One of the more philosophical issues front of mind for Gray is the regional rather than global equities allocation. The UK traditionally has invested on a regional basis, unlike other parts of the world which allocate globally, and the equity investments at the USS London investment office are divided into five regions, with teams specialising in the UK, American, European, Japanese and Asian ex-Japan markets. Gray said there could be some room to debate this regional versus global allocation. “I’m a globalist by heart but a regionalist or pragmatist by head. It seems difficult to pull together a true global fund,” he said.
“Global equities on a quant basis is plausible. You have to think hard about how to pull it together but it is ripe for experimentation.” While the UK traditionally has had a regional focus, it was a nuance of Moon’s not to make a distinction between developed and emerging market equities. So the internal team has to make a call, for example, within the Americas, to allocate between the US and Brazil. Therefore, Gray said global emerging markets was an asset class the fund may also consider introducing. “We haven’t got an emerging markets focus per se. Mandates are set up as all-country, regional mandates, so it’s an area to look at.”