Words of wisdom from fund management's Rising Stars

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Blake Hutchins, portfolio manager, quality investment team, Investec Asset Management

Nadia Nikolova, vice-president in infrastructure debt at Allianz Global Investors, wishes she had been less insecure and not as self-critical. She said: “I wish I had done less of that.”

Her answer was typical. But the importance of confidence was not the only frequently cited lesson that 2016 Rising Stars wished they had learnt sooner. The value of learning from others, taking time to read and the need for humility were also mentioned as of key importance to a successful career in the industry.

The answers form a series of top tips for would-be asset managers. Here is a selection of the responses.

It’s ok to make mistakes…

Chloe Goddard, head of UK and Ireland strategic clients, Goldman Sachs Asset Management (Age 34)
Making mistakes is actually one of the most helpful things you can do early in your career as you can learn so much from them.

Giles Parkinson, equity fund manager, Aviva Investors (Age 32)
The best mistakes are always the ones you learn from – the worst thing is to make the same mistake twice.

Tim Crockford, portfolio manager and director, Hermes Investment Management (Age 33)
The financial world, wherever you are, is full of people who have been to the best universities [and] who really know to talk the talk. I remember being very bewildered when I joined the industry… Sometimes people feel the need to make simple things too complicated when the common-sense answers are sometimes right in front of you.

Marilyn Watson, director, global fundamental fixed income strategy team head, BlackRock (Age 38)
I wish I had known that nobody knows everything and that, actually, if you have confidence, you should always be willing to put your view across with whoever. That’s one of the things I try to instigate in the people who work in my team.

Blake Hutchins, portfolio manager, quality investment team, Investec Asset Management (Age 32)
I wish I had known it is ok and inevitable to make the odd investment mistake. You always feel sick when you make them but, so long as you learn from them, they can be incredibly valuable in making you a better investor. The same undoubtedly holds in everyday life.

Learn from your peers…

Cédric Baron, head of multi-strategy assets Generali Investments Europe (Age 37)
Be patient and try to learn from the experience of others. It’s a tough industry but once you have built a strong base of good people, you can access them when you need to.

Paul Shanta, co-head of absolute-return government bond team, Old Mutual Global Investors (Age 30) There is a massive amount of talent everywhere so try and learn from the people around, you even if you disagree with them. Take the best bits from different sources.

Read as much as you can…

James Bullock, portfolio manager, global equities, Lindsell Train (Age 33)
The more you read [the better]. Whether it’s research in the company or books by other investors or people talking about business, that can have a really profound effect on the way you think about things, whether or not you disagree with the person you are reading. I read a lot now but if I had started earlier that would have been a good way to get into the business.

Jürgen Blumberg, head of capital markets, Europe at ETF provider Source (Age 35)
When I started studying economics, I didn’t know how the whole financial ecosystem worked together. I didn’t know the role of the banks, didn’t know who were the most important proprietary trading institutions out there and didn’t know where the biggest asset managers were. If I had known very early in my career how it all plays together, [it] would have helped me in my career [and especially] it could have helped me switch to ETFs earlier.

It pays to be patient…

James Pearce, head of direct lending, M&G Investments (Age 39)
Patience is the most important thing. I wish I had known that in my early 20s. When you are quite young, you can be impatient and in a hurry to get to the next level. Being open to lots of different experiences, which I have been, is also important. It is a good thing to see the depth and breadth of something early on.

…and be humble…

Alexei Jourovski, head of equities, Unigestion (Age 37)
Be humble, financial markets teach you something every day, and be nimble.

Ben Stapley, portfolio manager, JP Morgan Asset Management (Age 37)
Showing off your knowledge doesn’t get your very far. I’ve learnt that it is how you apply your knowledge and learn from your mistakes that you get ahead in life. Many people confuse knowledge with overconfidence. In the investment industry things change so quickly that you may think you know something, but the facts have moved on already. It’s a very important lesson I’ve learnt.

Jeffrey Mueller, vice-president and portfolio manager, Eaton Vance (Age 34)
[I wish I had known the importance of recognising] that I am not always going to be right.

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