It is an infrequent occurrence when any member of the On the Road team here at Wealth Manager arrives late to a pub club meeting, writes Alex Foster. It is even more unusual when you arrive on time and see your interviewees already sat with a bottle of red resting on the table. No complaints from myself and Eleanor however, anticipating our chat with Lawrence Cotton (above, far right) and Mark Burtenshaw (far left) of WH Ireland would be as smooth and rich as the Merlot.
Cotton started his career at Schroders, before moving to Barclays Wealth for five years. Following this he joined WH Ireland, just before the credit crunch, where he has now been for
Burtenshaw also came from a private banking background before joining WH Ireland eight years ago, moving through American Express Private Bank, Morgan Stanley Global Wealth Management and RBC Wealth Management.
Now both are team leaders in their office, working on discretionary portfolio management, EIS and IHT portfolio services for their clients, with Cotton running £450 million in his team and Burtenshaw managing £425 million. No competition there of course. Not even slightly.
Moving on from a potentially awkward situation, we begin to discuss specific funds and fund houses, as well as the trends they see happening in the next decade.
‘At the moment we are keen on the Schroders US Mid Cap fund,’ Cotton begins. ‘However, we also really like Miton and BB Healthcare, small fund houses doing a really good job.’
Burtenshaw adds: ‘We tend to use collectives for our overseas exposure, mainly from the large fund houses. But we predict there’s going to be a huge change in the market over the next 10 years – the middle ground will soon fail to exist. Either things will become gargantuan or remain small and niche.’
I wonder whether they think trends like thematic investing will also cease to exist in the future, and we begin to talk about their unique approach to ethical investing.
‘We started committing to ethical investing about five years ago,’ Cotton says. ‘But we are looking at quite unique and specialist funds for this thematic play.’ One fund they are particularly keen on is the Goldman Sachs Global Millennials Equity Portfolio.
‘It’s a compelling fund because as you’d expect it is packed with innovative tech such as automation and AI, but it has a really interesting take on this, a tilt toward the millennials it invests in companies such as Airbnb,’ Burtenshaw explains. ‘It’s predominantly a mixture of tech and industrials blended with healthcare and consumer discretionary.’
On a more macro level, the pair have clear affection for the US.
‘The UK market has been one of the worst performing over the last 10 years – there is a large density of retail firms on the FTSE, whereas if you look at the US, it’s predominantly tech companies,’ remarks Cotton. ‘Along with the weakness of sterling, the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and the lack of strength exhibited by both the prime minister and Jeremy Corbyn, this all leads to a struggling UK market.’
‘With America, Donald Trump’s increasingly protectionist stance, a stubbornly strong dollar and corporate tax reforms all benefit domestic US companies, so we are therefore keen on the US mid cap space,’ says Burtenshaw. ‘However, the threat of a trade war is something that nobody wants.’
It is safe to say that is something we can all agree on.
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‘A bond liquidity crunch on an ECB QE unwind.’
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‘Continued 2018 synchronised global recovery. Improved awareness of environmental and social issues, resulting in a cleaner and brighter future.’