Downing Fund Managers has hired ex-Schroders stockpicker Rosemary Banyard to lead a newly launched unconstrained UK equity fund.
Banyard will head up the Downing Unique Opportunities fund, a 'relatively concentrated' portfolio of UK companies across the market-cap spectrum.
The firm said the offering would focus on small- and mid-cap stocks that can achieve above-average returns on capital based on a sustainable competitive advantage. The fund will hold between 25 and 40 positions and will charge an annual management charge of 0.75%, with the ongoing charges figurecapped at 1%.
Judith MacKenzie, partner and head of Downing Fund Managers, said the appointment was "a real coup" for the company, noting the fund would be "complementary to our existing strategies".
"Rosemary will provide valuable experience to the rest of the Downing Fund Managers team," MacKenzie added.
"She has a long-standing and enviable reputation of hunting down the best companies in the UK, unconstrained by benchmark or market cap, and delivering benchmark and inflation-beating returns to investors over the long term."
Banyard departed Sanford DeLand Asset Management in October 2019, where she managed the firm's Free Spirit fund from launch in January 2017 until 30 June 2019.
The manager had previously worked at Schroders for almost 20 years, managing the Schroder UK Smaller Companies fund alongside Andy Brough, as well as leading the Schroder Mid Cap investment trust.
Banyard said her and Downing's "strategies and processes are an excellent fit and the team will provide a very supportive framework".
She added: "The opportunity to launch the Downing Unique Opportunities fund is an exciting one and I believe this fund will appeal to investors.
"I shall adopt a tried and tested investment strategy, refined over many years, which focuses on businesses which have few if any peers listed in the UK.
"These businesses are likely to earn above average returns on equity without employing excessive leverage, by virtue of possessing certain attributes that protect them against competition."