One time favourite of the DIY investor and best seller, Neil Woodford’s Equity Income fund has dropped out of AJ Bell’s top 10 seller list a week after a fund rating agency downgraded it.

 

The fund has disappointed investors with its significant underperformance over the last twelve months; it is down 11% in the past 12 months compared to the 7% rise of the average fund in its peer group.

Morningstar last week cut the rating on the fund from silver to bronze because of concerns of its high exposure to small-cap stocks and unquoted companies; the £6bn fund saw outflows of £1.3bn in 2017.

AJ Bell still has the fund on its recommended list but Ryan Hughes, the firm’s head of active portfolios, is not surprised it has fallen out of the top 10 among clients.

‘Woodford outperformed his peers for the first three years of the fund and he has had one difficult year. But it’s important to put this in context,’ he said.

‘The fund has a large number of smaller companies which are long-term growth companies and he has been very clear that these will take a long time to play out.

‘I wouldn’t expect them to perform well in this market as out of favour companies are not doing well. Fashionable stocks are what’s driving the market.

‘He’s clearly had some stock specific issues but that doesn’t make him a bad manager. He is also fully transparent with his holdings, which is not doing him any favours.’

Only three UK-focused funds remain in the list of top 10 best sellers – Lindsell Train UK Equity, Castlefield UK Buffettology and Old Mutual UK Mid Cap.

The two most popular funds – Fundsmith Equity and Lindsell Train Global Equity – both invest in high quality global businesses.

Two specialist Japan funds – Legg Mason Japan and Baillie Gifford Japanese Smaller Companies – make the region the most popular overseas market.

‘The UK continues to be out of favour, with economic growth stalling and Brexit lurking in the shadows,’ says Hughes.

 

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