e-fundresearch: Since when are you responsible for the fund management?
Leroux: I have been a portfolio manager since 1990 but I have been working at Carmignac Gestion since 1995 and I’m in this position since 2003.
e-fundresearch: Which benchmark do you adhere to?
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Leroux: Our investment style is resolutely non-benchmarked particularly noted for its global investment universe and specialized expertise in emerging markets and commodities. We are particularly well known for the top down, thematic investment approach driven by macro economic trends and more specifically growth opportunities in international markets. Performances are driven by the active management both at an asset allocation, sectorial level and active hedging policies. Nonetheless, in order to compare Carmignac Patrimoine performances, we use 50% MSCI ACW (Eur) +50% Citigroup WGBI All Maturities (Eur).
e-fundresearch: Are you responsible for other funds at the moment?
Leroux: I run Carmignac Investissement Latitude a feeder fund of Carmignac Investissement and the three funds of funds Carmignac Profil Réactif 50, Carmignac Profil Réactif 75 and Carmignac Profil Réactif 100 which are all global funds with a specific focus on equity exposure monitoring.
e-fundresearch: What is the total volume that you manage in all your funds?
Leroux: On the Fund of funds, I manage 1.2 billion euro and I contribute to the management of the 30 billion euro of Carmignac Gestion range of funds.
e-fundresearch: Regarding the performance, which performance did you achieve since the beginning of the year and in the year 2003-2008? Absolute and relative to the relevant benchmark?
Leroux: Carmignac Patrimoine performance on a 5-year period at the end of 2008 was at 42.89% against 6.07% for its benchmark and the year to date performance on September 30th 2009 is 15.25% against 9.71% for its benchmark. Carmignac Ivestissement Latitude has only a 5-year track record .The performance since inception is 94.81% vs its benchmark the MSCI ACWF (eur) of -6.12%.
e-fundresearch: How content are you with your own performance in the last years and this year?
Leroux: I was very disappointed of the Q4 2008 performances. We suffered from a lack of reactivity in the 1st weeks post Lehman Brother bankruptcy. It was mainly due to our failure to take sufficient account of the worsening financial crisis following the collapse, the Fund having failed to absorb the market downturn in September and some part of October 2008. In November 2008, the complete restructuring of the portfolio in order to focus on more defensive stocks, combined with an increase in hedges, helped achieve positive performance at a time of falling markets over the last quarter 2008. But globally, our funds have been able to benefit from the positive equity trends in the market.
e-fundresearch: How are you able to deliver added value for your investors?
Leroux: The value added I deliver to investors is threefold: the reactivity in order to face market movements and volatility, the contribution to top-down investment themes, and the market timing of equity exposure. Concerning the investment themes, we can see that since 2003, our positions in Emerging markets and in commodities have been largely profitable for the portfolio performance.
e-fundresearch: How long have you been fund manager already?
Leroux: I have been a fund manager for 20 years.
e-fundresearch: What were your biggest success and your biggest disappointment in your career as fund manager?
Leroux: Recently, my biggest success is the fact that I understood the final capitulation of the equity markets in March 2009 and that this infact was the inflexion point in the market turnaround. I have contributed to the decision to return to the maximum equity exposure of funds such as Carmignac Investissement to participate fully in the market rally. And finally, the use of equity and currency hedges made a significant contribution to Carmignac Investissement’s strong outperformance at the end of Q1 2009. My biggest disappointment was again in 2008, when we were too late to take into account the Lehman Brothers consequences on markets.
e-fundresearch: What kind of capital markets do we have at this moment? How do you act in this environment and what are the special challenges in this environment?
Leroux: We are in a liquidity driven market where the most important things are low interest rates and abundant liquidity. If this continues, equity markets should be well oriented. Strong activity figures put current equity markets in danger and put in doubt the need for further expansionary monetary and budgetary policies. At the moment, you must be a buyer not for fundamental reasons but rather for the reason that there is still abundant liquidity. As an example, continued worsening unemployment levels would signal positive news for equity markets as the government will continue to drip feed the economy.
e-fundresearch: what objective do you have till the end of the year and in the mid terms for 3 to 5 years?
Leroux: In the mid terms, my objective is always to deliver the best absolute performance and to identify the important market movements in order to find the best level of equity exposure. This is in fact when my position will be central for the management. The idea is always to build a track record.
e-fundresearch: Do you model yourself on someone?
Leroux: I do not have any model. In terms of asset management, I have my personal approach which is a mix between an understanding of the macroeconomic situation, the positioning of this situation in a long economic cycle (Kondratiev), and technical analysis input. I’m really focused on decoding the market sentiment.
e-fundresearch: What motivates you in your job?
Leroux: The most important motivation for me is to achieve a significant performance level. In this job, there is total accountability, and performance can be easily and directly measurable. A portfolio manager has necessarily a personal involvement in his results as he’s totally responsible for the performance of the funds he runs.
e-fundresearch: What else do you want to achieve or do you have any further aims as a fund manager?
Leroux: If you want to last in this profession, you need to be able to generate a strong track record with the idea that the more you manage, the more you gain a solid experience and you do better. You learn a lot in terms of market knowledge and understanding as well as the benefits of working in a team.
e-fundresearch: What other professions would you have taken interest in, apart from becoming asset manager?
Leroux: I had the chance to discover early that it was the job I wanted to do. This strong will comes from a finance lesson where I discovered that this profession allows you to open up to the world and to try to understand what’s happened around us. But, apart from that, I would have been interested in professions such as pianist or neurosurgeon, whose implications are direct, visible and which require to be personally involved.
e-fundresearch: Thank you for the interview!