Investec Asset Management’s Blake Hutchins has worked in the fund management industry for the past decade, but his career almost went in a very different direction.
While he now manages the Investec UK Equity Income fund and co-manages the Global Quality Equity Income portfolio within the firm’s quality investment team, Mr Hutchins recalls: “Growing up I probably wanted to be a professional tennis player. I’m from a crazy tennis family: my dad was a professional tennis player, and me and my siblings all played to a good level. My brother did become a professional tennis player, and I spent all my time outside of school playing tennis.
“Up until I was about 16-17, I was dual running academia with aspirations for something bigger in the tennis world. After it became increasingly clear that my tennis was good but not at the level it needed to be, I started to think about other [career] paths.”
An ongoing interest in businesses led him towards equity investment as a career path. Work placements at companies such as Thurleigh Investment Managers followed, before landing a place on the graduate scheme at Aviva Investors.
“In this [industry] you always need a bit of luck, and on the graduate day I met up with David Lis, who ran the UK equity team. I happened to sit next to him at lunch and it was a perfect match: I only ever wanted to work in equities and David ran the UK equity team. We hit it off and I developed from there,” he says.
Mr Hutchins’ first rotation was in the UK equity team, and having focused on doing the “best job I could for those three months” he stayed put, leading to “a lot more responsibility [earlier] than a lot of graduates got”.
After four years at Aviva Investors he moved to Threadneedle, which was “looking for someone with analytical responsibilities to step up and be a junior fund manager as well”. In the following three years he ran institutional money alongside Simon Brazier, and managed a UK retail Oeic, the UK Overseas Earnings fund. But in 2014 Mr Hutchins decided to move to Investec.
“I’d always admired [Investec] from afar, because they’re quite distinctive in their investment approach,” the manager says.
“I liked the idea of joining a company that is brave enough to let fund managers be very explicit about the way they want to manage money. At Investec we manage the capabilities by investment philosophy and your distinctive style, so you have Alastair [Mundy] running the value team and Simon [Brazier] and Clyde [Rossouw] leading the quality team.”
Having always had a tendency towards being a quality investor with a big emphasis on cashflow, Investec appealed because its culture “would allow me to explicitly follow the investment approach that I believe”, he says.