13 Questions for Canada Life AM's Suzima Abu-Zarin

In this series, we ask leading fund managers about everything from their investment strategy, to role models, their views on crypto, and what they’d never invest in

Marina Gerner 30 September, 2022 | 9:24AM
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In this series of short profiles, we ask leading fund managers to defend their investment strategies, reveal their views on cryptocurrency, and tell us what they'd never buy.

This week our interviewee our interviewee is Suzima Abu-Zarin, fund manager of the LF Canlife UK Property ACS at Canada Life Asset Management.

Which Sector Shows the Biggest Promise in 2022?

In this current environment looking through the property lens, rather than specific sectors it’s important to focus on identifying assets which evidence their adaptability and sustainability credentials. The hybrid working culture is here to stay and as more employees seek to establish the work/life balance that works for them it’s essential that spaces they use continue to be adaptable and able to be repurposed. This will put them in the best possible position to be able to capitalise on future opportunities.

What's the Biggest Economic Risk Today?

In today’s world I find it hard to single out one economic risk. We are currently experiencing global uncertainty as a result of (but not limited to) surging inflation, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Covid-19, potential conflict between China and Taiwan, and the changing role of China on the world stage. Alongside all this, we could already be experiencing some of the irreversible effects of man-made global warming. All of which will have an impact on the built environment and how it adapts.

Describe Your Investment Strategy

Our philosophy is to seek consistent investment returns from balanced and consistent portfolios. We look to invest in value-add opportunities and actively manage assets to strengthen income streams and enhance capital values. Our ESG approach is also integral to our strategies. We are committed to adopting a responsible approach to the environment and have a commitment reach to net zero by 2050 or sooner.

Which Famous Investor Do You Admire?

Ursula Burns. As the CEO and chairman of Xerox she was one of the first black women to be CEO of a Fortune 500 company. I have a lot of admiration not just for her work ethic and professional achievements but her passion for the community and supporting equality.

Name Your Favourite "Forever Stock"

Gilead Sciences for a mixture of ethical and sustainable reasons. As a biopharmaceutical company it has a longstanding commitment to fighting social inequality and often works with people who find themselves targeted by stigma. Commitment to ethical, sustainable practices can also drive strong investment outcomes. Proving that stocks can be valuable without just existing to make profits.

What Would You Never Invest In? 

Honestly, anything that I don’t understand. If I can’t understand the underlying value, I won’t invest.

Growth or Value?

Both is important. From my perspective we need both elements to ensure success. This rule applies not just in investment but also in life. Growth and value need to work together to ensure we get the quality success.

House or Pension?

Again both! Both obviously have an element of risk attached but investing in both means you can diversify your risks.

What Are YOur Thoughts on Crypto?

For me it’s currently too volatile. It’s hard to see the underlying value and the lack of regulation makes it more of a risk.

How Can We Increase Diversity in Fund Management?

Encouraging diversity of all kinds, whether that’s race, gender, economic background or ways of thinking has to be led by example with visible support from the very top. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses and a diverse team will be able to capitalise on the strength of different opinions and views.

Have You Ever Engaged With a Company and Been Particularly Proud (or Disappointed) in the Outcome?

As the fund manager for a property investment fund I’ve been really impressed by some of the managing agents I’ve worked with and their practical approach to integrating ESG, improving cost efficiency and effective energy management. A few have been really willing to think outside the box and come up with new solutions or ideas. Some have even put beehives on the roof to support biodiversity!

What's The Best Bit of Advice You’ve Ever Been Given?

Quite simply, “in order to get, you have to give”. By making an investment to understanding your colleague’s lives outside of work, you get that back in spades. If you want respect, you’re going to have to give respect.

What Would You be if You Weren’t a Fund Manager?

Before I had children I probably would have said a pilot because I’ve always liked numbers, creative problem solving and worked well under pressure. Since I’ve been a mum I would honestly love to focus on that ‘role’ completely with my two junior colleagues!

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Marina Gerner  is a freelance journalist

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