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Interview: James Millard – 1825 Portfolio Manager

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James Millard is next in our series of illuminating personal interviews with investment managers. Alongside Matthew Webber, James is co-portfolio manager of the 1825 risk-targeted portfolios and is part of the award-winning Fund Solutions team at Standard Life Investments. James shares his personal investment experiences as well as valuable words of wisdom for today’s investor.

 

What do you enjoy most about working on the portfolios?

We invest across a large number of asset classes and financial markets change every day, so there are always fresh challenges providing us with a great degree of variety. We’re constantly thinking about how best to set up the portfolios to navigate the markets ahead and how to deliver the most rewarding long-term outcomes for our clients.

We also spend a lot of our time trying to identify leading specialist investment managers in their respective asset classes to populate the portfolios with their funds. As such, we’re also lucky to work with some of the best investors around the globe.

 

You can hear more from James about the strategy behind the 1825 portfolios in this video.

 

What’s the best piece of advice that you’ve received?

My first boss in my investing career was a deep value investor with a very long-term approach. One nugget of advice, among many, was that there’s nothing as perishable as a great investment idea.  Great ideas – that are truly different to those of the market – don’t come along that often, so you should take your analysis to a swift conclusion and take action. More generally, his wisdom and advice has been very valuable to me; he was a true contrarian and always calm in the face of market ‘noise’.

Which investment decision are you most proud of?

My best personal investment decision was to sell my first home in London, after London property prices had risen a lot. I used the gains to buy my first house on the south coast of England. We still live close to the sea and, in our spare time, we spend a lot of time sailing and windsurfing.

 

Do you have any investment regrets?

I try not to regret poor outcomes from investment decisions, as investing does involve taking risk and, naturally, occasionally some outcomes will be poor. The key is to get more decisions right than wrong over the long term, while knowing that you’ve followed a robust process in making your decisions – and by learning from your mistakes.

From a personal perspective, my worst decision was actually to do with the timing of my best decision; I got out of the London property market far too early. Prices then rose by much further than I expected! Focusing soley on the numbers it probably wasn’t the best possible outcome, but looking at the big picture, it did help me achieve my goal at the time and means that we now live by the seaside…

 

What do you see as the biggest challenges for investors over the next few years?

We live in a world where extraordinary monetary support from central banks has pushed valuations of many major asset classes to increasingly high levels, which will depress the likely returns relative to recent history. I also think that volatility is likely to increase as monetary policy support is gradually withdrawn. Navigating these choppy waters will be important. If we can smooth the journey for clients we can hopefully help them remain invested for the long term.

 

What do you see as the biggest opportunities for investors over the next few years?

There may not appear to be many glaringly obvious investment opportunities at present in most asset classes. However, we’re likely to see increasing volatility in asset prices. This should present interesting opportunities for those who can identify them. As managers of well-diversified multi-asset portfolios, we should be able to take advantage of such market dynamics.

 

If you were giving a family member one piece of investment advice, what would it be?

Start investing early and stay invested for the long term. Don’t look at returns too frequently, as this helps you avoid worrying about short-term market movements, and resist bailing out when markets are tough.

This means you should benefit from returns (or interest) not only on the amount you first invested, but on the interest on the interest. Otherwise known as compound interest; this is one of the only ‘free lunches’ in investing. As Albert Einstein is rumoured to have said, “Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world… the most powerful force in the universe… the greatest mathematical discovery of all time”.

Outside investments, what would be your dream job?

We moved to the seaside in part because my wife and I had taken up sailing. However, we started far too late in life to become really good sailors.  Some professional sailors are lucky enough to be paid to compete in sailing in races in exotic locations around the world on some of the world’s best yachts. That would be an awesome way to spend my working day!

 

If you missed the earlier interviews in this series you can hear from Neil Woodford, Head of Investment at Woodford Investment Management, Richard Buxton, Chief Executive Officer at Old Mutual Global Investors, and Andrew Milligan, Head of Global Strategy at Standard Life Investments.

 

This blog and any responses to comments should not be regarded as financial advice.

Content in this section is provided by James Millard, Standard Life Investments. It does not constitute any financial or other professional advice or recommendations.

 

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