Fund managers diary

Ed Beal is the manager of Dunedin Smaller Companies investment trust. His diary runs from November 28 to December 4.


Monday: The week starts with a team meeting. We discuss the performance of our holdings and consider what changes, if any, we want to make to our model portfolios. We then have a fund review. This time it is for the smaller company funds and we decide to go ahead with an introduction of BBA Aviation.

Tuesday: Spend the day doing what the team likes best – meeting companies. One of the most interesting aspects of this job is the access we get to the highest level of company management and the diversity of business models we encounter. I see Daily Mail and General Trust, the publisher of the Daily Mail newspaper, Novartis, a European pharmaceuticals business, and Helical Bar, a property developer and investor. It is striking how optimistic many management teams are when one considers the eurozone crisis and the possibility of a second global recession.

Wednesday: Paperwork beckons. I have two impending board meetings for an investment trust we manage and I have to write a review for the annual report and prepare for the audit committee. Late in the day I stop the report writing and go to see Sage, a provider of accountancy software for small and medium-sized companies.

Afterwards we have an interesting debate about whether it is a software company or whether it is a service business. I am not sure that I have decided yet but, I have re-affirmed that I know less about the “cloud” than I should. (Diary continues below)

Thursday: I fulfill one of my commitments from my annual appraisal. Jeremy Whitely, the head of UK and European equities, is keen that I attend a course on presenting. I do a lot of presenting and quite enjoy it but it is a good idea to get some formal feedback in case I am developing bad habits. This proves to be quite interesting and I am sent away with some areas for improvement.

In the afternoon I score a minor victory. A specialist electronics business that I have been following for some years is coming into the office. Despite its small size I persuade a couple of my colleagues that it is interesting enough to see.

Friday: We have a meeting with Atlas Copco, a compressors manufacturer, which has a wide range of customers. This turns out to be a well-attended meeting. Not only are we joined by some of our global equity team, but a fund manager at a competing house calls and asks if we would mind if he joined us.

Later we have the second of our weekly team meetings. We open with a discussion about the economic data that has been published and what that might mean for our expectations for growth and hence equity valuations.

Subsequently we review all the results that have been released by our investments during the week. We also have a discussion about all the companies we have seen over the past few days. It can be quite lengthy, but it means that each member of the team is fully aware about what is happening at all our investee companies.

Saturday: I take the dogs for a long walk and as I get to the top of the hill the first snow arrives. Between sawing logs and preparing some pheasants for dinner I manage to get away for a couple of hours to feed the ducks.

Sunday: We recently moved house and, despite my best endeavours, my wife finally corners me and we have a lengthy chat on the merits of various curtains and carpets. I escape by taking my daughter swimming.