The breadth of Schroders’ investment skills has been recognized numerous times this year, with a Best-in-Class in the House Awards for Asia Allocation and a Best in Class in the Retail Top 100 Asia Allocation Category for the Schroder Asian Asset Income Fund. The team also picked up a Best-in-Class in the House Awards for Multi-Asset Income.
Delighted with this success, Patrick Brenner, Head of Multi-Asset Investments, Asia pointed out that success of the company’s multi-asset income strategies is derived from the structured investment approach he and his team follow. “We always start by focusing on active asset allocation, because a static method is not suitable for investors looking for a stable income – asset classes exhibit different characteristics at various stages of the market cycles. Therefore, a dynamic allocation between the different asset classes allows us to capture opportunities.”
He continued: “We also take a benchmark unconstrained stance, allowing the maximum capture of any yield opportunities. This also allows a focus on securities which are both high quality and offer sustainable income: each security in the portfolio must either deliver an attractive income or provide diversification/risk management benefits.” Brenner noted the team’s active approach to risk management also reduces volatility and aims to deliver a strong risk-adjusted return/yield for investors.
Schroders’ multi-asset team harnesses all available investment resources, with input from the equity and fixed income desks. “This leverages almost all of Schroders’ 400 fund managers and analysts around the world,” noted Brenner.
The team is responsible for active asset allocation and risk management of the strategy and is, according to Brenner: “One of the best resourced in the industry, with over 80 professionals globally. There are professionals located in the major financial locations across the globe including London, New York, Zurich, Hong Kong, Singapore and Sydney.”
The two main equity teams involved are the quantitative equity product (QEP) team and the Asian equity team, which managed the global equities portfolio and the Asia and China equities portfolios, respectively. The 24-strong QEP investment team is a fundamental component of Schroders’ specialist equity capabilities and has representatives in London, Sydney, New York and Hong Kong. The Asia equity team, in particular, has been managing assets for over 25 years. On the fixed income side, the global credit and emerging market teams are responsible for security selection in the global multi-asset income portfolios. Brenner stated: “The global credit team consists of 16 credit portfolio managers and 39 credit analysts, with an average industry experience of 16 years. Meanwhile, the emerging market fixed income team consists of three fund managers with an average of 22 years’ investment experience.”
Stock selection for the Global Multi-Asset strategy is grounded in the analysis of company fundamentals indicating value and business quality. The team then targets companies with clearly dependable, rising dividends; it also reduces stock-specific risk by building a highly-diversified portfolio but with no less conviction.
According to Brenner, the investment process itself has two key components: “We take a global universe of over 15,000 stocks, which is analyzed daily and look for stocks with high and sustainable yields. Furthermore, we find companies which demonstrate the potential to grow dividends over time through improving fundamentals.” Brenner continued: “For those companies with relevant dividend characteristics, the ideal individual position size is determined by focusing on company quality and value. Business quality is captured through an assessment of profitability, stability and financial strength. In assessing value, we look at a range of metrics based on earnings, cash flow and assets, in addition to dividend yields.”
He believes that analysis and evaluation of Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) issues and their impact on investments is a fundamental part of the stock valuation and selection process. “We evaluate each company’s ability to create long-term, sustainable value and may question companies about any concerning ESG issues.”
Unconstrained Asian Investing
With the Asian Asset Income Fund, Schroders looks to provide investors with a regular income and generate capital growth over the medium to longer term. It is designed to be unconstrained and so can take advantage of any Asian yield opportunities. The Asian equity teams’ focus is therefore on investing in quality securities with a high yield and limiting the risk from speculative investments – the team actively avoids (or sells) companies where it believes dividends could be in danger, as indicated by an inconsistent pay-out history, declining profitability, or rising leverage.
“We achieve the Fund’s investment objective through active allocation, primarily between directly held Asian equity securities and fixed income investments that offer attractive yields, backed by strong fundamentals. If necessary, we will raise cash during adverse market conditions,” explained Brenner.
The team focuses on stocks that are: “Able to create real shareholder value, have a robust and stable earnings stream and have a high, sustainable dividend yield,” according to Brenner. “Our investment process has remained primarily bottom-up, though the team routinely review their outlook for each country to help inform their conviction in their holdings,” he continued.
In the Asian fixed income portfolio, the team selects securities that deliver attractive yield and capital growth, considering both fundamental and technical views such as valuation, demand/supply conditions and liquidity. At the portfolio level, the multi-asset team is responsible for risk management and for allocating dynamically between equities, fixed income and cash.
Throughout this process, a high emphasis is placed on the Fund’s sustainability of income regarding security selection. There is also a strong focus on quality to deliver a relatively attractive level of yield, at a reasonable price.
Demand for Income
According to Brenner, the long-term neutral asset allocation of the Fund is 50% in equities and 50% in fixed income and cash. However, the team has recently maintained a preference for equities over fixed income; that said, during more volatile periods, the equity exposure has occasionally been hedged by using put options on various market indices.
Given markets are likely to remain volatile in 2017, Brenner believes that a multi-asset income strategy, with a strong emphasis on risk management, will continue to be relevant for investors. BM
標準人壽投資歐洲小型公司基金的基金經理Andrew Paisley說：「我們團隊的投資風格看重質素、增長及走勢，因此我不會界定我們為價值投資者。小型公司的走勢一直良好，並可以持續多年 。」
他補充：「我們物色可持續發展而且有多年期增長的投資概念，而非短期重組類型 。再者，我們的投資方式絕對為『由下而上』，著重於40至50隻最佳概念的股票。一般而言，持倉會為3至5年，所以2016年基金轉倉率僅為19% 。」
標準人壽投資環球通脹掛鈎債券基金的聯席投資經理Adam Skerry與Katy Forbes利用全方位投資法，投資於通脹掛鈎債券。他們投資於多個市場，並利用一系列工具產生優於基準的回報。此外，他們合理地彈性遵從基準，讓投資經理可自由分配資金作有利投資。
Forbes闡明：「投資環球基金為各投資者帶來更多樣化和波動較少的投資選擇 。環球通脹掛鈎指數的平均年期為13年，相較而言，英國通脹掛鈎指數基於長期發行量增加， 目前平均年期超過20年。」
Skerry指，基金現時持有130隻債券，與不能超過單一發行的限制尚有一大段距離。不過隨着更多國家加盟指標行列及發行量變多 ─ 特別是較長期的債券，基金的持有債券的數量亦有所增加。基金回報以三個月的外匯滾動展期套期保值，與基金的計價貨幣美元對沖。此外，投資經理亦積極觀望貨幣（透過利率市場），以求為基金進一步締造優於基準的回報。
展望2017年，投資經理們相信， 央行在預期內仍會維持寬鬆貨幣政策。強健的全球經濟環境亦會令環球通脹逐步升溫，尤其是唐納・特朗普(Donald Trump)的保護主義政策很可能會為美國帶來更高通脹。
Skerry總結：「我們的團隊絕對有充足的資源，留意其他市場的投資契機。」Skerry 與Forbes憑豐富經驗在抗通脹大環境下作有利投資，標準人壽投資可望繼續為投資者帶來穩健回報。 BM