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Profile: The head of DPZ Capital's MPS explains his offbeat fund selection
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by David Campbell on Nov 28, 2013 at 00:01
‘The way money is managed in North America is very strategic,’ says Rohit Ahluwalia, co-chief investment officer at DPZ Capital and head of its model portfolio service.‘If you come out with a 60/40 equity/bond split and stick with it, which is how they do it there, that doesn’t fly in the UK.’
Ahluwalia, a Canadian transplanted to the Channel Islands, has a pretty good handle on the potential for cross-cultural misunderstanding in portfolio management – and believes the British method has greater global appeal.
He originally came to the UK as a Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) investment director reporting to former head of UK investment Tracy Maeter, with a mission to tweak the company’s models to appeal to local investors while keeping Canadian bosses happy. In early 2012, he jumped ship to DPZ.
Since then, the model service has gathered £70 million over the last year, contributing the majority of the near £100 million increase in assets the company has chalked up since late 2012, to stand at a total £425 million in client money.
Rather than looking north to the ferociously competitive UK (‘we are not trying to be a Brooks Macdonald or Brewin Dolphin,’ he notes) the company has racked up the air miles by linking with intermediaries in South Africa, Cyprus and soon, hopefully, the Middle East.
While Ahluwalia’s previous job as a troubleshooting funds analyst for Canada’s flagship bank took him to all the company’s major international markets and left him ready to take a wider view of the global market, he says that in some very crucial ways it felt lacking.
‘For nearly eight years I supported RBC’s global wealth management [fund research] and you know, it’s a big organisation so you get to do a lot of different stuff, a lot of projects in Asia, in Europe, on integration.
‘But I really wanted the chance to get my hands dirty. I had sort of learned from text books but had no experience of the emotional aspect of dealing with clients: being accountable for client money and having to answer these questions about why we took this risk exposure, why we avoided risk.’
That said, he still clearly relishes the wonkish detail of fund research and selection. Having squared the circle of RBC’s portfolio management requirements with their desire to run money in the UK by introducing a 30% tactical allocation outside the traditional prescriptive 60/40 asset split, he sees the company’s job as digging out opportunities not offered by plain vanilla funds.
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