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Wealth Manager top 100: the next 20 heavyweights of fund selection

Welcome to the second installment of our five part series on the UK's most influential figures in private client fund selection, with this 20 possessing a surname falling between D and H.  

Christopher Darbyshire

Seven Investment Management

If Christopher Darbyshire hadn’t opted for a career in financial services, he could have ended up working in sociological research ‘because I’m frustrated by economics, which is not able to learn from the other social sciences’.

A graduate of Oxford University, where he studied English language and literature, he joined Seven IM in 2012, having spent eight years working in derivatives, primarily at Goldman Sachs. His career also includes seven years at BNP Paribas, where he headed the media sector equity research team, and a similar period in the US media industry as chief financial officer of Viacom’s transport advertising division.

Staying true to the advice ‘always read the notes to the accounts before you read the accounts’, Darbyshire says the best fund he has invested in is any tracker – ‘they all do the job required of them’ – while Tobam, the smart beta manager, is his tip for the future.

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Dr Robert Dawkins

Towry

Towry chief investment officer Robert Dawkins has held a series of senior positions in private client and fund management companies throughout the course of his career. He joined Towry in 2010 from Aberdeen, where he worked as head of multi-manager.

Prior to this, he was managing director of RBS Asset Management and head of alternative investments at Coutts, having received his doctorate in mathematics from Exeter University.

Dawkins is responsible for managing and developing the investment process at Towry and has overall responsibility for the management of clients’ portfolios.

In April 2013, the company had almost £5 billion in assets under management, the vast majority held in third-party funds.

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Etienne de Merlis

Signia Wealth

Signia Wealth’s head of portfolio construction Etienne de Merlis highlights the THEAM Guru fund as the best he has ever invested in. The company has around 40 funds on its buy list, with half in exchange traded funds and the rest in open-ended funds. The list is very prescriptive for individual managers at the company.

Prior to joining Signia Wealth, de Merlis spent 11 years at JP Morgan Private Bank as a portfolio manager for ultra-high net worth individuals, covering clients based in Europe and the Middle East.

The portfolio construction head also spent seven years as a derivatives marketer to French and Benelux financial institutions at Citibank in both Paris and London.

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Timothy Dowdeswell

Stonehage Investment Partners

‘Stay hungry, stay foolish’ is the best advice that Timothy Dowdeswell has received during his career. Possibly having more focus on the former and less on the latter has resulted in him rising rapidly through the ranks in his fund selection career.

After graduating in history from Cambridge, Dowdeswell had a variety of roles before he settled at Stonehage, where he has spent the last three and a half years as an investment analyst. His career includes a spell at Merrill Lynch Private Wealth Management, working as a relationship manager at a multi-family office in Neuchatel and one year as a project manager for a start-up company.

Dowdeswell is fascinated by the emerging market debt story and says he would have been an analyst in the sector had he not gone into wealth management. ‘[I] love the element of macro and valuation,’ he says.

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Graham Duce

Aberdeen Asset Management (manages assets on behalf of Coutts)

‘Never be complacent’ is Graham Duce’s motto and it’s one that’s served him well in a career spanning over 25 years. Duce is now manager of the Equator Investment Programme and Equator Investment fund ranges at Coutts, amounting to £7 billion.

The University of Essex graduate, who studied economics and politics, believes he would have ended up in fund sales if he hadn’t forged a career for himself in fund selection, joking ‘I’d have a better golf handicap!’.

Duce joined Aberdeen in 2009 following its acquisition of Credit Suisse Asset Management. He cites Findlay Park American as the best fund he has ever invested in and highlights Chris Reid at Majedie as a potential star of the future.

Having the flexibility to invest in up and coming fund managers is important for Duce, who explains ‘investing in smaller and newer funds has long been a source of alpha for the Aberdeen Asset Management multi-manager team and we continue to find some excellent opportunities off the beaten path’.

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James Ellis

Société Générale Private Banking

James Ellis has enjoyed the role of global head of Société Générale Private Banking fund research since 2002. His team’s research feeds through to a number of entities, including SG Private Banking Hambros.

Ellis’s division was merged with another research team in 2011 and renamed Société Générale Private Banking Fund Solutions. It now also incorporates hedge funds and private equity within its area of responsibility.

Ellis was formerly group business development director at SG Hambros Bank Limited from 2004 until 2006, and has also taken on the roles of group chief investment officer and head of product development for SG Hambros during his time at the bank.

He started his career in 1978 after co-founding a business that provided advice to wealthy family-owned companies. The firm was sold in 1996 and Ellis relocated to Guernsey, where he joined the board of Hambros Bank Guernsey in 1997.

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Ramon Eyck

Goldman Sachs Asset Management

Goldman Sachs Asset Management’s Ramon Eyck leads external manager selection and research from the firm’s London office, with a particular focus on UK, European, Asian and Japanese long-only equity managers.

Eyck has over 12 years’ of asset management experience across fund manager research and ratings and multi-manager portfolio management in the UK, Australia and Asia. He joined the company in 2011 from Skandia Investment Group, where he was head of equities.

