When someone suggests lunch at Le Bab, you don’t decline, writes Eleanor Mahmoud.
Even if it’s clearly not a pub. Reason being that Le Bab in Soho serves the most wonderful ‘posh kebabs’. It’s not just me describing its food this way either – the no-nonsense restaurant refers to itself as ‘a kebab renaissance project’.
Located on the top floor of foodie’s paradise Kingly Court, I meet Psigma Investment Management’s Daniel Adams (pictured) here for what probably should be known as Kebab Club. With a beer in hand, Adams tells me about his early steps into the industry.
‘I graduated with a degree in geography but I have always been interested in the economy and markets,’ he begins. ‘I managed to get some work experience at Psigma and eventually got offered a permanent job with them. I’ve now been here for almost 11 years.’
Starting in the firm’s private client team, Adams initially trained as an investment manager before moving to its investment team. He is now a senior investment analyst and finalist in 2017’s Wealth Manager Top 100.
‘The investment environment has changed markedly since I first joined Psigma,’ he continues. ‘At the time, we would have held around 20% in funds and 80% in direct securities (bonds and equities), whereas now it’s probably the other way around.’
We pause to discuss starters and I take up Adams’ suggestion of Le Bab’s lamb shoulder and onion bhajis – an entirely delicious recommendation at that.
What was a team of three when Adams joined is now a team of six, led by chief investment officer Tom Becket. Operating as a team of generalists, Adams explains they are a macro and asset allocation driven house.
‘We strongly believe that as investors, one should be as much concerned with the interaction of asset classes as they are on
a standalone basis’, he says.
‘I think we are much more macro focused than many of our peers, but in my opinion you have to be. In this environment you have to prioritise exactly where you want to allocate capital.’
At this moment, my priority was where to allocate my main course. Deciding on a lamb Adana flatbread for Adams and a chicken shish flatbread for me, our waiter shuffles off and we wait patiently.
‘We remain unashamedly on the fence going into 2018. We continue to see the positives of this “Goldilocks” environment, but wonder how much of this is now priced into markets,’ he says.
I ask, which areas look attractive?
‘We strongly believe in thematic investing, exploiting trends which we think will occur independent of swings in market sentiment. For example, we have a big position in a specialised mandate with Polar Capital in a healthcare fund. We’re confident that with a globally ageing population, there will be a structural long-term demand for healthcare.’
Conversation moves to other thematic areas, including robotics and innovation, infrastructure and Asian consumption. As a forward thinking firm with £3 billion in assets under management and a concentrated buy list, I note that the team must be in high demand from fund managers.
Adams agrees, saying they try to remain open minded about new strategies. The flatbreads finally find their way to us and we polish them off, joking about some pretty esoteric strategies they have been approached by in the past. For Adams, however, this is the highlight of his job.
‘It’s great speaking to fund managers. In fact it’s by far the best part of my job – speaking to people with expertise in their respective field. You cannot help but learn from that.’
Glass half full:
'Strong economic data and global synchronised growth, robust corporate earnings. Fiscal policy remains accommodative and broadly business friendly, while volatility remains subdued.’
Glass half empty:
‘Household, government and corporate debt is at a record levels, geopolitical tensions remain elevated, while valuations are high versus history and investor sentiment is flashing dangerous levels of extreme optimism.’
Contact Eleanor on email@example.com if you fancy showing us your favourite lunch spot - pub or otherwise!