e-fundresearch.com: Mr. Serge Pizem you are the fund manager of the AWF Global Optimal Income fund. When did you take over the responsibility of managing this fund?
Serge Pizem: At launch beginning of last march.
e-fundresearch.com: What is the current size of the fund?
Serge Pizem: The fund is small with 12 millions euros seed money from AXA.
e-fundresearch.com: Do you also manage other funds or mandates?
Serge Pizem: Yes, I manage the AWF Optimal Income fund since its launch date of November 2003.
e-fundresearch.com: What is the total amount of assets you manage currently?
Serge Pizem: 1 billion Euros
e-fundresearch.com: How long have you been in the business as a fund manager?
Serge Pizem: 15 years managing money and 24 years in the financial industry
e-fundresearch.com: What are the main steps in your investment process and in which area is your competitive edge to add value to investors?
Serge Pizem: 1st step is to determine the desired level of risk in the portfolio (what mix of equity, bond, cash). The Fund enjoys a large leeway that allows allocation to equities to vary from 0% to 100%. In the event of an anticipated market downturn, the exposure can be tactically adjusted through the use of listed derivatives.
Then we go bottom-up selecting securities focusing on high quality stocks from both developed and emerging markets. On the fixed income portion we tactically allocate to emerging market, high yield, government and credit bonds.
Thanks to Global Optimal Income’s broader investment universe, we are able to offer to our clients wider sources of value that are complementary with the existing European focused AWF Optimal Income fund.
Our stock picking skills illustrated by the outperformance of the equity carve-out on the AWF Optimal Income fund over 9 years shows a 130% return against 64% for the MSCI Europe. We have also managed to reduce numerous equity drawdowns by tactically reducing the fund exposure through the sale of equity index futures.
e-fundresearch.com: Which benchmark is most relevant and how should investors compare the fund vs. benchmarks or peer groups?
Serge Pizem: The fund should be compared with peer groups. Morningstar is doing it for example. As at end of march 2013, the fund is 1st quartile over 1 and 3 years.
e-fundresearch.com: 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?
Serge Pizem: The fund has delivered YTD performance of 3.64% (as at end of march 2013) with 4.25% volatility. Since launch (November 2003) performance was 63.54 and 7.06% volatility. The fund has not a benchmark but when compared to the MSCI Europe, it has delivered an equity like return with more than half of the European equity market volatility (MSCI Europe YTD +5.45% / Vol : 10.40% and since Nov. 2003 : +70.23% / Vol : 19.73%).
e-fundresearch.com: What motivates you in your job?
Serge Pizem: Asset Management is at the heart of the world economic life. One needs to integrate so many variables and make decisions in an uncertain and moving world. These are very motivating challenges. Moreover, being also a stock picker, I have the privilege to meet fantastic entrepreneurs and top managers.
e-fundresearch.com: Which other profession would you have considered apart from becoming a fund manager?
Serge Pizem: Lawyer or Military.
e-fundresearch.com: Many Thanks!