Female fund managers reveal how they came to be in the job and where they invest their own money

Female fund managers reveal how they came to be in the job and where they invest their own money

March 8 is International Women’s Day and the theme for 2020 is a gender-equal world

Darius McDermott
Fri, 03/06/2020 – 16:40


Diversity has been a focus for businesses and professional investors for nearly a decade: the 30% Club was launched in the UK in 2010, for example, and its intended target of a minimum of 30% women on FTSE 350 boards by 2020, was reached in September 2019.

But while diversity is a subject that fund managers now regularly engage in with businesses, they themselves are still lagging behind. If you have an Isa or a pension, the chances are it is being managed by a man. There are more funds run by men named David than there are female fund managers, according to Morningstar. Of 1,496 UK-listed open-ended funds, 108 are run by managers named David (7.2%), but just 105 have a woman at the helm.

There is no logical reason why there should be so few women as the role itself is very egalitarian: investment performance is completely transparent, so if you are able to deliver solid and repeatable performance, you will likely succeed whether you are a man or a woman.

I spoke to three female fund managers about how they came to be in the job and where they invest their own money.

Claudia Calich, manager, M&G Emerging Markets Bond

“Growing up in Brazil, I experienced various economic crises, including hyperinflation, recessions, currency devaluations and political instability. While those were difficult periods on a personal level, living through those troubled times was fascinating. It inspired me to study economics and focus my Masters’ thesis on the Latin American debt problem. Then I started my career in investment with research positions in economics and debt research.

“My best investment so far has been Ukrainian bonds. In 2015, tensions between Ukraine and Russia caused a huge sell-off of Ukrainian assets. The economy was in a deep recession; the currency had collapsed and bonds were trading at less than 40 cents on the Dollar.

“I went to Kiev on holiday: flights and accommodation were cheap as no one wanted to go there, even though it was perfectly safe. That made sense as an investment opportunity. Bonds looked very cheap, so on my return I decided to step in – they more than doubled in value within six months.

“My personal investments follow a similar approach to how I run my funds. Diversification between asset classes and regions remains paramount. I pay particular attention to factors such as growth, inflation, monetary policy and geopolitical risks. As such, I am invested in US, European, Japanese and emerging market equities, as well as emerging market debt.”

Amanda Sillars, co-manager, Jupiter Merlin Growth

“A friend actually suggested I should think about a career in equities. I hadn’t even considered it: my degree, and passion, was Art History. But he was right: companies, markets, politics, economics – they all fascinate me. So I embarked on early alarm calls, eight years of professional exams and a challenging, demanding, but hugely worthwhile career.

“My best financial decision was to listen to my father. When I left school, he organised a bank account and credit card for me, but promised me that he would never, ever, pay off any overdraft I incurred. I was on my own. He explained how compound interest worked and used credit card debt as an example. I have strived to do the same with my children.

“My own money usually goes into the Jupiter Merlin Growth Portfolio. But if I had to choose another investment, it would probably be the RIT Capital Partners investment trust. It has a growth bias while aspiring to protect on the downside, it is multi asset so can capture the best investments and best underlying managers, and is tax efficient – in other words, a one-stop shop. It is also managed by a very strong team of people who really care about and focus on the trust, day in, day out.”

Chisako Hardie, manager, AXA Framlington Japan

“I was born and brought up in Japan and never dreamt of becoming a fund manager until I came to the UK. After graduating with a degree in sociology, I worked in Tokyo for a few years. When I finally settled in Edinburgh, I looked around for a job that utilised my one differentiating asset – being Japanese – and was offered quite different positions by three financial institutions. I made my choice and joined as a trainee investment analyst.

“I continue to be positive about Japanese equities. While most global investors only look at Japan from a macroeconomic point of view, they do not see the individual opportunities that exist. I am in regular contact with many exciting Japanese growth businesses, which are seriously undervalued today.”  

Past performance is not a reliable guide to future returns. You may not get back the amount originally invested, and tax rules can change over time. Darius’s views and those of the investment professionals quoted are their own and do not constitute financial advice.

Darius McDermott is managing director at Chelsea Financial Services and FundCalibre

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Five energy suppliers banned from taking on new customers

Five energy suppliers banned from taking on new customers

Energy watchdog Ofgem could revoke the licenses of five suppliers if they continue to breach smart meter rules

Brean Horne
Fri, 03/06/2020 – 15:05


Five energy suppliers have been banned from taking on new customers after breaching smart meter rules, the energy watchdog Ofgem has ordered. 

The providers include Daligus Limited, Enstroga Ltd, Entice Energy Supply Limites, Euston Energy Ltd (currently trading as Northumbria Energy) and Symbio Energy Limited. 

All five companies failed to sign up to a common smart meter system called the Data Communications Company (DCC). 

The DCC enables communication between smart meters, all energy suppliers and network companies. 

Ofgem required all energy suppliers to become DCC users from 25 November 2017 to launch the first generation of smart meters (SMETS1) and drive the installation of the next generation of smart meters (SMETS2). 

Suppliers that do not sign up to DCC cannot install second generation smart meters for their customers. 

Customers switching from a DCC-connected smart meter to any of the five companies named will lose functionality of their smart meter.