Prior to this, Eyck was a co-founder of the managed fund ratings business at Standard & Poor’s in Australia and a member of the senior team responsible for the development of the investment research and rating process.

By the time of his departure, he was head of Australian equity research at S&P.

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Edward Fane

Thesis Asset Management

The finely tuned fund selection process Edward Fane has strummed in his eight years in the industry fits well with his other dream job, an acoustic guitarist and singer/songwriter.

‘It (a music career) would have provided the blend of the qualitative and the quantitative, the rational and intuitive, and the opportunity to observe and react to global events with a range of focus from macro through to micro. And the fame,’ he says.

Fane is well known in the investment world of Guildford, where he co-manages Thesis’s fund of funds range and is responsible for the firm’s model portfolio service, including its passive investment approach.

A graduate in philosophy from Warwick University, passion and commitment to the cause are his keys to success. ‘Faithfully bring yourself to what you do and you will be most effective,’ he advises.

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Ahmet Feridun

Fleming Family & Partners Asset Management

Had Ahmet Feridun not opted for financial services he envisages himself on the tennis court challenging the likes of Andy Murray at Wimbledon.

‘I enjoy the competitive nature of the sport and believe that you are always better at things you are passionate about, which I have been with tennis since an early age,’ he explains.

Having worked at Pictet Asset Management in its emerging markets equities team, Feridun joined Fleming Family & Partners Asset Management (FF&P) as an investment analyst in September 2007, with a particular focus on selecting equities and funds.

During his career he has researched and selected investments across a wide range of asset classes, including fixed income and private equity. The best advice he has been given is to look were the crowd isn’t and ‘always be wary of taking unnecessary risk’.

Feridun highlights the ‘very pleasing’ performance of the FF&P European All Cap fund since JO Hambro Capital Management and Robbie Wouters assumed control in 2008.

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Milica Fomicov

Barclays (wealth & investment)

Milica Fomicov joined Barclays in 2011, and covers US and Japanese equities fund research for the wealth & investment division.

Formica was formerly a senior associate with Alliance Bernstein in the US designing investment portfolios for high net worth clients, where she also worked on asset allocation and forecasting models.

Milica received an MBA in Finance, Economics, Econometrics and Statistics from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business.

Had she not worked in asset management, Fomicov believes she would have entered academia. ‘I would have been a university professor, teaching international economics. I love conducting research in this discipline, and the ability to teach and influence students would be very rewarding.’

Within her work, Fomicov says that asset managers need to do more to recognise their limitations. ‘Alpha potential becomes muted after a significant growth in assets under management, and we are very restricted to only investing in large strategies with a standard approach, we do not have that limitation with segregated multi-manager mandates,’ she says.

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Guy Foster

Brewin Dolphin

Guy Foster, Brewin Dolphin’s head of portfolio strategy, anticipates that active bond funds could see their total expense ratios fall to 20-40 basis points, while equity funds could come down to 50-65 basis points in the near future.

While some fund selectors are restricted by the size or minimum track records of the funds they invest in, Foster is keen to stress that Brewin Dolphin will continue to support start-up and smaller funds if they believe the fund manager has the ability and there is a compelling investment case.

The best lesson he has picked up during his career is ‘don’t believe everything you are told – in this age of big data you can usually check’.

Foster’s team produces the fund-based models for the group’s platform-based managed funds service and he provides recommendations on tactical investment strategy.

Asked to entertain the possibility of an alternative career, he notes: ‘I enjoy investing and talking about investing so whether it was investment management, lecturing or journalism, I would still feel privileged to work within this industry.’

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Stuart Fox

Lord North Street

When Stuart Fox was at university he considered opening a restaurant with a friend on graduation. ‘We thought it would be a pretty interesting thing to do and we love eating’ being the rationale. However, they changed their minds after working in a few establishments and doing their research – ‘we realised how hard a lifestyle it is and how unlikely you are to succeed’.

Fox, who studied English at Cambridge University, joined City Asset Management as a graduate in 2007 and worked there for five years covering UK equity fund selection, alternatives and structured products. He moved to Lord North Street in 2013 as an analyst covering emerging market equity and debt, hedge fund selection and contributing to asset allocation.

Fox, who rates A-rated Neil Veitch as a future prospect, says the best advice he’s received is that ‘clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society’.

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Philip Gent

Jupiter Private Clients & Charities

A passion for working on the land could have taken Philip Gent into the world of farming, but instead he chose to join the world of financial services.

Unlike many working in the industry, Gent shunned university to join Coutts & Co as a 16-year-old school leaver. It was here he took his professional exams before forging a career as an equity analyst and portfolio manager for private clients. In the late 1990s, he moved to Invesco Private Portfolio Management, which was subsequently acquired by Singer & Friedlander.

Gent then joined Jupiter in 2009 and says the advice that has stayed with him down the years is to ‘do your best for your clients and they will do their best for you’.

He is a member of the CISI, an associate of the Society of Investment Professionals and a member of the Chartered Financial Analysts Institute.

