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2019 Rugby World Cup: Fantasy Fund Manager, who has made the Willis Owen Squad

Posted by Adrian Lowcock in Press releases category on 23 Sep 19

There are a number of parallels between picking a winning rugby team and building a successful portfolio. As well as finding the best individual performers, it is also vital to make sure they have strengths, which complement each other as well as a combination of youth and experience.

Rugby team managers don’t just put together a team of with 15 front rows. Instead they look for a balanced team with a reliable kicker, and a mixture of defensive and attacking outfield players. Similarly, when building an investment portfolio you need managers who can protect your investments when the going gets tough alongside those that have the ability to target strong returns in the good times.

It is wise to have a blend of styles that can cope with varying conditions and funds that come from different groups and invest in different markets.

With the Rugby World Cup just a few weeks away, Willis Owen’s Head of Personal Investing, Adrian Lowcock, has assembled a dream team of top managers.

Core funds

T. Rowe Price US Blue Chip Equity – US large cap should provide a core to any well-diversified portfolio. The US remains the largest economy and blue chip US stocks are global leaders in their field. Larry Puglia has been at the helm of this fund since launch in 1993 and he has delivered consistent returns through several market cycles. The fund's strategy is to focus on companies with above average and sustainable growth prospects. The portfolio is well-diversified, with over 100 holdings, but Puglia will take large individual positions in companies he has the greatest conviction in.

Lindsell Train UK Equity - Nick Train invests in unique and high-quality companies that offer a high and sustainable return on investment, show low capital intensity, and are cash-generative. Train has long-term approach and a buy-and-hold style - he sells out only if he no longer considers a company to be of sufficient quality.


Janus Henderson Strategic Bond – Bonds play an important role in a portfolio, typically providing some defensive qualities and protecting investor’s capital in volatile markets. The managers, John Pattullo and Jenna Barnard, employ a flexible and unconstrained strategy looking to add value mostly from asset allocation. They can invest across the fixed-income spectrum but have historically had a bias to corporate bonds. The managers have demonstrated an aptitude for analysing the economic cycle and positioning the portfolio accordingly over time, which is key to such a flexible strategy.

M&G Global Dividend –Equity income offers a defensive element as income paying stocks are often well managed and investors are paid an income as well as benefitting from growth. Stuart Rhodes is an experienced manager, having been in charge of the fund since 2008, and is assisted by a large team of analysts at M&G. The process is driven by fundamental company research and looks to identify businesses which fall into three buckets: quality, assets and rapid growth. Rhodes is sensitive to valuation criteria and will not overpay. The portfolio is a mix of growth companies and economically sensitive cyclicals.

Adventurous funds

First State Asia Focus – Exposure to other markets, such as Asia are important for long-term growth. Asia is typically riskier than developed markets but also offers the potential for more growth. Manager Martin Lau applies a tried-and-tested company selection process, which looks for quality businesses that deliver sustainable growth at attractive valuations. Company visits are of paramount importance. Lau adopts a pragmatic medium to long-term investment approach with a flexible style that will adapt to prevailing social and economic conditions. Capital preservation is considered to be the foundation for long-term capital gains.

Merian UK Smaller Companies- Investing in smaller companies offers access to fast growth, but risky companies- the potential for getting access to the market leaders of tomorrow. Dan Nickols looks for companies which demonstrate one or more of the following characteristics: the ability to grow earnings faster than the market average for an extended period of time; the scope to generate a positive surprise; or the potential to be re-rated relative to the market. A pragmatic approach is taken to valuation, with various ratios and timescales used depending upon the situation. This flexible approach allows growth, value, and recovery companies to be held, but the portfolio has tended to show a growth bias.

All-rounder (Flanker) :- Trojan fund - This fund is a good option for cautious investors with an eye on capital protection. Sebastian Lyon managers the based on the philosophy that preservation of wealth is more important than growing assets. Investments span equities, government bonds, index-linked bonds, precious metals and cash. The process has a long-term mindset and targets low volatility. It tends to lag strongly rising markets but displays defensive qualities in more difficult time. (Not sure if this fund is in the right place for a rugby squad ).

High active management (changing portfolio) / Wing – Man GLG Undervalued Assets - Henry Dixon believes they can add value through thorough analysis of company balance sheets to understand a business' true real-world assets and liabilities. They seek to identify two types of stock: those trading below their view of the company’s value and those where the company’s profit stream is being undervalued relative to the cost of capital. The portfolio has a value bias, but it does include elements of quality and positive earnings momentum. Dixon has demonstrated his ability to consistently execute the investment process with discipline. Turnover is as the managers sells investments once they reach their price target and moves on to look for fresh opportunities.