e-fundresearch: Mr Alister Hibbert, you are the Managing Director at BlackRock and Fund Manager of the BGF Continental European Flexible Fund (ISIN: LU0224105477). Since when are your responsible for the fund management?
Hibbert: Since March 2008.
e-fundresearch: Which benchmark do you adhere to?
Hibbert: FTSE World Europe ex UK (gross).
e-fundresearch: Are you also responsible for other funds at the moment?
Hibbert: Yes- the BlackRock European Dynamic Fund, which is a UK onshore unit trust and a clone of the BGF Continental European Flexible Fund.
e-fundresearch: What is the total volume that you manage in all your funds?
Hibbert: As at August 31st 2010, I personally manage €762m in Europe ex UK equities.
e-fundresearch: Regarding the performance: which performance did you achieve since the beginning of the year and in the years 2003-2008? Absolutely and relatively to the relevant benchmark?
Hibbert: I’ve been managing the BGF Continental European Flexible Fund since March 2008.
Year to date as at the end of August 2008, the BGF Continental European Flexible Fund has returned +6.38%, whereas the FTSE World Europe ex UK benchmark has lost -0.89% in the same period.
During 2009, the Fund outperformed this benchmark by +16.42%, returning +47.10% versus +30.69% for the FTSE World Europe ex UK.
From March 2008 to the end of 2008, the Fund outperformed the benchmark by +5.58%, returning -28.44% versus -34.02% for the benchmark.
Relative to its peer group, the Fund is firmly within the first quartile across all time periods.
e-fundresearch: How content are you with your own performance in the last years and this year?
Hibbert: I am particularly pleased that the Fund has consistently outperformed both its benchmark and its peer group over this period. The volatility experienced over the last 2-3 years has been unprecedented in our current lifetime and the team’s ability to generate outperformance during such diverse market conditions is testament to the flexibility of our rigorous investment process.
e-fundresearch: How are you able to deliver added value for your investors with your performance?
Hibbert: The Fund’s added value is derived from a combination of a rigorous, efficient investment process, a highly experienced European equity team to find the very best ideas within the region, and an approach to portfolio management that allows conviction in stock selection to drive returns whilst remaining highly risk-aware.
e-fundresearch: How long have you been a fund manager already?
Hibbert: 14 years.
e-fundresearch: What were your biggest successes and your biggest disappointments in your career as fund manager?
Hibbert: My biggest success was producing top decile returns (relative to peer group) during the 12 months leading up to the bottom of the bear market in March 2009 and first decile performance in the 12 months following. My biggest disappointment was underperforming the benchmark in the calendar year 2001- the only calendar year in which I have underperformed in my career.
e-fundresearch: What kind of capital market situation do we have at the moment? How do you act in this environment?
Hibbert: The capital market situation at present remains volatile, and investors remain uncertain amidst concerns over both the peripheral European economies and a potential ‘double-dip’ recession in the US. In this environment, I believe it is important to retain conviction in my strongest bottom-up investment cases, whilst having a strong awareness of the macro environment in order to ensure my portfolio is correctly positioned at a sector and country level. I also think it’s important to be flexible in my approach to portfolio construction as investment cases can rapidly develop and change in these more volatile times.
e-fundresearch: What are the special challenges in this environment?
Hibbert: I believe that the biggest challenge at present is managing factor risk in an environment where emerging market economies are performing significantly better than those in the developed world.
e-fundresearch: What objectives do you have till the end of the year and in the mid term for the upcoming 3 to 5 years?
Hibbert: My objective is, first, to beat the benchmark and, second, to outperform my competitors in the industry. Over the next 3-5 years, my ultimate goal is to consistently produce top quartile returns in the Europe ex-UK equity space throughout the market cycle.
e-fundresearch: Do you model yourself on someone? Any ideals?
Hibbert: I don’t model myself on one person but I am inspired by other Fund Managers in the industry.
e-fundresearch: What motivates you in your job?
Hibbert: A genuine passion for the stock markets and an intrinsic curiosity for businesses. I relish the challenge of stock picking and, although extremely challenging, the intellectual satisfaction and constant challenge it presents is both fascinating and rewarding.
e-fundresearch: What else do you want to achieve or do you have any further aims as a fund manager?
Hibbert: My next goal is to establish the preeminent European High Alpha franchise globally- something that I believe BlackRock’s European Style Diversified Team is well capable of delivering on.
e-fundresearch: What other profession would you have taken interest in, apart from becoming a fund manager?
Hibbert: A surgeon.
e-fundresearch: Thank you for the interview!