It is hard to deny that gin is the flavour of the month, year and possibly decade in drinking halls around the world. Young hipsters with their well-groomed beards and oh-so-self-conscious Abercrombie and Fitch shirts have been hailing Mother’s Ruin as if it is some newly discovered panacea and speaking in reverent terms about this most British of drinks.
Spy, being older and more grizzled, has seen this movie before. He can remember the days when gin was the only spirit of choice while vodka was for spies and “rough-sorts” only. However, even Spy was surprised to discover that a gin sour cocktail called “Last Word” was a Detroit favourite in the years leading up to the Prohibition era*.
Like drinks, funds that are currently unfashionable will come back into favour and don’t be surprised if your trendier fund selector types are soon hailing some bygone asset class as if they are the first investor to ever discover it… The wheel turns, and the world with it.
It is the summer and Spy has come across more people moves than usual. Perhaps it is those gin cocktails…
It has come to Spy’s attention that Fabrice Chemouny is going to take up the role of head of Asia Pacific at Natixis Global Asset Management. He is currently global head of institutional sales based in Paris if his LinkedIn profile is up to date. If Spy’s source is correct, and Spy believes it is, he will take up his role in September and be based in Hong Kong. Natixis is one the world’s largest multi-boutique asset management firms. Unlike Legg Mason or BNY Mellon, Natixis GAM does not always own outright the more than 20 boutiques within its stable.
With the announcement that Jack Lin, as reported by Spy recently, will take over the South East Asia leadership of Amundi post its merger with Pioneer, it appears Jenny Sofian has stepped down from her South Eastern leadership role. Spy has no idea where she is going to or even whether she is going to stay within the industry.
News has reached Spy that Gigi Chan, Janus Henderson’s head of China sales has stepped down from the firm. There is no news of where Gigi is moving to, although she is expected to remain in Hong Kong. Janus Henderson’s merger over the last year has been relatively complimentary, with relatively few forced headcount reductions.
J.P. Morgan Asset management has lured Alexander Treves to join the business in Hong Kong in the role of Head of Product Specialists. Alexander is a Fidelity alumnus and also had a stint at the wealth management boutique Silverhorn Advisers. J.P. Morgan AM has a few things to smile about – not least of all the fact that its J.P. Morgan Asia Growth fund is up 27% in the last year.
In Singapore, Ogar Widjaja has left BlackRock to join Deutsche Asset Management. Spy understands that Ogar is going to help with passives sales. It is, if nothing else, a statement of intent by Deutsche AM. Deutsche’s X-Trackers range of funds has several listings in Singapore, including its Euro Stoxx 50 tracker, MSCI Europe and MSCI World ETFs.
Eastspring has lost one of its Hong Kong marketeers. Spy has learned that Kazumi Chidachi has left the Asian asset management giant. Eastspring has doubled its AUM in the last five years and has been growing its footprint across the world in recent times. With M&G and Eastspring firing on all cylinders, Spy imagines that Prudential Plc, their parent, must be rather pleased with its brood.
It is the half way mark. How is the world looking? Well, if you ignore street protests, deadly fires, political uncertainty, Trump, Brexit, Hong Kong agitation and difficult ancestral homes at Oxley Road – it seems not too bad.
Spy came across this rather exquisite graphic by Bloomberg and Deutsche Bank illustrating the returns per asset class in the first half of the year. It has to be said that one almost has to have been unlucky not to have had a decent return so far. The gloom people have been predicting ad infinitum has simply not appeared. If you can find the fund that went short oil and long emerging markets, you will probably see a cat that licked the cream…
Spy keeps an eye on asset manager share prices, of course. A number of them are trading at, or close to, their one-year highs this week: Jupiter, Amundi and Invesco for example. All are having a stellar year. But the one that really caught Spy’s eye is Lazard. The company is up nearly 70% this year. As emerging markets have bounced back, no doubt Lazard has been a real beneficiary. With a dividend of 3.5% and P/E of only 14, they can hardly be called expensive either.
How much more pain can the global oil market take? In a move Spy can only describe as kicking a man when he is down, Volvo has announced it is going to scrap all pure internal combustion engines in its vehicles by 2024 in favour of hybrid and electric ones. Perhaps the message is filtering down from the Chinese leadership to Volvo’s Chinese owners, Geely: we have seen what pollution is doing to the world and we want it to stop. Spy tips his hat to Volvo. The smog in Hong Kong is unbearable at times. This seems a good move.
One of Spy’s photographers has come across some Aberdeen advertising in the Singapore MRT. Spy is not sure if the advert is new but Aberdeen is focussing on Multi Asset.
Until next week…
* The Last Word Cocktail
- 0.75 oz London dry gin (Spy recommends good old fashioned Beefeater – dry and not too pungent)
- 0.75 oz lime juice
- 0.75 oz Green Chartreuse
- 0.75 oz Maraschino liqueur
- one lime wheel
Shake over ice and strain into a cocktail glass, garnishing with the wheel.
Spy is happy to go out on a limb and predict the Kiwis will win this weekend’s British Lions clash. Spy could be wrong, but he has made every sporting call, so far this year, a correct one. Just sayin’.