RCM…making dreams of funds management come true It’s always been tough to break into a job in portfolio management, more so now than ever. You might have the skills and the determination, but it’s likely you’ll remain languishing on the sidelines without a little bit of luck. Just ask Paul Schofield, who these days has one of the biggest funds management jobs there is, running global portfolios for Allianz and RCM Global Investors. Whereas he now decides on trades, Schofield once had to settle for settling them – his main experience was as a fixed income fund administrator before joining RCM in 1998. Schofield was still beavering away on the sidelines, as a member of RCM’s institutional client services team, when the tech wreck came along and gave him the big break he was after. Not long after the NASDAQ got nailed, Schofield had his personal trading account checked by the company, as part of its regular due diligence. Thing was, Schofield had borrowed some 10,000 pounds from his mother to help put him through university, but as the clock wound down on 1999, she wanted the money back. As a result, Schofield’s ‘PA’ showed him selling out of most of his positions at the top of the market. “They thought I was an absolute genius,” Schofield remembers with a smile. He found himself fast-tracked on to the global equity fund management team, his luck stood by him through a couple of subsequent mergers, and he remains there to this day. Of course, RCM seems to be a shop where that kind of thing happens. Even humble journalists can get a foot into funds management through the firm’s ‘Grassroots’ process of field research. This is where a report on, say, queues at the Applestore for the launch of a new iPhone become a secret weapon in the analysts’ hands. Some of you will also know that Michael Negline, RCM’s man in Australia for many years, was working at department store David Jones before he joined the firm. As Negline tells it, selling someone a nice, well-fitting suit isn’t all that different from selling them a mandate. And we assume Schofield tries to look after institutional clients’ money as well as he did his Mum’s cash on the PA.
Generatin’ the gossip David Blood, of Generation ‘Blood and Gore’ Investment Management fame, has plenty of reasons to love Australia. The fact that some 15 per cent of his sustainable investment firm’s assets under management are sourced from here, over $700 million, is one. Another was the talk of the ICGN Conference last month, rating almost as many mentions over coffee cups as the appearance of Blood’s business partner, the former democratically elected president of the United States. Yes, if you’ve been wondering what happened to Beth Bisso since she left her post as HESTA investment analyst back in February, she’s apparently moved to London to live with the former CEO of Goldman Sachs Asset Management. HESTA is of course a foundation client of Blood’s firm, but this is Generation we’re talking about so there’s nothing improper going on. HESTA’s mandate commenced on July 1, 2006, about a year before Bisso started working for the industry fund.
GFC? Great Flippin’ Confusion. Fellow Australians, it’s official. Nobody else calls it the GFC. This became embarrassingly evident when Unbalanced attended the International Corporate Governance Network conference last month. As it was held in Sydney, the ICGN talkfest had a fair share of local speakers. But they kept shortening Global Financial Crisis to its acronym, which left delegates from offshore visibly bamboozled. “The GFC – isn’t that a Roald Dahl book?”one asked us afterwards. Blame Kevin Rudd. In the US, we learned, the phrase ‘GFC’ comes up in conversation about as often as Geelong Football Club. Most Americans simply refer to the current economic malaise as “the crisis” or “the meltdown”, and leave the fancy acronyms to groups like the ICGN.
Russell swimmers burn the midnight oil for MS Between 2am and 6am on a Sunday, you might find Unbalanced curled up watching The Ashes. However head of business development at Russell Investments, Chris Briant, was doing something far more constructive with those hours one Sunday last month. Briant joined 14 Russell colleagues and friends at the Megaswim for Multiple Sclerosis, raising money for MS Australia’s work in supporting sufferer’s families and finding the elusive cure for the disease. Starting midday Saturday at the Homebush Aquatic Centre, the Megaswim was a 24 hour relay for which every team had to have someone swimming at all times. Briant and Justine de Mestre, head of Russell’s charitable giving committee and member services manager for its Master Trust, scored the 2am-6am shift. Briant was only four minutes late after a detour past Tracks nightclub in Epping, which he claims to have not entered since 1989 – we think we believe him. The pair contributed 11.8 kilometres to Russell’s 73 kilometre total. Briant later desribed the split between himself and Justine as “not interesting”, though he went on to proudly point out that 5.2 kilometres was the furthest he’d ever swum in his life! Other Russell swimmers included Bec Jameson, Mark Montaldi, Nigel Webb, Michelle O’Donnell, Karen Serem, Michael Zheng, and Jeanette Hovilai, while Australian managing director Chris Corneil stayed dry but did show up poolside to shout encouragement. Russell had raised over $9700 for MS Australia at presstime last month.