Arter said the team was  strengthened by the recent  expansion of its strategy unit – a  team of four led by Peter Osborne,  a former chief economist with  Merrill Lynch Australia – which  is tasked with providing analysis  and guidance to the manager’s asset  class specialists.  While VFMC consults a  specialist hedge fund advisor, it did  not retain an asset consultant to  help develop its investment strategy  and views, making the strategy unit  an integral part of the team.  This enabled the team to  implement investment decisions in  a matter of weeks, not months, as  there was no recourse to an external  consultant.

At present, the strategists are  warning their colleagues to be  increasingly careful when investing:  they should be ready for anything.  “The tenor of their analysis has  become more and more cautious in  the last six weeks,” Arter said.  They don’t see many obvious  opportunities across asset classes,  but recommended carefully buying  assets at the relatively cheap  valuations recently on offer.  Rather than make a decisive  strategic call amid chronic  European debt problems and weak  economic data from the US, “we’re  happy to let things develop over the  back half of the year,” Arter said.  “We think some strong signals will  emerge.”  Or markets may just “churn”  along – neither falling precipitously  or rallying – in response to the  entrenched problems originating  from deleveraging in the West.

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