13 Questions for Redwheel's James Johnstone

In this series, we ask leading fund managers about everything from their investment strategy, to role models, their views on crypto, and their unpopular opinions

Marina Gerner 24 June, 2024 | 11:20AM
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In this series of short profiles, we ask leading fund managers to defend their investment strategies, reveal the biggest risks to the bull market, tell us their unpopular investment opinions, and discuss what they'd never buy.

This week our interviewee is James Johnstone, Portfolio Manager of the Morningstar 5-star rated Redwheel Next Generation Emerging Markets Equity Fund.

Describe Your Investment Strategy

We seek outgrowth at a reasonable price over the next 10 to 20 years. For example, I first researched Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) as a $22 billion (£17.4 billion) company in 2001. Its market capitalisation is now $675 billion.

What Are 2024's Biggest Investment Opportunities?

The return to real assets and the recognition the world has finite resources in commodities and people. Emerging markets provide the solutions to the world’s problems. They meet much of the world's commodity needs and have younger populations with strong workforces, which is why our strategy focuses on emerging and frontier markets.

What Are The Biggest Risks to The Current Bull Run?

Any increase in geopolitical tensions between the West and a China/Russia/Iran-led alliance may be damaging for the global economy.

Who is the Most Inspiring Person You've Worked With?

Robert Friedland. I have invested in several of Robert's mining operations over the last three decades. He has always been at the very forefront of thought leadership on how the world can transition to clean energy and combat climate change. I also owe a lot to Philip Ehrmann who was my inspirational boss at Gartmore and taught me a lot about emerging markets. 

What (if Any) Investments Fit the 'Buy and Hold Forever' Category?

Well, I wish I could get in my time machine and say TSMC from 2002. I think it will continue to dominate the world of semiconductors for years. For decades to come, I do not think you can get a better investment than a tonne of copper.

What Would You Never Invest in?

Never say never, but I am not a big believer in crypto.

How Worried Should Active Managers be?

Active managers should always be worried – it's their job! I think there will always be a role for the human brain versus a machine. Everyone – be they quant machines or real people –hates the bottom and loves the top of every cycle. It is just fear and greed. Will computers of the future ignore those emotions? Ironically, active long-term managers should be able to outperform as markets become increasingly passive and quant driven.

What Unpopular Investment Opinions Do You Have?

How can over a third of the world's population attract barely 0.00001% of the world's investment savings? Frontier markets have young people and commodities, which most developed markets are lacking. The West will need to prioritise investment in these economies over the next 50 years. Africa, South Asia and Latin America will likely be the surprises of the next three decades in the same way East Asia and Eastern Europe were over the last three decades.

Will We See a Crypto ETF in the UK?

I'm sure we will. I just doubt I'll notice!

Does Asset Management Have a Role in Assessing Social Factors?

Asset management has a role in producing returns, and returns are only produced by companies and assets which grow with the societies they service. Therefore, all stakeholders need to flourish to allow returns to be sustainable. So yes, definitely.

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

As a team we meet over 3,000 companies a year. We are always happy when we get it right. We learn when we get it wrong. And we still own TSMC in the funds, so...

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

Always think forests and trees.

What Does Your Life Outside of Fund Management Look like?

Family, freinds, gardening, and real tennis.

For the Full List of 13 Questions

Read Here

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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Marina Gerner  is a freelance journalist

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