Tim Clift of Envestnet | PMC (left), SMA Manager of the Year Libby Toudouze of Cushing, and Jamie Green, Editor of Investment Advisor magazine.

For the 11th straight year, Envestnet | PMC and Investment Advisor recognized excellence among separately managed account managers by awarding nine SMA Manager of the Year honors, along with a 10th award given this year to Cushing Asset Management as overall SMA Manager of the Year.

At a ceremony on Thursday during the Envestnet Advisor Summit in Chicago, the winning SMA managers were honored not simply for good performance, but for exhibiting a unique “alpha thesis” that has been sustainable and repeatable over years. The awards were presented by Envestnet | PMC’s Chief Investment Strategist Tim Clift and this writer, editor of Investment Advisor and ThinkAdvisor.com. (See more on the awards process and the criteria.

Two new awards were instituted this year: an “Impact” award for excellence in socially responsible investing—to Dana Investment Advisors, represented by portfolio manager Duane Roberts—and a “Strategist” award honoring Frontier Asset Management, with founding principal Dave Miller accepting the award.

The overall SMA Manager of the Year honor, chosen from among the individual award honorees, was Cushing Asset Management’s Core MLP strategy, represented at the ceremony by Libby F. Toudouze, portfolio manager and Swank Capital president. Last year was a tumultuous year for energy prices, the presenters said in announcing the award for Cushing, making volatile alpha difficult to find, particularly in the MLP space. However, Cushing’s strategy rode through the turmoil, and when the year was done it had outperformed its index—the Alerian MLP Index—by over 17%.

In accepting the award, Toudouze credited the “phenomenal team” at Cushing for its 2014 performance, notably Cushing Managing Director John Musgrave.

The 2015 SMA Managers of the Year, with comments on each portfolio by Envestnet | PMC analysts, are:

Large Cap U.S. Equity Category (two winners)

Golden Capital Management for its Large Cap Core strategy. Led by portfolio manager Jeff C. Moser 

“Golden receives our top recommendation due to its sound and repeatable investment process, skilled and experienced investment team, as well as a strong long-term risk-return profile. Golden attempts to exploit three well-documented market anomalies: the valuation anomaly, the earnings anomaly (earnings surprise, earnings revisions, earnings quality, and sustainability of earnings growth) and the momentum anomaly.”

Raub Brock Capital Management for its Dividend Growth portfolio. Led by Richard Alpert, managing partner and portfolio manager.

“This strategy returned 14.38% in 2014 and outperformed the Russell 1000 Growth by 1.33%. Envestnet |PMC believes the managers’ time-tested approach to focusing solely on dividend growth offers investors a fighting chance to outperform over the longer term.” 

Small and Mid-Cap U.S. Equity Category (two winners)

Chartwell Investment Partners for its Small Cap Value strategy, led by Senior Portfolio Manager and Managing Partner David Dalrymple.

“This strategy is a portfolio that typically consists of 70-90 high-quality companies and is managed using a reversion to the mean investment philosophy to purchase out-of-favor stocks trading at a discount to historic valuations. We believe the strategy deserves the award given the strong alpha generation over the last market cycle, impressive performance in 2014, consistency of the investment process, and a high pedigree team.”   

Congress Asset Management for its Mid Cap Growth portfolio, led by portfolio manager Todd Solomon.

”Last year the strategy beat the Russell Mid Cap Growth benchmark by 115 basis points and has produced a 5.19% annualized alpha since Mr. Solomon took over in January 2010.” 

International or Global Equity Category 

Epoch Investment Partners for its Global Equity Shareholder Yield strategy, led by Managing Director and Portfolio Manager Kera Van Valen

”We believe they deserve the SMA Award given their strong alpha generation since inception, strong performance in 2014, repeatable investment process and high pedigree investment team which includes the architect of the strategy and former CEO of Credit Suisse Asset Management Americas, Bill Priest.”

Fixed Income Category

GW&K for its Enhanced Core Bond strategy, led by Mary Kane, partner and lead portfolio manager

“GW&K boasts an outstanding performance track record on both an absolute and risk-adjusted basis, run by a team with extensive tenure and industry experience. Additionally, the strategy’s flexibility to add a modest amount of high yield exposure should provide investors with a cushion against rising interest rates.”

Strategist Award

Frontier Asset Management, led by Gary Miller, founding principal

“Frontier Asset Management has one of the longest performance track records in the third-party strategist space, dating back to 1999. Frontier offers a dynamic set of portfolios that are globally diversified, multi-asset risk-based portfolios as well as a subset of unique multi-alternative portfolios. Their portfolios have produced attractive and consistent outperformance”

Impact Award

Dana Investment Advisors for its Socially Responsible Equity strategy led by Director of Equities and Portfolio Manager Duane Roberts

“This strategy debunks the myth that impact managers may sacrifice return for investing in a good cause.  Their strategy incorporates best of class environmental, social and governance impact criteria and has a 15-year track record of consistent, superior investment performance.” 

Specialty Award

Cushing Asset Management for its Cushing MLP Core Strategy, led by Libby F. Toudouze

“Cushing lands in the top spot due to their innovative culture, highly experienced investment management team, deep research capabilities, consistent management approach, and keen focus on risk control. While identifying MLPs that are poised to grow their cash distributions rapidly is a major component of how Cushing adds value, the team’s understanding of the energy supply chain, understanding the basin(s) that MLPs operate in, the quality of management team, and balance sheet flexibility all are incorporated into Cushing’s fundamental analysis.” 

Manager of the Year

Cushing Asset Management for its Cushing MLP Core Strategy, led by Libby F. Toudouze

“In a volatile year, Cushing’s strategy rode through the turmoil and when markets dipped, they dipped significantly less. When the year was done they outperformed their index (the Alerian MLP Index) by over 17%.

All the winners of the 2015 SMA Managers of the Year awards will be profiled in the July 2015 issue of Investment Advisor, with additional video interviews and other content on the  2015 SMA Managers of the Year landing page

See all the conference coverage of the Envestnet Advisor Summit: 2015 on ThinkAdvisor.