Investments  

Firing Line: Thomas Moore

Daniel Liberto

Much of Thomas Moore’s current approach to fund management can be linked to his younger years. Now in his fifth year as manager of Standard Life Investment’s UK Equity Income Unconstrained Fund, it was his amateur stock-picking as a teen, the influence of an important book and his experience of the tech bubble that eventually moulded his now trademark investment strategies.

Unlike most of his peers, the Standard Life Investments manager, was convinced from an early age that he wanted to run investment portfolios because of his love for numbers and fascination with economic trends. While some of his friends would go out to play, Mr Moore took comfort in studying share prices and reflecting on the dynamics behind their individual movements.

After putting together a couple of hundred pounds in savings, his first play came in 1989 when, at the age of 14, he invested in Thames Water. Although not all of his early-day investments turned out to be as successful, it was during this period that he was able to experiment with markets, learn from mistakes and carve out a winning formula.

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He said: “Thames Water was one of many privatisations of the late 1980s, in which the government was practically giving away money. There were not many privatisations back then that lost money, so that investment turned out to be successful, although I had plenty that were not as successful, which I learnt from. In those days I learnt a lot about the importance of how cash is generated.”

Mr Moore eventually went on to study economics at university, where he came across his greatest career influence, John Maynard Keynes’ General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money, a book he cited as highly significant and still relevant to investment markets today. Armed with a strong interest in finance and a university degree, it did not take long for him to secure a place on Schroders graduate programme in 1998, which marked the beginning of his long-awaited career in the investment universe.

His four years at Schroders were mostly characterised by the tech boom, a defining series of events that saw numerous investors lose millions. A young Mr Moore watched and observed as his peers were swayed by market sentiment, and in the process learnt an important lesson that would shape his index- and macro-agnostic approach to investment management.

He said: “It felt like the Wild West. Each day you would come into the office and feel the fear. It showed me that benchmarks could be a very dangerous thing. I witnessed first-hand examples of deals being taken that would later be regretted, and as stocks were getting bigger in the index, it was getting more painful not to own them. Those who did not buy them showed a real strength of character.”

Now the manager of Standard Life Investment’s UK Equity Income Unconstrained Fund, Mr Moore explained that his success in the past five years was down to his determination to stick to his guns and be different. Since taking over the reins during the recession in January 2009, the fund has produced top-decile performance across six months, one, three and five years, returning 169.2 per cent to investors versus the peer group average of 96.1 per cent.