Monday: I went to bed in Guernsey and seem to have woken up somewhere in the Arctic Circle. Guernsey isn’t used to dealing with a lot of snow, so I’m not sure how the island is going to cope. I have a feeling that the schools will be closed and I’ll be working from home.
Richard Hodgetts and Nick Maunder – the other members of our team – make it in and they’re more than capable of running things in my absence.
Tuesday: Get into the office today, but it is pretty dangerous going – it makes me think about that succession policy I keep telling investors about.
Spend much of the morning looking at a couple of macro funds. Both are with good houses. We changed our approach to fund houses towards the end of 2007. Operational problems have been the main source of fund blow-ups in the past and we do not invest in small fund houses. It wasn’t that long ago when the words “niche” and “boutique” were big selling points, but for us now, this couldn’t be more of a turn-off.
Wednesday: Off to Geneva today for a couple of days of presentations. What starts out as a normal enough journey has turned into a farce as a plane drops hydraulic fluid all over the runway at Gatwick. Our flight from Guernsey is diverted to Southampton. The comedy of errors continues as the baggage truck reverses into the side of the plane with a resounding thump. Looks like we’ll be getting a coach to Gatwick after all. I hope we make it in time for my flight to Geneva.
The Bank of England begins its meeting today and we’re all expecting a drop in rates again, but I don’t expect it to be more than 50 basis points after the recent moves. Whatever the outcome of the meeting, I don’t understand how the banks are suddenly going to start lending. Credit got us into this mess and it’s frightening to think that the UK government is relying on credit to get us out of it.
Thursday: A busy day ahead. Mike Brown, our head of fund sales, has lined up some large institutions for us to talk to. It will be interesting to see how affected Geneva was by Madoff. It becomes apparent that the Madoff scandal is every bit as big an issue in Geneva as in other parts of the world. Much of our conversations focus on due diligence and liquidity. We have concentrated hard to ensure that our underlying liquidity more than meets the fund’s overall liquidity needs. The message from these institutions is that few managers have been able to retain attractive underlying liquidity after meeting the recent waves of redemptions.
Friday: The day starts with a breakfast presentation. Yesterday was large institutions, today seems to be private clients, though with no less money at their disposal. The tone is the same from the attendees – how did we manage to dodge all the pain the industry suffered at the end of last year, and tell us about your due diligence and liquidity. We’ve been saying the same since 2007 – we look to place our investors’ money with the types of managers who aren’t afraid to make decisions and are happy to go short and long when necessary. We’re not asset allocators, we’re fund pickers. Sadly, I don’t have any time to relax in Geneva and it’s back to the airport. It seems Gatwick is still having problems with ice and snow.
Saturday: Much of the snow has melted – it’s sad that these harsh market conditions won’t thaw as quickly. I spend the morning playing with the kids. Guernsey is beautiful when the sun comes out, and I’ve promised I’ll teach them to surf.
Sunday: A relaxing day watching sport and a little bit of prep for my early Monday morning meeting.