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Star small-cap manager Philip Rodrigs fired from River and Mercantile over conduct issue

Well-known smaller companies fund manager Philip Rodrigs has been sacked from River and Mercantile Asset Management (RAMAM) following an investigation into his professional conduct. The firm said the conduct issue was not related to Rodrigs’ responsibilities as manager of its £900.5m UK Equity Smaller Companies fund, £374.4m UK Dynamic Equity fund and £110m UK Micro Cap investment trust.

Rodrigs, a 36-year-old German-born Oxford University graduate, joined RAMAM from Investec Asset Management in September 2014. With the star investor managing more than £1bn of customers’ money, receiving numerous industry awards, and commanding a large following in the retail market, the mind boggles as to what he could have done. Regardless, RAMAM reassured investors in Rodrigs’ products that they will not be negatively affected by his dismissal, and refused to comment on whether the issue will be passed on to the police or the FCA.

The R&M UK Equity Smaller Companies fund will now be managed by Dan Hanbury, another big name in the small-cap space who managed the product prior to Rodrigs’ appointment. Meanwhile, the R&M UK Dynamic Equity fund will now be run by William Lough, who is also the alternate manager of R&M’s High Alpha and Recovery strategies. The leadership of the R&M UK Micro Cap Investment Company will pass to the trust’s alternate manager George Esnor.

The firm’s chief executive James Barham said:

It is disappointing to have to take this course of action but we have acted swiftly to ensure that the portfolios continue to be managed in line with our PVT (potential, valuation and timing) investment philosophy and process.”

This will ensure that we continue to deliver market-leading investment returns for our clients.’

Rodrigs’ dismissal comes just months after the Financial Conduct Authority launched a probe into RAMAM and three other asset managers to look into allegations that they had broken competition law. The probe, which was launched in November, will look into whether the four firms illegally shared information about the pricing of initial public offerings in 2014 and 2015.

The R&M UK Equity Smaller Companies fund has returned 53pc to investors over the last three years, outperforming the IA UK Smaller Companies average of 49.2pc. The UK Dynamic Equity fund and UK Micro Cap investment trust have also outperformed over the same period.

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