What You Need to Know
- Ned Durden of WestEnd Advisors takes Overall Manager of Year and Strategist category honors.
- First anticipating weaker growth and then a switch to economically sensitive sectors helped stellar performance.
Title: Chief Investment Strategist
Years with firm: 15
Years in financial services: 24
Investment/asset class focus: Forward-looking, high-conviction multi-asset solutions
Firm name: WestEnd Advisors
Firm headquarters: Charlotte, North Carolina
Year firm founded: 2004 (when purchased by partners from PowellJohnson)
Number of employees: 24 employees, including seven partners
AUA as of May 31, 2021: $15 billion
It’s nearly impossible to prepare for a black swan event like the market sell-off in March 2020 when the coronavirus pandemic slammed global stock markets and froze U.S. bond markets until the Federal Reserve intervened.
But WestEnd Advisors was ready for the turmoil. The boutique investment firm was defensively positioned, more heavily weighted with health care, utilities and consumer staple stocks, and had no exposure to sectors such as energy, industrial materials and financials.
“Our concern entering 2020 and seeing the economic data indicating moderate growth was that the market seemed to be pricing in a reacceleration of economic growth,” says Ned Durden, the chief investment strategist. “If growth didn’t reaccelerate … we could be experiencing a difficult time for returns. And then the pandemic hit. Most economically sensitive sectors were hit the hardest. Anticipating weaker growth allowed us to protect investors on the downside in the rapid drawdown.”