Schroders has admitted that it is ‘disappointed’ and ‘surprised’ by the departure of the group’s longstanding manager of its UK Opportunities fund.

On Monday 8 September, the asset manager for the firm confirmed that Julie Dean is to leave.

A Disappointing Decision

Ms Dean had led Schroders’ recently acquired large-cap fund for the last 12 years, with the asset manager confirming that she had been replaced with immediate effect. It is understood that a member of her incumbent investment team and decade-long colleague, Matt Hudson, has stepped up to the role.

Discussing Ms Dean’s departure, the head of Schroders’ UK intermediary, Robin Stoakley said:

“We are disappointed in her decision,

“It is fair to say we are quite surprised.”

Ms Dean had joined the asset management firm large year, when Schroders completed the acquisition of Cazenove Capital. Under her leadership, the UK Opportunities fund has returned 314%. This is comparable to the FTSE All-Share index increase of 190% over the same period.

A Certain Loss

Throughout the industry, Ms Dean had established a strong reputation on the back of the fund’s consistent performance, with industry analysts saying her loss will be badly felt at Schroders.

Since the Cazenove purchase however, the fund has performed less impressively, losing 1.4% to the end of July 2014. Comparatively, the FTSE All-Share index posted an increase of 5.6%, though industry analysts have suggested this was largely as a result of only a number of key stocks performing badly.

The pension reforms announced in the Budget in March have also been mooted as having a detrimental effect on the fund’s performance.

A Decade of Continuity

In what appears to be further validation of Ms Dean’s performance, Mr Hudson is understood to be maintaining the UK Opportunities fund’s present investment strategy. Having worked with Ms Dean for a decade, it is clear that consistency is being held by Schroders.

Under current practices, investment decisions are made according to key identified business cycles. Presently, the fund has a portfolio comprising an overweight allocation of industrial and consumer services stocks, accounting for 46% of its assets

However, industry reports after Ms Dean’s departure was confirmed saw a number of analysts remove the £2.1 billion fund from their buy lists.

With Ms Dean not giving comment at the time of writing, it is understood that Schroders is unaware of her plans. However, there is speculation that she could join two of her former colleagues Chris Rice and Tim Russell in the Sanditon Asset Management venture they formed last year.