UK – SGAM UK’s new chief executive, Keith Percy, says he is confident that the changes made to the UK equity team are working, and that consultants and clients will stand by them.

SGAM UK has found itself in the headlines recently. There has been a shake-up at the firm, including the departure of Percy’s high-profile predecessor Nicola Horlick. News that the company had lost a handful of UK equity mandates only added to concerns expressed by consultants, clients and the media.

But new chief executive, Keith Percy, is confident that SGAM’s UK equity business is still thriving. “Since the major changes of last year, the UK equity composites is up six percent against the index,” he said in an interview.

“For the first three years since we established the business, performance was excellent. But 2001 was a bad year for us. We were too optimistic, too early. At the end of 2001 we strengthened the UK equity team and process, but unfortunately our new head of equities, Hugh Sergeant, was unable to start for twelve months," adds Percy.

Sergeant was brought in to replace Peter Seabrook who left in March 2002. Malcolm Murray, now second to Sergeant, oversaw the team in the interim.

It was in this 2001-2002 period that SGAM UK came under pressure on UK equity performance. The company suffered below-average performance in its UK equity pooled funds in the first three quarters of 2002, which was blamed on a prematurely bullish stance on the asset class.

“Our three-year returns are not as good as our five-year returns, which are excellent. Funds that we won in 2000 missed out on the excellent performance of 1998 and 1999,” adds Percy.

The recent blip behind them, Percy is confident about SGAM UK’s business going forward. “We have gained some clients, and like to think that consultants and clients will look at our five-year performance and that since October last year before jumping to conclusions.”

While committed to UK equities, where there are 10 managers, SGAM UK is also building on other products. There are around 30 more managers in the UK covering European equities, global equities, emerging equities and a bond product for the SGAM group.