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Protect. Then Grow.

A day in the life of an equity fund manager

What does the world of investment management really involve? Here is how growing wealth and preserving capital drive our daily routine.

One of the great aspects of investment management is that no two days are the same.  As an Australian equity fund manager, Chester Asset Management aims to find the high performers that can help our investors protect and grow wealth.

As part of this goal, my day starts at sunrise.

Australia's equity market is closely tied to US markets. So, I begin each morning checking what has happened overnight in the US, and making sense of the 'why' behind market movements such as changes to interest rates.

After a quick breakfast with the family, I like to run or ride to work.

I'm at my desk by 8.30 am, and the next two hours are usually taken up analysing the daily news flow. This can include announcements from the Aussie stock exchange, media releases about new products from individual companies, and quarterly production updates.

This early activity gives me - and my team of analysts - a framework on which to base investment decisions.

The Chester High Conviction Fund, which was awarded Money magazine's Best Australian Shares Fund in both 2023 and 2024, has achieved average after-fee returns of 14.4% annually over the past 10 years.  Those sorts of returns don't happen by chance. Careful research plays a critical role.

Afternoons spent with company leaders

By the time midday rolls around, I generally only have time for a snack at my desk. That's because the afternoons are especially busy. This is the time our investment team spends speaking with fund investors, working on our quarterly fund updates, and meeting with company leaders.

As a fund manager, being able to meet and talk with company executives directly gives us an advantage that retail investors don't share.

On a typical day, my team and I engage with anywhere from three to eight companies. That's more than 1000 listed companies each year.

These close encounters are absolutely instrumental to developing a sense of how a company is tracking.

As a fund manager with a team of career investment specialists, we look for companies that are under-loved or under-appreciated by the market, yet have plenty of upside. Meeting with company executives can be particularly revealing on this score.

It's about being able to read body language, and pick up subtleties that can shine a revealing light on a company's fortunes and future prospects.

The remainder of my afternoon is often spent on further research, addressing issues that are not time-sensitive.

Our team of five analysts typically review the various opportunities facing the 35 or so stocks in the fund's portfolio. But we have a watchlist of over 50 listed companies that we research on a daily basis.

The aim of all this analysis is to minimise downside surprises while maximising the upside of investment opportunities.

This is part of how Chester Asset Management approaches investing.

Our goal of protecting and growing our investors' wealth makes it essential that we recognise the downsides of an investment, while being confident the upsides are skewed in our favour.

Achieving the best results for investors

As the fund manager, the buck stops with me. It's a significant responsibility, though, after 20 years in the role, I know when it's appropriate to back the stock selection suggested by my analysts - a team I have tremendous faith in.

I guess one of the unique aspects of my job is that I personally know a lot of our unitholders. I also have my own money invested in the fund. It's a powerful reminder of the importance of the decisions I make.

So, while the focus of my day is driven by our mandate to protect and grow wealth, we stick to disciplined processes. We know these will deliver the best long-term results for our investors.

My day doesn't end when I leave the office. Last thing each evening, I check the news feed from home.

Stock markets are impacted by a vast array of factors, and a single piece of information could make a difference to the returns that Chester Asset Management delivers to investors.

And I am always mindful that our unitholders have put their trust in me and my team, to help them achieve their personal goals.


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