May 14, 2012

London Whale Steers Clear of J.P. Morgan Asset Management

Morningstar asset flows show impressive growth at J.P. Morgan Funds; New York moves 529 college savings plan to J.P. Morgan

JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. (Photo: AP) JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon. (Photo: AP)

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By the time the “London Whale” surfaced on JPMorgan’s trading floor, he had found himself near the center of a $2 billion loss (and counting) for the bank’s Chief Investment Office. But trader Bruno Iksil’s losses don’t appear to have hurt the fund business at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

In fact, recent news from Morningstar and the state of New York indicate that the London Whale has left the big bank’s J.P. Morgan Asset Management unit unscathed.

According to Morningstar’s Open-End Asset Flows Update for May, J.P. Morgan Funds have been “one of the more impressive growth stories in recent years” among the 10 largest fund families. During the past three years, the firm’s asset base grew by 2.5 times to $158 billion from $62.8 billion, Morningstar reports.

“What’s notable is that this growth hasn’t depended entirely on bond inflows. Bucking the broad trend, three of the family’s most popular offerings over the past 12 months are actively managed equity funds—JPMorgan Large Cap Growth, JPMorgan Equity Income and JPMorgan U.S. Equity—which collectively have taken in $6.6 billion,” the Morningstar report says.

The report credits J.P. Morgan Funds’ strong performance, including “sterling” long-term records.

“Overall, J.P. Morgan’s funds beat their average category peers over every trailing period, albeit by fairly small margins,” Morningstar reports. “The firm has also made a strong marketing push, doing its best to stay in front of advisors through frequent e-mail updates on funds and manager conference calls. Plus, it hasn’t been shy about rolling out new funds with 15 offerings introduced since March 2010.”

Trendy categories such as currency, real estate, bank loan, world bond and long/short equity feature among the fund newbies.

In addition, State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced May 9 that New York’s 529 College Savings Program Direct Plan has negotiated lower fees for participants along with a transition to J.P. Morgan Asset Management from Columbia Management. J.P. Morgan is now responsible for investment management and distribution for the advisor plan, which will be renamed New York’s 529 Advisor-Guided College Savings Program.

“Participants and new investors can expect expanded investment options as well as lower fees on average and enhanced online services with the switch to J.P. Morgan,” according to the DiNapoli news release. “The advisor plan will be renamed New York’s 529 Advisor-Guided College Savings Program.

The New York 529 plan will reduce expenses by a third, to 0.17% from 0.25% across all investment options. Vanguard is investment manager, and program manager is Upromise Investments.

Read more about fallout from JPMorgan’s $2 billion loss at AdvisorOne.

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