Shepherd’s Bush, London
Middle child of five, born in Dublin and grew up in Bath
School in Somerset, Masters in history at St Andrews
Started at JM Finn
Hardest challenge so far
Cycling across America and passing the CFA
Cambodia and Laos
Bath Rugby and the WG XI
How did you get into being a fund manager?
I started at JM Finn in the Research Department where I was a UK equity analyst. Under the watchful eyes of Geordie Kidston and John Royden (current Head of Research) I was thrown in at the deep end, meeting well over a hundred companies in my first year, including plenty of visits to factories, distribution centres and building sites.
It was a fantastic way to learn the fundamentals of the investment world. I have wanted to be a fund manager for many years and the firm was very supportive in helping me develop as an analyst. At the beginning of 2016 I was lucky enough to be given the opportunity to manage the Coleman Street Investments (CSI) funds and have been doing so for almost two years now.
How do you describe the CSI service to your friends?
CSI offers a cost effective way to invest your savings in a portfolio of high quality and growing businesses. Clients typically invest in one of three funds, chosen according to their investment objectives and within each fund we actively invest into a range of equities, bonds and alternative assets so as best to achieve the fund objectives.
This pooled approach allows for a diversified portfolio with low transaction costs for accounts starting from £5,000; so can be suitable for smaller accounts such as savings for children and grandchildren. It is where I have my savings!
In a nutshell can you explain your overarching investment approach?
I look to invest in companies that will stand the test of time and be sensible in the price I pay for them. I focus on companies with clear barriers to entry, a long term record of revenue growth and that generate lots of free cash flow. In my opinion, the key factor is identifying if a company has a unique attribute that gives it the potential to earn abnormally high returns and to establish if this can be defended against fierce competition and over time.
Who are your investment idols?
I read lots of investment books and have met many fund managers so have a pretty long list here. Buffett, Munger and Graham are the originals and, even though it is a very consensus answer, are/were truly great investors. I have been lucky enough at JM Finn to meet some really idiosyncratic investors and have borrowed many of their ideas in developing my own approach to markets. My first boss, Geordie Kidston has to be mentioned – he was unique in many ways and approached investment from many thousands of feet. That is to say, Geordie was an obsessive reader of articles from far flung corners of the world that had a unique ability to pick up on macro trends and identify how these fed down to companies and markets. There are also some outstanding investors within the companies that we meet and invest in – Andrew Williams at Halma and Bruce Thompson at Diploma stand out for me.
What advice would you give to someone looking to get into a career in wealth management today?
Don’t study Economics at university! This is a fascinating and diverse industry that needs people from all walks of life and academic backgrounds; being different is a real advantage.