Emerging Markets  

Interview: Henderson's Glen Finegan warns against EM 'cheerleading'

By 2009 Mr Finegan had impressed and was appointed investment manager on the firm’s Global Emerging Markets fund. By 2011 he was working on its flagship Gem Leaders portfolio alongside Jonathan Asante. Following the fund’s soft closure three years later, Mr Finegan says he reached a crossroads in his career.

“When I left we were running tens of billions of dollars and the funds were closed. The career path for me at that stage was staying there to run what was essentially a closed book of business, or take a little risk, make for an interesting second half of a career and see if I could build a franchise,” he says.

Following a year’s break from the industry and numerous discussions with Mr Tulloch, Mr Finegan parted ways with Stewart. By 2015 he was back in the UK at Henderson, looking at redeveloping an emerging markets business previously managed by the former Gartmore team.

He explains: “What I was looking for was a blank sheet of paper. I didn’t necessarily want to run my own firm, which was an option. I haven’t run an investment firm and I didn’t know if I would be any good at it, but I do know how to run investment portfolios and an investment team.”

Mr Finegan’s team stands separate from the rest of Janus Henderson. The unit operates its own office in Edinburgh, and its remuneration structure also differs from that seen elsewhere in the business. He describes it as feeding into the “sell early, be defensive and preserve capital” team philosophy. There are no performance bonuses, with staff given a share of the franchise’s profit, which is then reinvested in the emerging markets strategy for three years. All team members have what the manager terms a “significant proportion” of their personal wealth invested in the portfolios.

“This is a boutique investment team operating with corporate support,” he says. “Henderson has a history of individual teams pursuing their own ideas and philosophies, so this idea of autonomous investment was not foreign to the culture, and that was important.”

Following the arrival of former Stewart colleague Stephen Deane in 2016, the team wrote its investment manifesto. Mr Finegan describes the strategy as being “absolute return” focused – it uses a watch list of more than 350 stocks developed by Mr Finegan since 2001. All companies on the list are defined as “good quality”, which means a history of stable returns, shareholder-friendly policies and a conscience. Valuations decide which of the stocks make it into the fund.

“We’re not value investors, but the way we protect from losing money is, first and foremost, avoiding companies that are not good enough quality. We define that by the people behind the business,” he says.