10 Minutes With: Rathbones' James Thomson

In the first of a new series, we speak to James Thomson, who runs the £1.7 billion Rathbone Global Opportunities fund, on investing mistakes and how to meet the love of your life online

Annalisa Esposito 26 July, 2019 | 1:51PM
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James Thomson from Rathbones

James Thomson, 43, has managed the Silver-rated Rathbone Global Opportunities fund for 16 years – he got the job once he had reassured his boss that his degree in Romance Studies didn’t mean he had spent years learning about kissing. The fund invests over two thirds of its assets in US stocks, followed by a solid 17% in Europe and just 6% in the UK. Top holdings include Amazon, Mastercard and Visa.

What does the fund do?

We try to find the best businesses around the world. Some years that goes better than others – so while the fund has delivered an average return of 13% a year over 15 years, that hasn’t been consistent.

Which stock are you currently excited about in the portfolio?

Match Group. This is the online dating group that owns sites such as Match.com, OkCupid, PlentyOfFish, but the real beauty in its stable is Tinder. People used to snicker about online dating but that’s over and these days it’s quite mainstream. Ten years ago around 3% in relationships met online – now it’s a third. These companies can really help you meeting the love of your life!

What's your best ever investment?

The UK property website Rightmove; I’ve owned it for over a decade and made a 1,005% return.

And your worst?

Maxjet Airways. It wasn’t able to cope when oil prices soared and the firm went bust on Christmas Eve 2007. It was a mistake I’ve learned from and I’ll never do again.

What’s the stock you didn’t buy that you wish you had?
I met the management of Apple in California just a few days after they launched the first iPhone. I had the chance to spot one of the most important new products in consumer electronic history and I didn’t. That’s been very painful.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?

My entire investment process is built around mistakes I’ve made and lessons I’ve learned. I like simple, easy-to-understand businesses that can adapt. They have to have a sustainable model and do something different, that’s to copy. But the most important lesson I’ve learned is: when you find it, run with it. Run your winners and cut your losers.

What do you do in your spare time?

I have a young family, so I spend plenty of time in rooms with padded walls – by that I mean soft play centres, of course, although the stock markets can make you crazy.

If I weren’t a fund manager…

I grew up on the island of Bermuda in the Caribbean and I love fishing, so I thought I could be a commercial fisherman. The only problem was that I didn’t catch very much and I don’t really like the smell of fish.

What’s the best thing about this industry?

You have the chance to see the most innovative companies in the world – I meet with around 200 every year.

And what’s the worst?

The pressure to perform and that the industry is struggling to grow.

The information contained within is for educational and informational purposes ONLY. It is not intended nor should it be considered an invitation or inducement to buy or sell a security or securities noted within nor should it be viewed as a communication intended to persuade or incite you to buy or sell security or securities noted within. Any commentary provided is the opinion of the author and should not be considered a personalised recommendation. The information contained within should not be a person's sole basis for making an investment decision. Please contact your financial professional before making an investment decision.

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Securities Mentioned in Article

Security NamePriceChange (%)Morningstar
Rathbone Global Opportunities R Acc  

About Author

Annalisa Esposito  is a data journalist for Morningstar.co.uk

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