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April 1, 2016

Tough 2015 Markets Did Not Bump Top U.S. Lipper Award Winners

by Trevor Hunnicutt.

TIAA Global Asset Management won top honors at the 2016 U.S. Lipper Awards on Tuesday for the fourth straight year, despite the waning of a long bull market in U.S. stocks last year.

The New York-based fund company – once called TIAA-CREF and known for its work managing nonprofit organizations’ retirement plan money – won Lipper’s overall award for large asset managers as well as a “mixed assets” award for building investment portfolios of both stocks and bonds.

TIAA has taken the fund research service’s overall award for large firms each year since 2013, and in 2012 the award was claimed by Nuveen Investments Inc, which TIAA now owns.

“We’ve had a couple of firms go on to repeat for a couple of years now, and it often surprises me that with all the competition in this industry that anyone can stay on top for as long as they do,” said Jeff Tjornehoj, head of Americas research for Lipper, a division of Thomson Reuters. “It speaks to the people and the process they must have in place. I don’t think it happens by accident.”

Investors struggled to eke out gains in 2015, with the S&P 500 index rising just 1.4 percent. Before last year, the index had risen more than 10 percent for three straight years.

U.S. moderate-risk mixed-asset funds, on average, fell 2.3 percent during 2015, Lipper data shows.

Lipper’s methodology rewards fund companies and investment products that generate consistent returns through up-and-down markets, according to Tjornehoj.

“It takes the perspective that many investors have,” he said. “We are hurt by losses more than we are rewarded by gains.”

Other companies appearing on the winners’ list have also won top awards before. Thrivent Mutual Funds, the overall winner among small companies, took home one of the company awards in 2015. Oakmark Funds won the award for large stock managers in 2016 and last year. Guggenheim Investments, an honoree for its fixed-income fund management, has also won two years in a row.

Among other winners, PRIMECAP Management Co earned the top award among small companies for stock-picking funds. Metropolitan West Asset Management LLC won plaudits for its fixed-income portfolios.

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