Watch the full interview with James
Lives Earlsfield, SW London
Education Nottingham High School and Cardiff University
Started at JM Finn 2015
Life ambition To be someone that made a net positive contribution to society
Favourite book Red Notice; surely number one in the ‘true story financial spy thriller’ category
Alternative career Economics teacher; leather elbow patches and all
Last holiday Japan – food, drink, culture, history and scenery all in one
As a charter holder of the CFA, what advantage do you think you get from taking these incredibly tough exams?
The CFA doesn’t in itself make you a great investor, just like learning all your scales doesn’t necessarily make you a great musician. What it does give you though is an important and thorough understanding of how to critically analyse and quantitatively value businesses.
As you are moving from research to the management of the Coleman Street Investments, can you describe your investment process?
We wake up every morning with the aim of finding great companies, being disciplined on not overpaying for our share in the business and allowing that business to compound value over time. By maintaining a consistent, patient and disciplined process I believe that investors can take advantage of the opportunities thrown up by the fear and greed of others to generate superior long term returns.
Are there any themes or sectors that you are particularly interested in from an investment perspective at present?
The barriers to entry that you find in network businesses are exceptionally attractive. It would be very difficult for me to compete with AutoTrader tomorrow without finding both dealers to sell cars and consumers to buy them. I couldn’t create a viable alternative to PayPal without not only attracting consumers willing to use my payment platform but also retailers willing to accept payment on it. And what would be the use of starting a new Facebook if I only had me and a couple of other people on the platform?
Can you tell us why some investors choose to invest in the Coleman Street Investment portfolios?
The advantage of CSI being unitised is the cost efficiency of pooling funds to achieve a suitably diversified portfolio allowing savings to be managed in an active and flexible manner. There is added flexibility in that Capital Gains Tax is not payable on gains within the funds which allows the managers full discretion over investment decisions without tax constraints.
Have you invested in the funds?
Of course! I’m a big believer in eating what you cook. As part of my investment process I always look to see how aligned management are with me and with us as investors. I once emailed the senior management of one of our portfolio companies after noticing that the Chairman had sold a large holding in the business to ask why - they said he was renovating his house in Hampshire. Given the value of the share sale I imagine it’s a nice house now!