When someone is nervous about having to speak in front of lots of people, they are often told to imagine their audience naked. The theory goes that if the crowd looks ridiculous in your mind’s eye, you’ll feel less ridiculous yourself. In a similar spirit, Unbalanced presents a tool for funds managers who are jittery about presenting to an asset consultant. Or more specifically, one of Australia’s most influential asset consultants, JANA gatekeeper-in-chief John Coombe. Sure, a ‘yae’ or ‘nae’ from John can radically transform the future of your business, but picturing him as a pink Teletubbie would have to help calm the nerves.

The picture you see here has its origins in another good cause. In late March, Coombe was  persuaded to join one of three JANA teams competing in Trailwalker, an annual 100 kilometre walk staged in both Sydney and Melbourne which raises money for developing word charity, Oxfam. Coombe got together with three of his Sydney office colleagues – JANA CEO Ian Patrick, and researchers Suzy Yoon and Georgina Dudley – to form a team known as ‘Sydneytubbies’ for the Melbourne event. “I’ve got no idea where that came from,” Coombe told us last month, generously taking our call while on a month’s leave.

“I think our IT guy dreamed it up.” The toddler-friendly TV stars certainly worked a treat in the serious business of drumming up donations – the Tubbies raised $19,485, the third most of any team – with many industry supporters promising to double their contributions if Coombe wore the pink suit on the hike from Wheelers Hill to the Yarra Valley. Just as many were sceptical that John could complete the 100ks without being carried over his teammates’ shoulders at some point, but how wrong they were.

“We did it in exactly 24 hours, and I felt fine afterwards,” Coombe says. “They really look after you, there’s masseuses and podiatrists on the trail…I had some blood blisters come up so they had me walking on 2 centimetres of foam.” That’s pretty hardcore, but not quite as crazy as colleague and fellow Trailwalker, Melbourne consulting head David Holston. “David got a stress fracture in his leg during training, but he didn’t take the X-ray to the doctor because he knew what the outcome would be!” Coombe reveals.

Hats off then to Mr. Holston, for enduring what we imagine was considerable pain in the name of a good cause, and with teammates including ‘investment outcomes’ heads Ken Marshman, even winning the over-50s category. An inconvenient spoof for Magellan Underperformance is, now and then, an inconvenient truth for funds managers. And thanks to the GFC, they’ve recently had plenty of experience in explaining why it has happened.

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