Signaling their tremendous rise from obscurity in recent years, separately managed accounts were honored last Tuesday with their first annual awards by Standard & Poor's.

The award ceremony serves as a significant milestone for the $576 billion industry, which has grown 50% in the last two years.

Seven management teams were designated "best in class" by the research and ratings firm with the help of its awards partners, data provider Prima Capital and Investment Advisor magazine. The pool of eligible candidates was comprised of more than 250 money managers running more than 600 SMA products nationwide.

The winners included WCM Investment Management and Thornburg Investment Management in the large-cap equity category, Eagle Global Advisors for international equity and Smithbridge Asset Management for tax efficiency.

New Amsterdam Partners took home the hardware in the mid-cap equity category, while ISM Asset Management was awarded best in class among small- to mid-cap equity managers. Nuveen Asset Management grabbed the award for best fixed-income manager.

In order to meet the criteria, the candidates must offer a product that is at least $50 million in assets, available to investment advisors and open to new clients. In addition, the management team must have a three-year track record.

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