As a result, they will have to enter their meter readings manually. 

Ofgem says that this “causes consumer detriment” and could undermine customers’ confidence in the smart meter programme and the switching process.

In January this year, Ofgem warned nine energy providers that they could have their licences taken away if they failed to become DCC users. 

Three of the suppliers; Ampower, Green Supplier Limited and UK National Gas Ltd have now become compliant. 

One supplier, Better Energy Limited no longer has any domestic customers, as a result it was not issued with a final order and its licence will be revoked on 20 March 2020. 

The five remaining suppliers will be banned from taking on new customers unless they become DCC users by 31 March 2020. 

Ofgem warns that it “will consider further enforcement action, which could result in their licences being revoked” if the providers fail to comply by the deadline. 



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Coronavirus fraud: UK victims lose £800,000 to scams

Coronavirus fraud: UK victims lose £800,000 to scams

Fraudsters have stolen over £800,000 from UK victims new data shows

Brean Horne
Fri, 03/06/2020 – 12:31


Victims across the UK have lost over £800,000 to coronavirus-linked scams over the last month alone, new data from the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has found. 

Since February, 21 reports of fraud where coronavirus was mentioned were reported to the Bureau. 

Ten of the 21 reports were made by victims who attempted to purchase protective face masks from fraudulent sellers. 

One victim reported losing over £15,000 when they purchased face masks that were never delivered. 

The National Fraud Intelligence Bureau has received multiple reports about coronavirus-related phishing emails attempting to trick people into opening malicious attachments or revealing personal or financial information. 

Fraudsters are also contacting people via email and posing as officials from research organisations including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organisation. 

They claim to be able to provide a list of coronavirus infected people in their area. To access the list the recipient must lick on a link which leads to a malicious website, or is asked to make a payment in Bitcoin.

The number of coronavirus fraud cases is expected to rise as the virus continues to spread globally. 

How to protect yourself from scams

While scammers are trying to capitalise on fears surrounding coronavirus, there a number tactics you can use to protect yourself. 

Here are three ways to avoid being scammed:

1) Be vigilant

Be cautious of calls, emails and messages you receive out of the blue. Never respond to unsolicited or unexpected contact, especially if the call tries to pressure you into making a payment or handing over personal or financial information.

It’s vital not to click the links or attachments of suspicious emails either. 

2) Think before you buy

If you’re buying from a company or person you don’t know and trust, do some research beforehand.

A quick search online can help you identify if a seller is legitimate. You could also ask someone close to you for help and advice if you’re still unsure. 

3) Protect your devices

It’s important to install the latest software and app updates to protect your devices from new threats.

You can do this by checking the security settings on your phone. It will let you know if your device software is up to date. 




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Virgin Media data breach leaves 900,000 customers exposed

Virgin Media data breach leaves 900,000 customers exposed

The company says that the data for customers was left unsecure online for 10 months

Stephen Little
Fri, 03/06/2020 – 11:13


Virgin Media has apologised for a data breach that has seen the details of 900,000 customers accessed.

The database did not include passwords or financial details. However, it did contain limited contact information such as names, home and email addresses and phone numbers.

The database was accessed on at least one occasion, but Virgin Media does not know the extent of the access or if any information was actually used.

The breach occurred because one of its marketing databases was “incorrectly configured” which allowed unauthorised access.

Access to this database, which has been left unsecured since April 2019, was immediately shut down.

Virgin says it has contacted all affected customers and has informed the Information Commissioner’s Office.

A Virgin spokesperson says in a statement: “Our investigation is ongoing and we have contacted affected customers and the Information Commissioner’s Office.

“We take our responsibility to protect personal information seriously. We know what happened, why it happened and as soon as we became aware we immediately shut down access to the database and launched a full independent forensic investigation.”

Virgin has warned customer about the risks of identity theft and phishing. It says that if anyone has been a victim of identity theft they should contact Action Fraud.

Ernest Doku, telecoms expert at Uswitch.com, says: “Almost a million Virgin Media customers will be rightly concerned to learn that their personal data has been accessible and unsecure since last summer.

“10 months is a long time for information useful to scammers, like phone numbers and email addresses, to be left available online.

“While it’s fortunate that only one ‘unknown user’ accessed the information in that time, it only takes one person to sell that information to cyber-criminals.

“Virgin Media will undoubtedly review its policies to make sure that this doesn’t happen again, and reassure its customers that their data is safe.

“If you have been affected by this data breach, be wary of any emails from unexpected sources, and never click on any links in messages that you aren’t 100% confident about.”

How to protect yourself from phishing attacks

Scammers use emails and text messages to trick you into giving out your information. 

Always question unsolicited requests for your personal or financial information, and never click on the links and attachments in emails or texts you receive out of the blue.

Don’t assume a phone call or email is authentic. Phishing emails or texts will often look like they are from a real company that you know or trust.

Just because someone knows your basic details (such as your name or address), it doesn’t mean they are genuine. Criminals can easily spoof the phone numbers and email addresses of companies you know and trust.

If you have been a victim of a phishing scam you should change all of your passwords immediately. The strongest passwords also contain a mixture of capital and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols.

If you have been a victim of fraud or cyber-crime you can report it to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040.

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