Mathew Benkendorf: I have been managing the Fund since November 2010 together with Edwin Walczak, who has been managing the Fund since its inception in 1991.
e-fundresearch.com: What is the current size of the fund?
Mathew Benkendorf: As at 31 October 2013, the fund manages USD 1,620 million.
e-fundresearch.com: Do you also manage other funds or mandates?
Mathew Benkendorf: Yes, I’m the co-manager of the Vontobel Fund – Global Value Equity and the Vontobel Fund – European Value Equity.
e-fundresearch.com: What is the total amount of assets you manage currently?
Mathew Benkendorf: As a team, we managed USD 45.8 billion as of 31 October 2013.
e-fundresearch.com: How long have you been in the business as a fund manager?
Mathew Benkendorf: I joined Vontobel Asset Management, Inc. (VAMUS) in October 1999 and became co-portfolio manager for the European Equity Strategy in 2006 and for the Global Equity Strategy in 2008. In 2010, I became co-portfolio manager of the U.S. Equity Strategy and lead portfolio manager in 2012.
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?
Mathew Benkendorf: Our investment philosophy is based on the conviction that long-term, stable and superior earnings growth drives long-term investment returns and risk-adjusted out-performance. Vontobel employs a fundamental investment strategy that relies on bottom-up analyses to help us to identify high-quality companies. Our investment process begins with quantitative screening. We gauge companies’ future earnings and cash flows, analyze their strengths and weaknesses, and assess industry dynamics. We believe that by identifying sensibly priced high quality companies that can grow earnings faster than the market on a sustainable basis, we will be able to achieve superior returns through the effect of compounded earnings and stock price returns. Also central to our philosophy is the belief that compounding wealth requires preserving capital in down markets and that high quality franchises can provide downside protection. We build conviction-led concentrated portfolios that are designed to participate in a rising market and protect capital during declining markets.
e-fundresearch.com: Which benchmark is most relevant and how should investors compare the fund vs. benchmarks or peer groups?
Mathew Benkendorf: The Fund's benchmark is the S&P 500 Index TR net, which is the benchmark most widely used by our clients and is the industry standard. However, we are benchmark-unconstrained managers. Our main objective is to preserve capital for our clients and to compound returns at a high single to low double-digit rate over time. With this as our focus, we expect to outperform over a full market cycle.
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?
Performance to 31 October 2013. Source: Vontobel. Net of fees, in USD terms. *Inception date: 21/11/1991
e-fundresearch.com: What motivates you in your job?
Mathew Benkendorf: The primary driver of my motivation is the passion for the work I do. I love to pick stocks, and I am doing exactly what I’ve always wanted to do.
e-fundresearch.com: Which other profession would you have considered apart from becoming a fund manager?
Mathew Benkendorf: I have a genuine passion for my work. This is what I have always wanted to do. Investment research and stock picking is the direction in which I had always seen myself headed.
e-fundresearch.com: Thank you!