Meeting with fund managers and their teams is something we are keen to do with regularity and a sense of purpose. We often meet groups of fund managers at organised events, but we also will travel to meet them in their own head-quarters.
I thought it would be useful to report back on one of these outings to the clients that we so proudly represent.
Katy, Sophie and myself visited the offices of ethical fund managers – Eden Tree – in London last week.
We recommend several of their funds within our ethical and mainstream portfolios. We wanted to see the team for ourselves and understand even more about the way they view the world of ethical investment.
We were met by our area consultant Martin who is an excellent support to us. He took us up to a conference room with an enormous table you could sit about 30 people around (I found myself with serious conference table envy!)
Whilst we sat down to a panoramic view of the Thames, we were joined by none other than the head of responsible & sustainable investment process – Mr Neville White.
Neville is very well regarded in ethical investment circles. He acts as a counterbalance to the fund managers at the fund house – ensuring they adhere to Eden Tree’s strict screening criteria. He openly admitted that this can lead to some feisty debate at times, as the fund managers will obviously be focused on performance – but this house seriously protects its screening process.
Neville was keen to point out that his department places emphasis upon the word ‘responsible’ before ‘sustainable’. In a time when so many fund houses ‘greenwash’ by placing the responsible screening second, it was refreshing to see.
Whilst we were actually in the building, a hot piece of data had come in which set Neville and his team immediately to work. A reputable company that they held in one of their funds had just bought out another company that makes nuclear warheads! The team calmly decided that this was a non-negotiable screening ‘fail’ for this stock and immediately instructed the fund manager to execute a sell protocol.
Next up was Mr David Katimbo who manages both the Eden Tree Short Dated Bond and Sterling Bond funds. These funds are very important to us and our clients and we were extremely keen to see how David and his team view the current bull market.
Bond fund managers are a clever bunch of people who speak a different language to the rest of us. However, David was excellent at outlining Eden Tree’s view on interest rates and the current global economic position.
Sophie is currently going through her Investment Module with the Chartered Insurance Institute and so I asked David if he could talk her through Bond Duration Risk as it is nice to come at a subject from a more practical aspect. David made great sense and Sophie feels confident now if questions should arise in the exam on this complicated area!
The visit was a great opportunity for us to really get to know the Eden Tree team even better and we were very glad that we made the time to go and look at them a little more closely.
As independent financial advisers it is crucial that we try to really understand the different fund houses and their styles. Over the two days that followed our visit to Eden Tree, we met with managers from HSBC, BMO, L&G, Sarasin and many more.
Our quest for information and explanation is never ending as we seek to ensure that our clients have the very best recommendations and portfolios that we can design.