John Dodd was a founding partner in Artemis Investment Management. He has focused on growth-oriented smaller companies for about 10 years but has recently taken his expertise in the energy sector to market with a new fund. Dodd’s interests vary widely but he spends much of his free time in the Scottish Highlands.
1. What is the investment decision you are most proud of making over the past decade?
Investing in Artemis. Four of us started it from scratch in 1997. We’ve never looked back; and are still very much looking forwards.
2. And which was the worst clanger and what did you learn from it?
Handmade Films: a complete disaster. What I learned is to trust my instincts – rather than the honeyed words of a firm’s (often self-interested and occasionally deluded) management.
3. What is your most crucial principle of successful investing?
Reasoned judgement. You must absorb and analyse all relevant information. But in the end, it’s up to your judgement.
4. When you think about the past decade, what were the most formative events for you?
Being involved in investment management through a period of exceptional growth – despite overall flat markets at best. It’s been fascinating – and formative. Someone once said “I grow older learning new things every day.” That will do for me.
5. You had to cope with the credit crunch in this decade so have proven an ability to deal with the good times and the bad. What’s the key to weathering a really tough market period?
Adapt and learn. Always question your most treasured assumptions.
6. How do you believe the investment world has changed over the past decade?
Available information and access to it have grown exponentially. That can actually make a fund manager’s job harder. Sift and screen – and do it again; and again …
7. When you look ahead, what is the most exciting investment opportunity you see?
The global energy sector. Growth in demand for energy is secular, not cyclical. And the sector contains all the best – and some of the worst – of both the old and the new.
8. What is the greatest risk you perceive to your portfolio in the months and years ahead?
A collapse in the oil price to below $40. I don’t think that will happen, and for everyone’s sakes I hope it won’t. But if it does …
9. If you could change one thing about the City, what would it be?
I would remove the conflict of interest between investment banks and proprietary trading. I would re-instate and re-affirm the less compromised relationship between agent and client.
10. If you could give one tip to young fund managers hoping to emulate your success, what would it be?
We each have two ears and one mouth – for a reason. Learn as much as you can from those around you, and in time develop you own thinking. As the Bard has it, “to thine own self be true.” That didn’t do Polonius much good, admittedly. But it’s worked for me.