Many fund managers can be set in their ways, so to bring two teams together from different continents required some groundwork by Investec.
In November last year Simon Brazier joined the company from Columbia Threadneedle to become co-head of quality alongside Clyde Rossouw. But with Mr Brazier and the UK equity team based in London and Mr Rossouw’s global team residing in Cape Town, the ambition to create a single global investment platform did seem ambitious.
Mr Rossouw joined Investec in 1999 shortly after the Guinness Flight acquisition, and became involved in running international money, including managing one of Investec’s flagship unit trusts in South Africa.
“I remember starting off with the princely sum of 666m South African rand, which in today’s money is about £30m or $50m. After many years we’ve managed to grow it with a decent track record and to something more substantial. So we’re just under about $10bn (£6.5bn). But it’s not necessarily about the assets, it’s about the performance consistency which has always been important to me,” he said.
Then eight years ago he “had a moment of arrogance where I suggested that the principles we were applying in a single emerging market with a volatile currency and unpredictable economic circumstances, we could apply those same principles internationally and develop a successful strategy out of that”.
This resulted in the launch of the Investec Global Franchise fund, which is now a $4bn strategy, and the start of an international investment platform, with Mr Brazier coming on board at the end of last year with the UK element, along with four other hires from Threadneedle.
Mr Brazier notes: “So we’ve had a pretty seamless integration. Investec were looking for the next part to add to that platform, and [there is a] bit of a crossover with the UK space being a large market and globally focused.”
One of the reasons why the duo was brought together is because they share similar investment styles, he adds.
“What’s good about the way we run money is we’ve both got boringly consistent track records and a long-term focus on buying great businesses that generate cash and reinvest that cash at good rates of return. That’s all we do,” explains Mr Brazier.
He laughingly notes: “Unlike Clyde who used to run a little money and now runs a lot, I used to run a lot of money [at Threadneedle] and now I run a little money.” But he acknowledges that the UK team is winning “quite decent assets already” and adds that should the team find others that run money in a similar way in Europe or Asia, “there is no reason why they can’t come and join the party”.
The pair’s focus is firmly on personnel and whether they will fit into the culture and the team, rather than adding to teams just for the sake of it.