EquitiesMay 28 2013

My approach is to keep it simple and understandable

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ByNyree Stewart

There are few fund managers who have celebrated 25 years running one fund, particularly one with a socially responsible or ethical element to it.

Sue Round, director of group investments and manager of the Amity UK fund at Ecclesiastical Investment Management, has recently passed this milestone.

Considering her original plan was to be a fashion buyer, Ms Round admits her successful investment career, spent largely at Ecclesiastical, has been a bit of a surprise.

“I didn’t even know what a fund manager was,” she says. “I came into the city in 1979 and I didn’t really understand what was going on.

“I’d started to work for an investment trust management group. I came in as a junior analyst, with no experience at all. It was on-the-job learning and working with a very small team. There were only six of us, covering all the asset types.

“But I didn’t really understand some of the key things that were happening. It was a year of a lot of change, so it was quite a lively market – and a real baptism of fire.”

She smiles as she recalls her first job, where one computer was shared by six people and companies were analysed based on Extel Cards – the first corporate snapshots, which contained brief data on profit and loss.

“One of my jobs was to take these and file them, and keep the ones we had investments in and do up-to-date analysis,” she says. “It was a completely different role, and I thought at the time it seemed very exciting, and maybe one day I’d be able to manage funds of my own.”

She didn’t come into the City with any pre-conceived notions, as her background was in retail – she worked for a firm that is now part of House of Fraser, where she managed a team of people as an assistant buyer, a role that sounds like something out of Are You Being Served?.

“It really was,” she laughs. “[As] assistant buyer, I worked for the buyer and looked after all the admin. But it was such a ‘dead man’s shoes’ environment – people tended to stay forever. I got fed up with that, and it was very low pay, which was why I looked for something completely different.”

She describes her journey from analyst to fund manager as “slow”, having spent five years with investment trust firm Philip Hill before moving to Ecclesiastical.