Schroders stock-picker goes

BLUE-chip money manager Schroders capped one of the more turbulent years in its two-century history with the departure of its chief investment officer.

Alan Brown, well-known for his annual Crystal Ball prediction evenings, will step down from his post and from the board, the firm said yesterday, as it reported a near-halving in asset management performance fees to £36.6m.

Schroders will not appoint a new chief investment officer and four divisional investment heads, covering equities, fixed income, multi assets and emerging market debt, will in future report directly to chief executive Michael Dobson.

The firm said an injection of institutional money kept its net inflows for 2011 positive against a backdrop of turbulent markets.

Total net inflows were £3.2bn with a £6.8bn net gain in institutional money outpacing a net outflow of £3.8bn of retail client money.

The firm, whose origins go back to 1804, was hit last year by an investment in failed nightclub operator Luminar as well as concern over the level of government debt in developed nations and instability in the Eurozone.

Yesterday, however, it posted a pre-tax profit of £407.3m, slightly ahead of its record performance in 2010, when it made £406.9m.

It also named Andrew Beeson, currently an independent director, as new chairman to succeed Michael Miles.