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Tuesday, 23rd April 2024
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An up day - for a change! Back  
Pramit Ghose, Chief Investment Officer of Hibernian Investment Managers, finds that fund managers remain cautious on stockmarkets for 2001.
07.00 Alarm followed by 07.00 radio news is the standard wake-up routine.

07.10 Living in Ballsbridge means that for my wife Catherine and myself, we can be up, deliver Simon (aged 3) to his minder and Isabel (aged 6) to Loreto on St Stephen’s Green and be at our desks an hour later.

08.15 Over a cup of tea, muesli and a banana (Fyffes of course!), I review overnight markets, particularly the major US stock movers, followed by a quick read of the FT and business sections of the major Irish dailies. Then on to the bond and equity teams to get their views on the major stock-market events. Our most successful recent strategic move was to hedge a significant part of our US dollar assets at around 83 cents vs the euro, and it’s the one price we keep the closest eye on.

09.00 Meeting with Dara Fitzgerald, head of marketing and new business. For institutional fund management companies, the most visible sign of success is not investment performance, but growth in funds under management. Fund management virility is determined by the number and size of mandates won.

At HIM we manage money for both retail investors and corporate pension funds.

The bigger growth market over the new few years, in our opinion, will be the retail market, where demand for well managed equity and property mutual funds continues to grow. Dara and I discuss our marketing plans for the next four weeks, including the launch of a new retail fund, which funds we should be currently recommending to investors, and our forthcoming investment conference for major pension consultants and large retail brokers.

09.55 The tea trolley arrives, conveying tea, coffee, biscuits and freshly baked scones.

10.00 Time to review how the stockmarkets are doing, return some calls/ e-mails and check if there is any interesting mail.

10.30 Monthly investment teleconference with our colleagues around the world. Worldwide, Hibernian’s parent company, the CGNU Group, runs some E350 billion of assets and has fund management operations in London, Paris, Amsterdam, Boston, Tokyo and Singapore. A great opportunity to share the pain of poor stockmarkets in 2000! But seriously, it’s a great forum to learn what other fund managers really feel about financial markets, and to exchange favourite stock ideas. The upshot : fund managers remain cautious on stock markets for 2001 expecting only modest gains, while the strategists who run big-picture valuation models are upbeat, expecting 15 per cent or so equity market performance.

12.15 Time to head over to the Merrion Hotel for a swim and steam. The exercise is great while the sanctity of the steam room provides that scarcest of resources in the ‘new economy’ business world - time to think. Some of my best stock ideas and business strategies have emanated from the Merrion steam room. This is followed by a light lunch in the Cellar Bar with my favourite stockbroker - ostensibly to discuss stocks but really to exchange gossip in the Dublin financial markets!

14.00 Head back to the office in the IFSC for the Wall Street open - the view up the Liffey on a clear, crisp day is magnificent. On the way I make good use of my mobile phone to return voicemails, and to check on progress of the restoration of my new toy - a 1967 Volvo 1800 PS Coupe (yes, the one Roger Moore drove when he played ‘The Saint’ in the classic 1960’s television series) - far cooler than any modern German coupe!

14.55 Tea trolley time again - resist the goodies this time!

15.00 Integration update meeting with Tony Joyce, our finance director. The ‘new’ Hibernian Investment Managers follows from the merger of two successful investment managers - Hibernian and Norwich Union. Physical effect took place in August last year, and a major integration project is required to integrate the two sets of systems and processes. I’ve quickly learned that mergers are a major challenge in leadership and motivation, with fewer staff being expected to merge systems and processes while at the same time continuing to run the normal day-to-day business. Tony and his team have excelled in their planning and execution of this unglamorous but vital process, while coping with new funds inflows of over euro1.1 billion.

15.30 Time to divert the phone and concentrate on fund management. As chief investment officer I believe it essential to keep my hand in the markets and to run a few unconventional portfolios. I review the portfolio holdings and research a couple of potential new holdings. A stockbroker contacts me via Bloomberg with a distressed offer of a block of stock in an unloved Irish plc. I bid for the block 10 per cent below the offer level, and miraculously 20 minutes later I’m the proud owner. If my analysis is correct, then in a few weeks I should be able to sell the holding at a 20 per cent gain when the market regains its senses about the stock.

16.45 Off to visit a seriously wealthy family trust looking for a home for some of its assets. High net worth clients are the biggest growth area for investment managers globally, and Ireland is no exception. Hibernian has a great investment product range coupled with strong performance, and our new, more specialist funds are attracting a lot of attention from wealthier, more sophisticated investors.

17.50 Finish meeting and head off to collect Simon and Isabel from their minder; home at 18.05! 18.00 to 20.00 on weekdays are a fairly sacrosanct period for both Catherine and I to spend time with the children. After a light dinner, we like to go out for a walk, weather permitting - otherwise there’s a fight to use the pc (both children are frighteningly computer proficient).

20.30 Over a glass of wine I peruse the latest global strategy reports from several leading stockbrokers. There never seems to be enough quiet time in the office to give proper attention to these reports, so they invariably get put into my briefcase for study at home.

21.30 Check Wall St’s close via the internet (an up day for a change!).

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