Jupiter’s Chatfeild-Roberts: I was an average CIO

Jupiter’s John Chatfeild-Roberts admits he was only an “OK” chief investment officer, in his first interview since ditching the role.

Chatfeild-Roberts is currently concentrating on managing the £8bn Jupiter Merlin portfolio range, which he has already been heading for five years. Stephen Pearson, the former deputy CIO at the firm, took over the CIO role.

Chatfeild-Roberts says: “I was OK as chief investment officer but not more than OK.

“I am delighted to be back doing what I like the most – trying to persuade investors that your fund will perform the best. Running money and people is a different job, even if you are good at both.”

Looking ahead, Chatfeild-Roberts says his focus for the Merlin range remains finding the best fund managers.

He says: “Our focus is to make all our portfolios perform. Fund management is a school of hard knocks. It is all about attention to detail, performance and managers. There are good fund managers out there but there are not many.”

Chatfeild-Roberts says over the past 15 years around two-thirds of Jupiter’s excess returns have come from choosing the right managers.

He says: “We backed Neil Woodford since 1997 and now we hold 14 per cent of CF Woodford Equity Income fund in the Merlin range, equivalent to more than £500m.

“In the range, we also hold 26 per cent of James Findlay from another boutique firm, Findlay Park.”

Chatfeild-Roberts says boutique fund managers will continue to grow despite regulations making it harder for smaller firms or new entrants to succeed.

He says: “Regulation increases the barrier to entry for smaller players but if you got someone with enough energy you will grow.”

Over the past year, Merlin’s Balanced, Growth, Cautious and Worldwide portfolios have all outperformed their respective sectors, while the Income fund has lagged slightly.

Chatfeild-Roberts says he is not planning to launch other funds as his range covers “95 per cent of what investors would want”.

He says: “I am very sceptical of producing new products. You should stick with your stocks.”

Although not making daily changes to the asset allocation in the funds, Chatfeild-Roberts says his most recent big move was to reduce the exposure to Latin America over the past five years, going from a 10 per cent allocation to 1 per cent in his Worldwide portfolio.

He says: “We haven’t changed our positions since 2009. Our call is to be overweight developed markets with companies with repeatable earnings and with a solid balance sheet avoiding cyclical ones.” 

On the Balanced, Growth and Income portfolios Chatfeild-Roberts will remain overweight Europe and Japan.