Equity  

Interview: Graham Campbell

Interview: Graham Campbell

For some fund managers, the most important part of the job is the buying and selling of stocks or securities. But for Graham Campbell, chief executive of Saracen Fund Managers, the analysis and research is equally if not more important. 

“We think analysts are the most senior job,” he says. “They are the person that has to understand the business, understand the industry, and it is important to be able to think for yourself.” 

The business of buying and selling attracts a more sceptical comment: “We shouldn’t forget the objective of brokers is to make fund managers trade, and for clients trading is a cost.” 

Article continues after advert

Having started his career as a trainee analyst at a stockbroking firm in Glasgow, it is perhaps not surprising that Mr Campbell takes this view. It is one that is shared by the whole business, indicative of how the chief executive has sought to  create a unified culture at the boutique. 

He explains: “We have a very long-term approach. It is wholly owned by staff, and clients like that alignment. By having an environment that is focused on investments and clients, we spend the vast majority of time analysing businesses, meeting management, building financial models and testing them. 

“We also believe it is very important to meet clients. We make sure every client has the opportunity to meet the fund manager at least twice a year. There is also no barrier between us and the client – they can pick up the phone and call us directly.” 

In terms of the team dynamic, Mr Campbell, who co-manages the Saracen Global Income and Growth fund alongside David Keir, notes: “We do that old-fashioned thing of talking to each other.” 

The team screens companies globally to find new ideas and then has regular meetings to ensure their three funds – Global Income and Growth, UK Alpha and the recently launched Saracen UK Income strategy – hold the best suggestions. “There is no point doing all this research if they’re not in the portfolio,” he points out. 

“We just talk to each other. It’s the hardest thing in any business. If people are working the same way and there are no barriers or hierarchy. If someone has an idea they can say it, and then we say: ‘great, go and do it’. My job is not just hiring good people, but allowing them to do their best work without distraction or bureaucracy.” 

Mr Campbell joined Saracen in 2011 following stints at Edinburgh Partners, Scottish Widows Investment Partnership and Edinburgh Fund Managers, and launched the Global Income and Growth fund shortly after. The vehicle recently reached its fifth anniversary as a result. 

After seven years at Edinburgh Partners he took some time out before joining Saracen, which at the time was “a very under-resourced business in Glasgow, with little time spent talking to clients, but very thoughtful on how they invested”. 

Since then the business has recruited “high-quality, thoughtful people who are dedicated to what they’re doing, but also frustrated working for bigger companies and spending less time doing what they wanted to do”.