Provide a brief background to your career path. What are the driving factors that motivate you in your current role? Has this changed post-COVID?
After finishing university, I joined the Graduate Program at Colonial Ltd where I gained invaluable insight into various key corporate business functions, one of which involved being a member of Colonial’s M&A strategic team. This gave me the opportunity to travel to the UK where I carved out an opportunity to work in the Group’s International Funds Management business. As a result, my investing career started in London, 20 years ago, where I worked as a global equities generalist for large corporates including First State Investors and Aviva Investors plc. After ten years I moved back to Australia where I found my opportunity at Bell Asset Management and where I have been since working as a Senior Global Equities Analyst. At Bell Asset Management I have primary research responsibilities as a global small and mid-cap (SMID) equities generalist and I co-lead the consumer discretionary and consumer staples sectors. The factors that motivate me today are the same as 20 years ago, including a passion for learning and discovering investment stories around the world. The old cliché is true, where every day in this industry you learn something new or something that tests your knowledge and improves on it. In many regards COVID has not changed this, rather it has continued to deepen my experience in this industry.
I look back to my time working through September 2001 and the GFC whilst working in London, and am able to draw upon these significant market disruptions to navigate through the current market dynamics in an attempt to continue to find pockets containing the next exciting and sustainable investment story.
How do you inspire others around you?
Our team has a very flat and inclusive culture where the team are encouraged to present and debate investment ideas and work collaboratively on research projects. As a senior member of the investment team, I foster this culture by encouraging open dialogue and offering guidance and support to my colleagues.
What is one key theme or investment idea for the year ahead?
A major investment theme for the year ahead is the strong role the consumer will play in a post COVID world. Of particular interest is how this impacts the consumer discretionary sector given the amount of stimulus and discretionary dollars sitting in the hands of the consumer; a consumer that represents close to 75% of the US economy. This is creating a lot of pent up demand, that is still yet to be realised, in a number of sectors. In addition, when you consider the changes in consumer behaviour that we’ve seen over the last year, where people are now valuing their home and their own domestic ‘backyard’ differently, this creates a very powerful dynamic. As a result, we expect to see for some time, more of these discretionary dollars go towards the home, more local travel and outdoor experiences. We believe this will continue to strongly support many of our SMID names, which are quite unique and operate in these niche and growing areas of the global market.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It is a wonderful way to acknowledge the contribution of women in society and the progress that has been made towards equality. However also a reminder that while we have come a long way, there is still much work to do to ensure work cultures are truly inclusive and allow women the opportunity to reach their full potential.