Page 7 - DIY Investor Magazine - Issue 26
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The Emerging Markets Trust team has a wealth of experience in the sector – in particular, Forey, who has been with the Trust since the mid-nineties and so has weathered enough storms to view current events calmly. Whiting sees that depth of specific emerging market experience as hugely important.
‘If you have emerging markets as an offshoot of global equities then the minute all these analysts and portfolio managers move into EM they get absolutely shocked by double-digit declines in a day, which we’re quite hardened to.
Thankfully they’re not too frequent but the increased volatility comes as part of the asset class.’ The key as a long-term investor is having the experience to look through the market noise, to focus on fundamentals not headlines. That results in low turnover rather than the portfolio being frequently shuffled around or changed.
‘There are times the market will sell down everything in a country just because of the country it’s in. But if you believe that you’ve bought good quality businesses, if you trust their management, if they have a robust balance sheet, and if they have a superior product – then, sitting on your hands is the best course of action.’
As a result, the Emerging Markets portfolio changes little,
and, as far as Forey is concerned, that’s a good thing. In
a tumultuous year, stock turnover is in single digits, while performance remains strong, with excess returns of around 3% above the Index in the Trust’s fiscal year to the end of June 2020.
With analysts and portfolio managers largely unable to travel during the pandemic, the advantage provided by the Trust’s 100-strong global team is more obvious than ever. In a rapidly changing environment, the ability to access granular first-hand insight is invaluable. The Emerging Markets team collectively speaks over 20 different languages, conducting around 5,000 face-to-face meetings a year in mother tongue.
However, it’s not only those formal meetings which can make the difference – being immersed in the local culture can be just as valuable, as Whiting explains.
Out of any asset class the breadth and the cultural differences across emerging markets make it so important not to just be sat behind a Bloomberg terminal looking at numbers. Having people on the ground in the likes of Shanghai and Taipei means we see first-hand the pick-up in traffic, or queues for restaurants again.’
The Trust team is fully conscious that not all in emerging markets is rosy, with those countries having weak fundamentals to start with being weakened further by the current crisis.
‘That’s something we have to be aware of when we think about markets and growth rates for individual companies – it’s very important to understand what the drivers are,’ says Forey. However, as Whiting points out, ultimately for the Trust, it’s not about regions, countries or even sectors but about individual businesses. ‘More than anything, in this sort of situation the strong will get stronger,’ says Whiting. ‘If you’ve got companies with money behind them, with a strong balance sheet, with a clear, differentiated offering, you will do well.’
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    7 DIY Investor Magazine | Dec 2020

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