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2022 Envestnet Asset Manager Awards

Small/Mid Cap Equity Manager of 2022: Congress Asset Management Company

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Congress Asset Management Company is a winner of the 2022 Manager of the Year award thanks to what Envestnet said was the “strong and competitive” performance of its Congress Mid Cap Growth, which highlighted its ability to outperform during a period when the market was up and the Congress strategy “faced stylistic headwinds.”

The strategy was up 30.6% last year, topping the Russell Mid Cap Growth Index by 17.9%, Envestnet pointed out. Its performance ranked in the sixth percentile of the Morningstar Mid Cap Growth separate account universe that includes 232 strategies, Envestnet said.

Historically, the Congress strategy has been able to outperform on the upside, and the “magnitude of outperformance was outstanding and buttressed by solid stock picking,” according to Envestnet. The only sector that detracted from its relative performance was real estate, but that was just slightly, Envestnet said.

The Congress team has been extremely stable, according to Envestnet, noting the team hasn’t seen any significant turnover in the last five years.

“What set us apart in 2021” from peers was that “we were able to negotiate a volatile year and post strong returns versus our benchmark while keeping portfolio risk and portfolio turnover low,” according to Todd Solomon, Congress senior vice president and portfolio manager of Mid Cap Growth.

“Our commitment to profitable companies with strong, free cash flows, solid balance sheets, attractive valuation and compelling governance was a key factor in our success,” he said.

Last year was challenging because of factors that included the political landscape and the ongoing pandemic, according to Solomon. The debate over Federal Reserve action, fiscal policy under the new presidential administration and the “continued overhang of COVID put stress on company results and limited their ability to make solid forecasts,” Solomon explained.

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However, he added: “Our long-term focus on companies with strong current and historical financial characteristics that have the ability to outperform over a full market cycle helped us avoid some of the more volatile names that were temporarily pushed higher due to short-term euphoria.”

Challenges that he expects for the rest of 2022 and 2023 include increased global tensions, high gas prices, rising interest rates and “faltering consumer confidence” that have collectively “led to a tough start to 2022,” Solomon said.

“Markets are also grappling with growth rates that are slower than last year’s robust growth that benefited from slower economic activity in 2020,” he noted. “In other words, we are lagging last year’s growth, which was artificially high because 2020 was affected by COVID and was artificially low. We believe that long-term superior stock performance is generated by companies consistently growing earnings and cash flow.”

Asked how it felt to win a Manager of the Year award, Solomon responded: “We are always humbled that clients trust us to manage their assets and we always appreciate feedback on whether we are performing to expectations. Recognition from a valued partner such as Envestnet reinforces our belief that we can be a successful long term ally in working with clients to achieve their long-term financial goals.”

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Todd Solomon

Title: Manager; Years with firm: 22; Years in financial services: 29

Investment/asset class focus: Mid Cap Growth Equities; Asset management firm: Congress Asset Management Company; Year firm founded: 1985; Number of employees: 62; AUA as of Dec. 31, 2021: $20.8 billion overall; $7.8 billion for Mid Cap Growth Strategy alone