Fund Manager’s Diary

Friday 1am and I am discussing darts in a cable car going down the Swiss Alps. There are worse places to find yourself, except that it is overshadowed by the prospect of a 5am wake-up call for a taxi ride to Milan’s Bergamo airport.

Morning rolls around and I am huddled in the back of a car winding its way at ferocious pace down the Swiss mountainside. I stumble out to negotiate airport security and a Ryanair flight – it’s a glamorous life. Phone the office when I get back and there is little happening so I decide I can best serve my investors by going home and getting some sleep.

Saturday Woken by my eight-month-old son at 7am but I feel pretty human after an early night. There are the usual baby-induced chores before I find time to visit my local record store. Buy new CDs by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Soft Machine, as well as an obscure New Zealand compilation specially recommended by the staff. Ever since I bought the reissued Slowdive back catalogue I have been inundated with these “recommendations”. As anyone who has ever watched the film High Fidelity knows, it is a sign of acceptance in the social minefield that is the record store.

Sunday Sleep, baby, grocery shopping, baby, sleep.

Monday Back to work. After a few days out of the office I need to remember I am a fund manager as well as a salesman, father, record buyer and husband. I talk briefly to the sales force about Q1 performance – we are top-quartile so everyone is happy. I see no need to make wholesale changes to the portfolio. Interestingly, the stocks that drove performance in Q1 were mainly those that performed in Q4 2005. I expect the same broad themes to continue. Spend the morning catching up on newsflow from the previous week. My wife goes to the theatre with her mother, who is visiting from the US, so I find myself babysitting and listening to New Zealand art-rock.

Tuesday Weekly team meeting in the morning, where we go through the fund and stocks held in it. My main interest is in National Bank of Greece, which has announced the acquisition of Turkish bank Finansbank. The Logic behind the deal appears sensible and initial market reaction is encouraging. I decide to retain the fund’s holding for now. The rest of the day is taken up with research and a few meetings. Manage to get to the gym at lunchtime.

Wednesday There is a bit of excitement in the afternoon when one of our recent purchases, Parmalat, wins a court case, prompting a sharp rise in the share price. Our analyst was very early to the party with this stock and feels there is plenty more to go for. I agree. Flick between Arsenal reaching the Champions League semi-finals, Celtic winning the Scottish Premier League and Alan Sugar firing people in the evening.

Thursday Get in to find some hefty broker price target upgrades for a few of our favoured stocks. Prices react accordingly, helping us get off to a strong start for the new quarter. There is a meeting with the sales force to discuss a forthcoming trip to Paris later in the morning, then lunch with a journalist. A busy day is rounded off with a client presentation in the afternoon, but it has been a good day for the fund so I go home happy.

While watching EastEnders, my wife and I decide we need a night out at the weekend so we book a babysitter. I celebrate the decision with a glass of wine while watching ER. Flick through the channels before going to bed and find there is darts on. It will be useful as a topic of conversation when I am next on a cable car in Switzerland.

James Buckley is manager of the Baring European Growth trust. His diary runs from March 31 to April 6.