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It takes More than Knowledge and Skills to be a Fund Manager

To be a Fund Manager managing billions of investments is no easy feat.  In fact, the odds to become one is almost non-existent for most investment professionals.


Fund Manager

In this article, Fund Manager refers to professional fund managers that aim to create a long-term and sustainable fund management business (that may target at individuals or institutional funds).

There are other types of fund managers such as private fund managers or hedge fund managers that may raise ad-hoc capital for investments according to market opportunities – sometimes short-term.  The funds may be fully redeemed to investors at some point in time.

Besides strong knowledge and skills, what else does it take to become a Fund Manager?


No. 1 Ethics / Integrity

Integrity is one of the most quoted ethics in the first chapter or introduction of most knowledge-based profession such as professors, doctors and lawyers.

Putting billions of dollars in the hands of a Fund Manager isn’t just about generating the highest returns.  What would a one do for money?  What one do for more money?

Merriam Webster

Ethics ~ the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation

Integrity ~ firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values

” CFA Level 1, Chapter 1: Ethics and Standards “

Is the Fund Manager eyeing a huge payout?  Is the Fund Manager using the billions to build a reputation for himself or herself? Will the Fund Manager take on excessive risks?  Will the Fund Manager engage in insider trading?  Will the Fund Manager partake in related transactions?

There is no optimal screening methodology for integrity.  But the first criteria for any institutional investors to begin their due diligence in choosing a Fund Manager is likely to be: Integrity.


No. 2 Credibility

” It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently ”

~ Warren Buffett

Would you entrust your life-savings to a Fund Manager with poor credibility?  What if the Fund Manager can generate 20% returns?  Would you think different? Would you still entrust your money to the Fund Manager?

Not only must the Fund Manager exhibit integrity, he or she has to build up a strong reputation and be credible.


No. 3 Patience

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Global Head of Investments

Patience or boring.  Managing billions of investments is no exciting task.

Once an investment is made, Fund Managers (usually) don’t actively trade in and out of the market.  After all their extensive research, strategies and simulations, they can only “wait” (includes monitoring, analysing new information, making minor adjustments).

And if their fund size run into hundred of billions or trillions, they take on the role of “market-makers” in which any transactions they do may impact market pricing (positively or negatively).


No. 4 Independent

Probably one of the worst job to be – to be a Fund Manager.

Everyday, you will get new corporate announcements, quarterly results, CEOs pitching about their upcoming IPOs, and 3, 5 or 10 years strategy on their businesses.

Countries and respective economic development boards attempting to raise capital investments into their countries, both onto private and public capital markets.  New trends or new strategies. False signal or potential investment opportunities.

Should you be everywhere, anytime?  With so much noise and influences daily, how do you remain independent?


No. 5 Pragmatic

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Financial Analysis

It is an illusion (today) to think the world of investing should be a perfectly “free market.”

As a Fund Manager, investing is more than just returns.  It also means being responsible for balancing economic and social growth.

If producing drugs (marijuana, cocaine), weapons or investing into casinos make tons of money, should Fund Managers swarm into these sectors?

If country A and country B are at loggerheads perpetually, should the Fund Manager use investors fund from country A and invest into country B?  What if country B implement capital control and restrict capital movements or foreign investors’ ownerships.

Fund Managers have to innately protect the interests of their investors (by investor base eg. source of funds, profile of investors).

Between balancing returns and promoting economic growth or social causes, Fund Managers have this non-enviable task.

When Fund Managers get these wrong, investors suffer.  What do you think?  What is most important to you when you allocate your clients’ investments?

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