Investments  

“I wouldn’t pigeonhole myself as a growth investor”

As we head towards the UK’s European Union referendum in June, domestic equities might seem a risky asset class given the growing levels of uncertainty around the outcome.

Perhaps not the ideal time, then, to take the helm of a portfolio. But former Standard Life Investments manager Ed Legget, now of Artemis, believes the UK market still offers rare opportunities for those who know it best.

“If you look at the UK equity market, it is small enough that, as an individual, you can have a pretty good understanding of the companies within it, certainly enough to take an informed investment view yourself. Whereas when you get into running global equities, the challenge is slightly different in that you are looking for other people who know in detail about the companies. Because the universe is so broad, you can’t have an in-depth knowledge of the whole universe you’re investing in,” he explains.

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Amassing information on the domestic market began early on. Although he studied engineering at university, an internship at Schroders during his course allowed him to explore an alternative career. He recalls he was “attracted by the access you got as a fund manager to companies”.

As a result, he joined Standard Life in 2002 as a graduate. “I took the fund management route and have been pursuing the challenge of understanding how companies’ business models work, how they make their money and the sustainability of that profitability through time ever since,” he says.

But after 13 years at the firm, including seven years running the Standard Life Investments UK Equity Unconstrained fund, Mr Legget decided to join Artemis in December 2015, and took on the Artemis UK Select fund from Tim Steer in January this year.

“It was a new challenge and the opportunity to be a partner and an owner of a business that is going through an interesting growth phase,” Mr Legget says of the move.

“When I joined SLI there were 400 people and when I left there were more than 2,000. Being part of that growth was exciting and made it a great place to work while I was there.

“[I have] the opportunity to follow that path again at Artemis, which is a smaller company but has some exciting opportunities both within the UK and in selling funds out of the UK.

“In coming to Artemis, I hope I can contribute to its success, whereas in a much larger company it becomes more difficult to influence strategy or [achieve] success as an individual just because of the scale [of the business],” he says.

Having taken over the fund at the start of January, the move has coincided with some volatile market conditions, which the manager describes as “interesting”.

But he adds: “Tim left me with a portfolio that had a number of investments in it with which I was very familiar – the overlap with my previous fund was more than 25 per cent in terms of net asset value.