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Mick Gilligan

Killik & Co

Armed with a degree from Lancaster University in psychology and organisational behaviour, Gilligan has both the skills and experience to grill fund managers on their investment thinking.

While he is reluctant to name the manager whose performance has stood up to this interrogation, he names the Axa Framlington UK Select Opportunities as featuring among his best ever investment picks. ‘Run by Nigel Thomas, [the fund] has been a great investment for lots of our clients. We were day one investors in 2002 and remain so. It is up circa 270% with the UK market up around half that,’ he says.

Gilligan has spent over a decade at Killik & Co, having joined the firm in 2001 after serving as a senior investment professional at the John Lamb Partnership, an advisory firm catering for high net worth investors.

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Kristof Gleich

JP Morgan Private Bank

Kristof Gleich is the international head of manager selection at JP Morgan Private Bank, with additional responsibility for its thematic alpha programme. This is run out of London and aims to offer clients the opportunity to tap thematic market opportunities.

Prior to joining JP Morgan Private Bank, Gleich spent eight years at Goldman Sachs, four of which were in asset management, where he was responsible for the selection of European equity managers. He also worked as a portfolio manager in AXA’s third party fund management group.

Gleich graduated from the University of Bristol with a degree in physics and is a CFA charterholder.

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Ben Gutteridge

Brewin Dolphin

Ben Gutteridge has spent 10 years at Brewin Dolphin, having joined from Barclays in 2003, and has headed fund selection for the company since 2010.

He is also responsible for alternative investment selection, sits on the asset allocation committee, and is a member of the Securities & Investment Institute and a CFA charterholder.

A mathematics graduate from the University of Loughborough, if Gutteridge had not entered the world of fund research he might have been a professional golfer.

He highlights First State Global Emerging Market Leaders as the best fund he has ever backed, and views Jupiter’s James Clunie as the next rising star.

Gutteridge anticipates that actively managed equity funds could see total expense rations come down to 50-65 basis points, while active fixed interest could fall to 20-40bps.

The team operates a recommended list of 90 actively managed funds, 30 plus exchange traded funds, 50 plus investment trusts and nearly 20 structured products that are classed as ‘buys’ or ‘researched’.

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Bambos Hambi

Standard Life Investments

Bambos Hambi’s success would have been far harder to come by had it not been for the culinary skills of a good woman. ‘Make sure you marry someone who can cook and put your head down and work hard,’ are among the best bits of advice he has ever been given.

A graduate in mathematics from Queen Elizabeth College, London University, Hambi is a well known name in fund selection.

He started out in Legal & General’s actuarial department before moving to Quilter & Co. He went on to head multi-manager teams at Friends Ivory & Syme, Rothschild Asset Management and Gartmore before joining Standard Life Investments in March 2011 to head its fund of funds proposition.

He is responsible for overseeing the firm’s MyFolio funds range and has input into Standard Life Wealth’s process.

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Mark Harries

Lloyds Private Banking

Mark Harries is head of multi-manager at Lloyds Banking Group. The bank leverages off its asset management subsidiary Scottish Widows Investment Partnership, where Harries runs multi-manager funds. His team advises on over £8 billion of assets for the bank, driving investment philosophy, asset allocation, fund selection and the monitoring of underlying investments.

If Harries hadn’t chosen this career path, he would have considered commercial property management as he has a ‘general interest in buildings, from the architecture to development and the whole issue of tenant management’.

The best advice he has received has been to take a long-term view rather than trying to time the markets; be aware of capital preservation; and accept that experience counts.

The Fidelity Special Situations fund, under the stewardship of Anthony Bolton, remains his best investment, while he tips manager James Clunie of Jupiter as a future star.

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Victoria Hasler

Brewin Dolphin

Victoria Hasler has driven Brewin Dolphin’s fixed income, property and infrastructure fund research since she joined the national wealth manager in 2010 from Rothschild Private Management, where she worked as a fixed income portfolio manager.

Hasler covers both open and closed-ended mandates, and highlights the Invesco Perpetual Global Financial Capital fund as the best fund she has ever invested in. Ben Hayward of TwentyFour Asset Management features among her picks in the rising star category.

Her career began as a fixed income analyst at Merrill Lynch, having gained a degree in economics with French from Durham University. She also holds the Investment Management Certificate and is a CFA charterholder.

She cites the wise words of Sir John Maynard Keynes that ‘the market can remain irrational longer than you can remain solvent’ as being particularly useful.

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James Hedley

Rathbones

Had Rathbones’ James Hedley not made it as a fund selector, he would have liked to have taken a stab at managing Britain’s historic landscapes.

Hedley graduated with a history degree from East Anglia University, and then decided to take a different tack after completing a masters in forestry from the University of Wales.

Forestry’s loss ended up being investment management’s gain. He started in financial services at Neilson Cobbold, beginning a career that now spans over 20 years. He is a founder and senior member of Rathbones collectives research committee, with a specialism in Asia, emerging markets and commodities. Of all the funds he has invested in over the years, he describes Jason Pidcock’s Newton Asian Income fund as his top pick.

‘The client comes first’ is the best piece of advice he has received during his career.

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