Last week, Chelsea co-hosted our second fund manager speed-dating event. Although close to Valentine's day, romance wasn't really on the cards, however. Instead, we invited financial journalists to spend seven minutes each with seven income fund managers to get their own investment stories.
While they talked about income and assets, we carried out some light-hearted interviews of our own to find out more about the personalities behind the funds. From first jobs to greatest achievements, here's what we discovered:
Julian has a real love of travelling, which is just as well as he joined us straight off a plane from a work trip to Sweden! He started his career at Schroders in its Hong Kong office but says if he wasn't a fund manager, he would be a football manager as like most fans, he thinks he could do it better than the incumbent. His worst investment was selling Samsung Electronics in the early 1990s as the share price continued to rise significantly. His best investment was buying it (indirectly through a convertible bond as you couldn't invest in the shares at that point) in 1986. He can speak 30 words in 30 languages, learned on his travels, and likes to make up a little for his carbon footprint by buying locally and cycling to and from work in the UK. His favourite ice cream flavour is strawberry.
When asked why an investor should consider the Charlemagne Magna Emerging Market Dividend fund this ISA season, Julian said: “It offers great diversification and opportunities to invest in all sorts of companies you wouldn't get access to as a private investor. Emerging markets are currently an undervalued asset class, with a growing dividend and possibly at a positive turning point in their cycle.”
Jonathan grew up on a dairy farm, feeding calves and collecting eggs, but had no wish to become a dairy farmer himself, leaving his brother to run the family business. He always had a hankering to be the next 'Rumpole of the Bailey' and become a barrister, but instead finished his education and joined Royal London in 1985, where he has worked ever since. His worst investment was in the sub-ordinated debt (a debt owed to an unsecured creditor that in the event of a liquidation can only be paid after the claims of secured creditors have been met) of HBOS. He says it was a stressful time when it went from 100p to 20p before Lloyd's stepped in with a takeover. In a nice kind of symmetry, his best investment was in Lloyds enhanced capital notes (a type of co-co bond which were issued as a result of the take-over), which many other investors snubbed at the time. Outside of work he plays Real tennis and loves the challenge of understanding the rules. His favourite ice cream flavour is pistachio.
When asked why an investor should consider the Royal London Corporate Bond fund this ISA season, Jonathan said: “It offers a diversified cash flow. We invest in bonds many other investors don't look at, so it's a great differentiator.”
Dan's first job was in his home town of Newport in Wales. He was sent out, with an electronic device, to record all the road markings in the area! It didn't pay very well apparently. And while he would dearly have loved to have been a rugby player, he says he probably would have ended up being an actuary if he hadn't got a job in fund management. His worst stock pick was Eriksson and his best was a Dutch publisher called Wolters Cluwer. He has recently got into crazy golf and managed to beat 20 friends at a day out a few weeks ago. He admitted to liking the occasional treat of a KFC bucket meal, which comes with his favourite ice cream, Vienetta.
When asked why an investor should consider the Fidelity Global Dividend fund this ISA season, Dan said: I always have my investors in mind when allocating money – if I wouldn't invest in something personally, I wouldn't add it to the fund. The fund offers stability through low turnover of stocks and something a bit different as it is completely unconstrained by a benchmark.”
While at college in the town he grew up in, Nick worked at a local video store where his job was to rewind the tapes! The only real perk was reserving [hiding] a much-in-demand film behind the desk so he was guaranteed a good watch a the end of the day. If he wasn't a fund manager he'd like to be a writer. His worst investment wasn't a stock, it was a very expensive home exercise kit that he never used. His best investment was his education. He grew up in South Africa where university wasn't free, so went into debt to get his degree. He says it was worth every penny and, despite arriving in London on 1 April 2008, just before Lehman's went under, with a bag and just £500 to his name, he's enjoyed a good fund management career ever since. His favourite ice cream is salted caramel.
When asked why an investor should consider the Aviva Investors Multi Strategy Target Income 2 this ISA season, Nick said: “We have such a great team managing this fund that if I disappeared tomorrow nothing would change in the fund. That's not great for my pay reviews but is great for our investors. It offers stability and diversification.”
Torcail started his career as an investment analyst at Alliance Trust and thinks he would have gone into academic research had he not gone into fund management. His worst investment was in a Brazilian sugar producer called GBO, as both the sugar price and the currency went the wrong way. His best investment was in Central European Medic Enterprises and free-to-air TV broadcaster in eastern Europe. One of his passions is sailing and, having been a trainee in 1997, was Watch leader in 1998 and 1999 in the Tall Ships Race. He'd love to do it again. His favourite ice cream flavour is chocolate.
When asked why an investor should consider the Baillie Gifford High Yield Bond fund this ISA season, Torcail said: “High yield bonds do come with more risk, but also with a higher yield, which will be an attraction for investors wanting an income. We have simple, understandable approach, which I also thinks resonates with many.”
Carl's first job was as a chef. His least favourite time was when he spent all day plucking pheasants and he is now a vegan! He likes cooking vegan meals, much to the disgust of his children who would rather prefer the pheasants! If he wasn't a fund manager he'd like to play international rugby, but as that would never happen he'd probably go into teaching. His worst stock pick was Tanfield, a￼n electric vehicle maker and his best stock pick was Dechra Pharmaceuticals. His favourite ice cream flavour is coconut and his greatest achievement outside of work and family was running the Comrades marathon in South Africa two years in a row. It's 56 miles and the first year he ran it downhill and the second year he ran it uphill.
When asked why an investor should consider the Rathbone Income fund this ISA season, Carl said: “For it's dividend growth track-record. The fund has only cut its dividend once in the past 21 years.”
Rollo's first job was a delivery boy for Oddbins, the wine and alcohol retailer, which sadly went into administration in 2011. If he hadn't gone into fund management, he would have liked to been a secondary school maths teacher, and has actually tutored a pupil in A-level maths who went on to achieve an A grade. His worst personal investment was in an oil and gas exploration company but he says he learned a valuable lesson in sticking to what he knows! His personal pension is therefore full of funds from other managers who specialise in different areas to him. His best investment has been in solar energy. He has run two marathons and his favourite ice cream flavour is chocolate chip cookie.
When asked why an investor should consider the VT Infrastructure Income fund this ISA season, Rollo said: “It gives you a dependable, predictable income over the long term.”