Morningstar Fund Manager of the Year Awards: The Winners

The Morningstar Fund Manager of the Year Awards 2019 crowned winners in three categories: Rising Talent, Outstanding Fund Manager, and Outstanding Investment House. We spoke to the victors. 

Holly Black 6 September, 2019 | 11:36AM
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Holly Black: Welcome to the Morningstar Fund Manager of the Year Awards 2019. We've got three awards to give away tonight "Rising Talent of the Year," "Outstanding Fund Manager of the Year," and "Outstanding Investment House." Let's go meet the winners.

Rising Talent of the Year

Laura, congratulations on winning the "Rising Talent" award. Are you excited?

Laura Foll: I'm very excited and very surprised to be honest. There are some really good fund managers in the category. So, no, I'm genuinely surprised. I'm not just saying that. I was saying to our sales guy, I had practiced my loser face quite a lot.

Black: What is it like to, as a new manager, bring your sense of self to a trust that's 50-odd years old?

Foll: Yeah, I think that's what makes it particularly nice, to be honest, because Lowland is very associated with James, who I manage it with, James Henderson. He's been running it for 30 years. So, I'm very much trying to sort of get my name out there on it. So, it's just a really nice recognition of that to be honest.

Black: And as a rising talent, what would you say to anyone else who's an aspiring fund manager?

Foll: I would say, say yes to everything you can. I used to be very shy. Still I'm quite shy. But it's just about saying yes to every opportunity you're given, whether it's going on the radio or going and presenting to clients, just say yes, and things that seem scary now probably won't be scary in five years' time. So, that would be my number one tip.

Black: Congratulations. Thank you so much.

Foll: Thank you very much.

Outstanding Fund Manager of the Year

Black: Jim, "Outstanding Fund Manager of the Year," possibly of all time. Congratulations. How are you feeling?

Jim Leaviss: Delighted. This is such a big award and it's just such a great venue and an awesome evening.

Black: And this is quite a big accolade, I think, for a bond investor, because a lot of people don't get excited about bonds, but they're wrong, aren't they?

Leaviss: I mean, you've got the thing. Bonds are the most exciting asset class. We don't go around just talking to company management and stuff. We get to think about the whole world about – you know, I've just got back today from South Korea, thinking about geopolitics, nuclear weapons, about global trade. It's a mixture of geography, politics, bit of nuts in there as well, and all of that good stuff. But it's the most exciting area of the market and has been for years, and probably the best performing area of the market for a very long time as well.

Black: And you've had a career that's spanned decades. So, how hass the market changed and how do you keep abreast of everything?

Leaviss: Well, it was all fields around here when I joined the market.

Black: Even the Thames.

Leaviss: Yeah, right, even the Thames. It's changed. It's become a lot more liquid. Bonds have become part of everyday portfolios. So, I remember when I joined M&G in the late 90s, very few people had bonds. And then there was some change in the tax law that allowed them to go into Peps and then Isas, and now, bonds are the building blocks of everybody's portfolio, and they've done very well out of that. So, it's been a great career, and lord may it continue.

Black: Well, congratulations. Really well-deserved and thank you for your time.

Leaviss: Thanks very much for the award.

Outstanding Investment House

Black: Stuart, Baillie Gifford just won "Outstanding Investment House of the Year. Are you excited?

Stuart Dunbar: Yeah, I guess, pleased about it. It's a recognition. I think the important thing is, we've – it's not about us, it's about trying to do good things for clients. And it's a recognition that we've managed to do that. It's a long-term thing. We've been trying for a very long time to get back to the basics of what we call actual investing. And so, great to have a bit of external recognition of that.

Black: What do you think sets Baillie Gifford apart?

Dunbar: We are really long term in what we do. Rather weirdly, we're not that interested in the stock markets. We're interested in businesses. We're fortunate in the way we operate ourselves, we can we can do that. We don't trade. Our turnover is very low. It's all about trying to find novel disruptive companies and holding on to them for long periods of time. And I think we're lucky as a firm to have no outside shareholder, so we can do that.

Black: Do you think it's important to have that ethos across the entire firm rather than different views for different funds?

Dunbar: Yeah, I think, culture is really important, telling you to do a good job. So, we work hard internally on cultural and long-termism. And definition of success is definitely not about what happened this quarter or this year. And we do that across the firm. So, not everyone is the same, but that really matters. I think a lot of what makes a decent fund management company is getting the correct incentives and mindset and culture in place. And I think we've done a decent job of that over the years.

Black: Well, thanks so much for your time, and congratulations again.

Dunbar: Thank you so much.

Black: That's it from us at the Morningstar Fund Manager of the Year Awards 2019. Congratulations to all of our winners. And thanks for joining us.

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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Holly Black  is Senior Editor,


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