Q&A: CF Miton’s Martin Gray
The multi-manager heads up four funds of funds, including CF Miton Special Situations Portfolio. His strategy focuses on global economic themes.
By Mark Smith, Reporter, Financial Express
Wednesday March 30, 2011
Have the huge macro events of recent weeks impacted your fund, or made you change any holdings?
"During volatile periods my management style and trading on the funds tends to be quieter as I prefer to avoid the noise generated in markets. Admittedly what happens in markets will effect whether it’s the right time to sell or buy into them on occasions."
"However, you tend to be able to judge in advance how markets are going to react based on fundamentals and the bigger global outlook rather than specific incidents. Markets have been affected more by events in Portugal and Spain instead of recent events in MENA or Japan."
"Certain events make people chase risk; therefore risk assets have got ahead of themselves in recent weeks. I believe there is only a 50/50 chance of more quantitative easing and my portfolios have been positioned as this being a less likely scenario."
What changes have you made over the past year to your portfolio?
"My management style focuses on macro themes and it is these that change more than stock positions. A major theme change is the switch from GBP/USD to Asian currencies, which ties in with a longer-term theme across the portfolios of an East versus West bias."
"The Asian theme is via currencies or bonds, not equities. I have been de-risking the portfolio over the last year, which has mainly been a result of increasing protection rather than selling assets."
"Top-ups have been made mainly as a result of increased inflows into the funds rather than changes of strategy, so holdings such as Franklin Templeton or Schroders Asian bonds have been increased."
Your fund is relatively large (£606.2m AUM). Does this help or hinder you as a manager? How do you cope with sudden large inflows or outflows?
"Because we are asset allocators following macro themes, our process is both scalable and repeatable. There are so many financial instruments available today which make managing funds of a larger size much easier than it would have been historically."
"Our funds are largely multi-manager and this, coupled with a macro-driven investment style, means that we can cope easily with fund flows without the management process being hindered."
Over the past one and three years your volatility has been significantly lower than your sector, while you have outperformed. How have you achieved this?
"The lower volatility tends to result from my management style, which is completely unconstrained. Not being confined to benchmark weightings, I am able to invest in accordance with my view of markets and global economic trends and this tends to result in lower volatility over a three-to-five-year period."
"The absence of tightly controlled benchmarks allows me to be more of a contrarian investor, allowing me to invest without restraint."
To what extent do you invest in equities? What is your open-ended to closed-ended holdings ratio? Why do you favour a particular vehicle?
"I invest in all types of assets to achieve optimal returns for whatever themes are prevalent in the portfolio at a specific point in time. Liquidity is always important and sometimes I will utilise large blue chip stocks to gain access to a sector whilst ensuring the holding remains liquid."
"At times when the portfolio is positioned more towards risk assets, you would naturally see a greater exposure to equities or ETFs than at present, which is entirely consistent to my current views."
"Closed-ended funds are a smaller proportion of the fund than in earlier years, approximately 10 per cent. Many closed-ended vehicles are smaller and so access can become more limited as a fund increases in size, but as I mentioned earlier there are a variety of assets available to managers which we didn’t have access to several years ago."