Speed-dating with six Elite managers

Last week, FundCalibre co-hosted its inaugural fund manager speed-dating event. Romance wasn’t the aim of the evening, however. Instead, we invited a range of trade and national journalists and gave them five minutes each with six Elite Rated managers to get their own investment scoop.

We left the serious investigative journalism to the professionals and instead did some light-hearted delving of our own to find out more about the people behind the funds. Whose first job was selling ice cream? And which of the people managing our money have survived the Cresta Run?

Here’s what our six had to say.

Rob Burdett, co-manager of F&C MM Navigator Distribution

Rob trained as a stockbroker but soon found his way into fund management. He has been managing money with his co-manager, Gary Potter, for two decades now and is proud of this working relationship, which has lasted longer than many marriages!

If he wasn’t a fund manager, he’d like to work in a nature reserve. “I used to visit the woods with my grandparents quite a lot when I was growing up. My kids like being outside too, but they also like baking at the minute.” One recently baked using tablespoons rather than teaspoons… they were cooking with chillies. His love of the outdoors extends further, and he’s ridden the famous and dangerous Cresta Run in Switzerland.

Steve Davies, manager of Jupiter UK Growth

Steve would like to be a sports analyst, covering cricket and football, if he ever changed careers. His children, however, would prefer him to be a farmer. As a value, contrarian manager, there is always the possibility that he will invest too early in a stock, and that’s exactly what happened with his worst investment, Vesta Wind Turbines. He says his best investment to date is Howden Joinery.

Alice Gaskell, co-manager of BlackRock Continental European Income

Alice’s first job was chopping vegetables in a restaurant and, whilst she can chop onions faster than Usain Bolt can run the 100m, she unfortunately has no tips on how to avoid crying whilst doing so. Her greatest achievement, outside of work and family, is climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and, if she wasn’t a fund manager, she’d love to be a presenter on Newsnight, interviewing powerful women.

Alice’s worst investment was in a wine and spirit company and, believe it or not, her best was in a company that “makes the best toilets in the world”. She invested in Geberit when everyone else was investing in sexier internet companies.

Alex Ross, manager of Premier Pan-European Property

Alex is a keen sports fan and, like Steve, would like to go into this field and become a cricket commentator if he were not a fund manager. His best achievement, outside of home and work, was reaching first-team-level sport, despite having a glass eye. He started his working life in jewellery shop, saving up to go backpacking. His favourite destination is Los Angeles.

James Thomson, manager of Rathbone Global Opportunities

James hails from Bermuda. Coming from an island upbringing, his ideal career change would be to become a fisherman, he says. One of his favourite memories is catching a Blue Marlin with his dad, just before he passed away. His best tip is: “If you catch a Mahi Mahi you will have a better day fishing them if you leave the fish outside of the boat. The second you bring the fish onto the boat, you’ll stop catching them that day.”

Hugh Yarrow, co-manager of Evenlode Income

Having started his ‘career’ with a paper round in Chipping Norton, Hugh has traveled extensively, teaching maths and science to an all-girls school in Fiji (where he “had to wear a skirt and sandals and they called me Prince William, because they thought I looked like him…”), has climbed Mont Blanc and Mount Kilimanjaro and, closer to home, completed a six-mile swim in Lake Bala in “cold, north Wales”. It’s perhaps unsurprising that this globe-trotting manager would like to be a foreign office diplomat if he changed career.

The views of the author and any people interviewed are their own and do not constitute financial advice. However the knowledge that professional analysts have analysed a fund or trust in depth before assigning them a rating can be a valuable additional filter for anyone looking to make their own decisions. Before you make any investment decision make sure you’re comfortable and fully understand the risks. If you invest in fund or trust make sure you know what specific risks they’re exposed to. Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. Remember all investments can fall in value as well as rise, so you could make a loss.