Top Performing Canadian Mutual Funds in 2020

These ten funds had the best returns this year – how did they do it?

Andrew Willis 29 December, 2020 | 4:28AM
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Staying the course in a downturn is one thing, going for growth is quite another, even more so in this rapidly changing world of 2020. In this strange year, much of the growth came from innovative technology companies that kept us connected and productive in these remote and socially distanced times. And so, investors in the volatile technology space reaped the benefits.

But which mutual funds in Canada did best? We looked at the top performing mutual funds of 2020, and found many active growth funds filling the charts. But before you decide whether or not to buy these funds, remember that past performance is no guarantee of future returns. Also keep in mind that factors like fees, or a fund’s process or portfolio manager can make a difference beyond the year in focus. A good way to get the bigger picture on a mutual fund is to use the Morningstar Quantitative Rating (MQR). “The ratings are an effective way to evaluate the likelihood of a fund’s outperformance relative to its peers over the long term,” says Morningstar Canada’s director of Investment Research, Ian Tam.

We see many Gold, Silver and Bronze-rated funds in the Top 10 for the year overall, with credit to how they responded and set a strong foundation growth early on in the crisis, “Medallist rated funds outperformed during the initial COVID-19 panic selling,” notes Tam.

Here’s the list:

Name  YTD Return (%) Management Expense Ratio (%) MQR 
Marquest Explorer F 94.62 4.32 Negative
Dynamic Power Global Navigator Cl F 89.24 1.23 Gold 
Fidelity Global Innovators F 86.63 1.16 Silver
Dynamic Power Global Growth Class Sr F 86.02 0.87 Gold 
Evolve Automobile Innovation Index Cl F  83.97 0.40 Gold 
Desjardins SocieTerra Positive Change F  78.94  1.24 Bronze 
Purpose Canadian Equity Growth Sr F  75.85 2.06 Neutral 
Signature Global Technology Corp Cl F  71.62  1.23 Neutral 
Desjardins Overseas Equity Growth F   69.37  1.21  Silver 
TD Science & Technology F  65.84  1.38  Neutral 

Morningstar Direct Data as of Dec 14, 2020

Marquest Explorer F takes the top spot for mutual fund performance in Canada so far this year but lags the Canadian natural resources equity category – going back a decade. Moreover, the mineral exploration and mining company fund charges an eye-popping management expense ratio of 4.32%.

This year’s runner up was Dynamic Power Global Navigator Class led by portfolio manager Noah Blackstein. The active stock picker successfully adapted to a changing market with a focus on the global technology sector.

Another top-performing active fund in the technology space is Fidelity Global Innovators Class, led by Mark Schmehl. The outsized moves of growth stocks didn’t bother Mark as he saw the pandemic as a trend accelerator that outweighs concerns of a bubble.

Dynamic and Noah Blackstein make another impressive appearance with a fund that’s similar to this year’s second-place winner. Dynamic Power Global Growth Class has had Blackstein on board since the beginning – for 20 years. Both funds rank at the top of the Morningstar Factor Profile for their ultra-momentum characteristics.

The next fund is closer to an index ETF, with a low-cost laser focus on just the right sub-sector this year. Evolve Automobile Innovation Index Fund Class set its sights on the latest automotive technologies and peripheral industries which were booming this year, especially in the electric vehicle space.

A heartening sight to see next on the list is Desjardins SocieTerra Positive Change Fund with an ESG focus that’s outperformed by following 17 U.N. Sustainable Development Goals. Turns out that the fund’s bet to improve the climate by investing in Tesla (TSLA) was a good one.

Finding the best growth companies at home, Purpose Canadian Equity Growth Fund, managed by Bruce Campbell at StoneCastle Investment Management beat its Canadian small/mid-cap equity category by around 65% this year.

CI’s Signature Global Technology Corporate Class F outperformed broad global markets by riding a boom in technology stocks, with an allocation clocked at around 60% of the portfolio as of Nov 30, 2020.

By going growthy and a little larger-cap than the International Equity index, Desjardins Overseas Equity Growth Fund delivered tech fund-like performance with a 40% allocation to consumer cyclicals as of the end of last month.

And lastly, we have a fund that combines a growthy large-cap focus with a 60%+ allocation to technology stocks as of Nov 30, 2020. TD Science & Technology Fund, sub-advised by T. Rowe Price, may round up the bottom of this list, but it near the top of the Morningstar Factor Profile for momentum.

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About Author

Andrew Willis

Andrew Willis  is Senior Editor at Morningstar Canada. He previously produced content for Fidelity Investments and finance industry events for Euromoney Institutional Investor and has written in the past for Thomson Reuters and CNN. Follow him on Twitter @Andrew_M_Willis.

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