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Importance of country selection

Tom Wilson is fund manager of the recently awarded Schroder ISF Emerging Europe Fund (Lipper Fund Awards - Switzerland 2013, Category: Equity Emerging Markets Europe). He talks about the importance and success of taking country selection as a basis of his investment process and provides detailed insights into the fund's key differentiating features. Managers | 21.02.2013 02:00 Uhr
Tom Wilson, Fund Manager, Schroder ISF Emerging Europe
Tom Wilson, Fund Manager, Schroder ISF Emerging Europe When did you take over the responsibility of managing this fund?

Tom Wilson: I assumed responsibility for the Schroder ISF Emerging Europe (ISIN: LU0106817157) in February 2007.  Allan Conway, head of Emerging Markets equity, is also a co-named fund manager for all strategies managed by the team, including Emerging Europe. Allan joined Schroders at the end of 2004. What is the current size of the fund?

Tom Wilson: Schroder ISF EM Europe €637.3 m (as at 31 January 2012). Do you also manage other funds or mandates?

Tom Wilson: I am a named fund manager for the Schroder ISF Emerging Europe only. As Head of Emerging Market Equities, Allan Conway has an oversight role for all eight strategies managed by Schroders’ Emerging Market Equities Team, which had total AUM of approximately €18.9 billion as at 30 September 2012 (the latest available AUM release date). How long have you been in the business as a fund manager?

Tom Wilson: I assumed responsibility for the Schroder ISF Emerging Europe in February 2007. I joined Schroders in 2001 after graduation and primarily worked as an analyst before being promoted to FM. What are the main steps in your investment process and in which area is your competitive edge to add value to investors?

Tom Wilson: We believe our investment process for Emerging Europe equities is clearly differentiated from the bulk of emerging market equity investment managers by the following factors. First, the importance given to country selection and the use of a proprietary top-down quantitative model that forms the basis of our country decisions.  It is clear using historical data that the country decision is extremely important in emerging markets and our process seeks to add 20% of our returns from this decision.  Having decided how much to invest in each country on a quarterly basis, we seek to select stocks within each country using the strongest conviction ideas from our large in-house research team.  Finally, risk management is a key feature of our process.  At all levels of decision-making risk is managed with the aim of achieving consistent returns with a positive skew.  We believe these disciplines set us apart from the competition.

In addition to these disciplines mentioned above, we believe our experienced team and global resources available to them set us apart from the competition. Our key differentiating features in managing Emerging Europe equities are summarized below:

Investment Process
– Targets 80% of added value from stock selection and 20% from country decisions  
– We believe that the country decision is important and can add value for our clients. Quantitative country model, coupled with judgemental overlay, drives country decisions
– Detailed fundamental research drives stock selection
– Rigorous pro-active risk management, including alpha-adjusted tracking errors and a stock stop-loss rule*

– 1 dedicated fund manager and 3 analysts**
– Supported by a further 34 investment professionals in the wider emerging markets team, which overall has an average of 13 years of experience**
– Centralised portfolio construction and asset allocation in London
– Efficient matrix team structure

Global Resources

– Team’s analysts are based worldwide across eight countries
– Central economics team based in London
– Global platforms for dealing, settlement, risk, research and performance

* This is not a guaranteed stop-loss rule and may be temporarily suspended during periods of market volatility.
** As at 31 December 2012; overall team data includes one Asian equities analyst for whom we are currently recruiting. Which benchmark is most relevant and how should investors compare the fund vs. benchmarks or peer groups?

Tom Wilson: The Schroder ISF Emerging Europe is managed against the MSCI Emerging Europe Markets 10/40 Index.  This benchmark provides diversification across around 80 stocks.  In addition, the MSCI index provides an initial corporate governance screen and ensures that our portfolio is not exposed to particularly illiquid sectors.

We aim to be competitive against both the benchmark and our competitors. Which performance did you achieve for the fund YTD and over the past five calendar years in absolute terms and relative to relevant benchmark or other reference indices?

Tom Wilson: Schroder ISF EM Europe A Acc (Net of TER) versus MSCI Emerging Markets Europe 10/40 net (TR) YTD to 31st January
Fund return: 1,2%
Benchmark: 0,7%

5 years to 31st January p.a
Fund return: 1.0%
Benchmark: -0.6% What motivates you in your job?

Tom Wilson: I enjoy the intellectual stimulation that managing money provides. Markets never stand still and it is an endlessly varied and interesting job. Which other profession would you have considered apart from becoming a fund manager?

Tom Wilson: I come from a military family so when I was young also considered the army. But I always looked more towards a career in finance and would not swap my job for anything - I love running money. Many Thanks!

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