Firing line  

'If you manage alpha and beta you can make a difference'

'If you manage alpha and beta you can make a difference'

President Emmanuel Macron may have been courting big institutions to see Paris as an alternative to London after Brexit. 

But for one French company, the British capital remains the location of choice for the best fund managers.

Fund manager Carmignac has half its investment team based in London – 19 investment professionals, of whom five are fund managers, from a total of 40 people – because the British capital is more appealing to the industry’s top talent.

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Maxime Carmignac, managing director of Carmignac’s UK branch, started out with five people in 2013, but has since scaled this up, as she recruited the industry’s best managers.

She says: “Being here was a game changer, of being able to attract the top talent; for non-French speakers it makes sense, and we found it much easier to attract top international managers in London than in Paris.

“We don’t know what the [Brexit] agreement will be, so it’s very difficult to have a clear view of what we should do, but at Carmignac we try to be agile.”

Sustainable performance

Ms Carmignac started in fund management and consultancy, re-entered the family business in 2013, and is now responsible for recruiting fund managers.

She is quite clear about what she is looking for in a fund manager. It is someone who “buys the right stocks at the right time. What I believe in is a consistent and powerful process – this is the main priority when I hire a portfolio manager.

“I want to work very hard to understand the consistency of performance, to see this performance is repeatable in a sustainable way.”

Carmignac is interesting, she says, because it looks at alternatives, adopting a long/short strategy, and it made the right call in the run up to the financial crisis.

Its top fund, Carmignac Patrimoine, had been underperforming when, six months before the world economy imploded, the Carmignac team spotted danger signs in the US banking and financial system.

She says: “We became very careful about the US banking and property markets and we reduced our exposure to the US banking sector. We did a top down analysis of the US banking sector, and we saw that something was wrong.”

They pulled the funds out – as well as invested in the defensive Japanese yen – and as a result, while all the other funds were losing money, and seeing their value plummet, the fund flatlined. 

Ms Carmignac says: “We are a long-term proven business, our clients are aware of that and our clients don’t ask too many questions in the short term.”

The funds are available on platforms, and distributed through banks and financial advisers.

It is now making available a series of Oeics to UK investors, which will be based on equities, fixed income and multi-asset, up until now being Luxembourg-based Sicav funds.