e-fundresearch.com: What is the current size of the fund?
Chris Bullock: The current AUM (assets under management) of the fund is €76m, although the fund has grown relatively quickly from just €14m at launch.
e-fundresearch.com: Do you also manage other funds or mandates? What is the total amount of assets you manage currently?
Chris Bullock: Yes, I am also responsible for the Horizon Global High Yield Bond fund (co-managed with Kevin Loome), the Horizon Euro Corporate Bond fund (co-managed with Stephen Thariyan) and the Credit Alpha fund (co-managed with Stephen and Thomas Ross). I also manage a small number of discretionary segregated mandates in investment grade corporate bonds. Total AUM for the above funds is approximately €4.5bn.
e-fundresearch.com: How long have you been in the business as a fund manager?
Chris Bullock: I have been a portfolio manager since the launch of the Credit Alpha fund in summer of 2007. Prior to that I worked as an investment grade and high yield analyst at both Henderson and Insight Investment. My career initially began as a Chemical Engineer in the late 1990’s before moving into business finance, initially as a management accountant before moving into investment management.
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?
Chris Bullock: The key basis of our investment philosophy is to search for inefficiency in investment prices. This starts with establishing the fundamental fair value for corporate bonds (and credit derivatives) through our credit research, and then comparing this with the market price. Our analysts are sector specialists and cover the entire ratings spectrum. Portfolio managers and analysts review investment decisions and implement through our dedicated credit dealing desk. Holdings are constantly monitored versus our targets and review levels. The fund manager is responsible for the overall shape and construction of the portfolio, based on our overall target asset allocation.
e-fundresearch.com: How many positions does the portfolio usually contain and what is the average holding period of an investment?
Chris Bullock: The fund will typically have anywhere between 100-150 positions with an anticipated holding period of around one year, although clearly this depends on the condition of the market at any point in time. For example, higher liquidity (hence lower trading costs) and an active new issue market are likely to result in lower holding periods.
e-fundresearch.com: To which extent does fund size impact the efficiency and effectiveness of your investment strategy?
Chris Bullock: Our investment strategy is one of active management hence fund size is certainly a relevant factor. At its current size, portfolio liquidity is very good hence we are able to fully implement our investment decisions.
e-fundresearch.com: In which market environment does your investment strategy deliver the best (relative) results?
Chris Bullock: Our flexible approach is designed to be capable of generating positive relative returns in any market environment. That said, given that corporate bonds are an income-yielding asset class and that we view our greatest value-add in our ability as stock-pickers, an environment where there is a functioning new issue market, dispersion between companies, and M&A and other event-driven catalysts is arguably the most favourable.
e-fundresearch.com: Which benchmark is most relevant and how should investors compare the fund vs. benchmarks or peer groups?
Chris Bullock: We manage the fund against the “Bank of America Merrill Lynch European Currency Non-Financial High Yield 2% Constrained” index. The Morningstar Euro High Yield peer group is the most relevant for peer comparison.
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?
Chris Bullock: Through April YTD the fund has returned a net absolute return of 3.8% and a net relative return of +0.35%. In 2013 the fund returned 11.7%, a net relative return of +2.55% above the benchmark. Life-to-date the fund is cumulatively 3.6% above benchmark in the 18 months since its launch.
To use a fund with a longer track record, the Horizon Euro Corporate Bond fund which launched in December 2009 has delivered an annualized +2.8% net outperformance against its benchmark since inception.
e-fundresearch.com: What motivates you in your job?
Chris Bullock: Striving to deliver for our investors, and from a competitive perspective, outperforming our peers over the credit cycle.
e-fundresearch.com: Which other profession would you have considered apart from becoming a fund manager?
Chris Bullock: As a keen sportsman, I always dreamed of travelling the world as a professional golfer, although unfortunately I didn’t quite have the talent! Thankfully I found a career which I both enjoy and that throws up a new challenge every day.
e-fundresearch.com: THANK YOU!