Fund managers diary

Richard Marwood is manager of the Axa Distribution fund. His diary runs from February 20-26.

Monday: Maybe I am too simplistic, but in my view there are only two things you can do with debt; pay it back, or default on it. Greece seems to be going for a bit of both – selective default and some paying back (albeit with somebody else’s money.) This week’s developments have not solved the euro problems, just bought a little bit more time.

My day finishes slightly earlier than usual as I dash off to catch my daughter’s recorder concert.

Tuesday: I am out of the office for the day, marketing to IFAs in Exeter. I do a lot of presentations to clients and advisers. I enjoy the chance to get away from staring at a Reuters screen and talk to investors about the economy and the markets. One of the big areas of questioning in these meetings is index-linked gilts, an asset class that forms a key part of our investments. Are they overvalued? Well, they are certainly not cheap, having had a vintage year in 2011 and trading on negative real yields.

The discussion focuses on the important role linkers play in a diversified portfolio, acting as a safety-net, should we get another shock to the markets (perhaps trouble in Iran spiking the oil price, renewed eurozone worries or a collapse of economic activity in China). We also discuss how with so much “unconventional monetary policy” being pursued around the world, inflation could still spike. (Diary continues below)

Wednesday: Today, I am back in London, but spend the morning taking part in a round table discussion about the changes to the IMA sectors with journalists and other fund managers. The Cautious Managed sector has been rechristened Mixed Investments 20%-60%. The general view around the table was that the name change did not necessarily help people better understand the degree of risk in portfolios. When people look at funds, just looking at the equity weighting will not necessarily tell them how volatile a portfolio might be.

For one thing, not all equities behave the same way, and for another it is vital to look at what non-equity assets are held in the portfolio, alongside those equities – it is not just equities that can be volatile. We all agree that there is no substitute for looking carefully at what a fund holds and understanding how a manager builds a portfolio.

Having had a day and a half out of the office, the afternoon is spent catching up with the day job.

Thursday: A significant part of the job is to meet companies. We usually see at least two or three companies in our offices each week and these meetings are always useful and interesting. Today is the turn of Anglo American.

Friday: A day with no meetings, so a good chance to catch up on news and look through my portfolios.

Saturday: An early start today (even earlier than a work day) as I am flying off to Barcelona for the weekend to do a bit of sightseeing and also to run the Barcelona half marathon.

Sunday: Race day. I complete the course in one hour and 34 minutes, which I am happy with, given that it was a lovely warm day. That sort of weather is great for sightseeing, but not so good for running.

I spend the afternoon wandering round Antoni Gaudi’s architectural wonders in the sunshine. No sign of euro austerity. The city is bustling, in part because of the run and the good weather, but also because of a huge conference for the mobile phone industry that starts on Monday. My hotel is half full of conference delegates, plus a handful of fellow runners.