2019 Lipper Awards: Faith-based fund takes a starring role

Annual awards recognize more than 300 funds for performance

Mar 7, 2019 @ 9:00 pm

By Jeff Benjamin

The 2019 Lipper Fund Awards by Refinitiv, recognizing the best risk-adjusted mutual fund performance, identifies more than 300 individual fund winners across multiple categories, but one of the biggest winners this year is a fund company that didn't win a single fund award.

Dallas-based GuideStone Capital Management, a faith-based firm that manages $13 billion across 24 funds, pulled off the unusual feat of winning the overall fund company award in the small-company category.

"Guidestone has no individual winning funds but has the best risk-adjusted return for all their funds added up; that means these guys are top-performers for each fund they manage," said Tom Roseen, head of research services at Lipper.

David Spika, Guidestone president, said the overall small-company award falls in line with what the asset manager is hoping to accomplish.

"We're not trying to be first decile every year, our goal is to be in the top 30%, preferably top quartile," he said. "If you're the best, you're probably taking on too much risk."

(More: Full list of 2019 Lipper Fund Award winners)

The annual Lipper Awards, which were announced March 7 at a ceremony in New York, recognizes individual mutual fund performance over 3-, 5-, and 10-year periods. Eleven funds stood out this year for ranking first in all three time periods.

(More: Top Funds honored by Lipper Awards in 2019)

But the company awards, which are divided into groups of firms with more than and less than $76.8 billion, considers the fund company's entire lineup over the trailing three-year period.

Pacific Investment Management Co. is this year's overall large-company winner.

Pimco also won the award for best performance as a large-company equity fund manager, and won 17 individual fund awards, earning the firm a fifth place ranking in terms of individual awards.

TIAA Investments won the award for large-company mixed assets for the fourth consecutive year, and Morgan Stanley Investment Management won the large-company award for fixed income funds for the third straight year.

In the small-company asset-class categories, Thrivent Mutual Funds won the mixed-asset category again this year after winning it from 2015 through 2017, but missing it last year.

Primecap Management Company won the equity category for the fourth consecutive year.

Ashmore Funds won the fixed-income category for the second straight year.

(More:Full list of 2018 Lipper Fund Awards winners)

In terms of total trophy count, T. Rowe Price Group leads the pack this year with 22 winners, edging out Fidelity Investments, which brings home 21 trophies.

The Vanguard Group, which led all fund companies last year by taking home 29 trophies, dropped to fourth place this year with 19 trophies.

As Mr. Roseen points out, the awards are based on quantitative risk-adjusted performance measurements that are designed to reward positive gains over declines, which tends to eliminate strategies that swing for the fences and experience more volatile performance.

(More:Rankings of equity ETFs for the third quarter 2018)

At T. Rowe, where 10 of the 22 winning funds were target-date strategies, portfolio strategist Joe Martel said the target-date funds are managed both on a glide path as well as some "tactical movements around that glide path based on our shorter-term view of the markets."

"For example, for much of the past 18 months, we've been underweight stocks relative to bonds based on our view of risk in the markets," he added. "But we closed that to neutral in 2019."

Steve Neff, head of Asset Management at Fidelity Investments, said the firm's 21 awards "are a reflection of our dedication to helping individual investors and financial advisers and their clients achieve their long-term investment goals."

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