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5 Minutes With: Unigestion’s Olivier Marciot

 

Olivier Marciot, based in Geneva, joined Unigestion in 2006 and now runs the Uni-Global Cross Asset Navigator fund with three other managers. He says having his first child when he was just 20 years old, while he was studying for a degree in economics and finance taught him a lot of “rigour and humility”.

The fund has more than doubled in size over the past 18 months to $360 million and is up 9.5% year to date. With a focus on capital protection, the largest holding is US two-year notes, which account for 31%.

What does the fund do?

As the name suggests, it "navigates" different market conditions. We invest in a very flexible and dynamic way, both in traditional and alternative assets. However, it has a defensive tilt and is biased towards capital protection. 

Which holdings in the portfolio are you currently excited about?

There is a bit of the portfolio called “opportunistic”, in which we identify opportunities outside of our core investment universe. We feel there is a big window of opportunity investing in dividends rather than the more traditional segment of the equity market. There is way too much pessimism in the dividend story right now, and a repricing will offer good returns in an environment where most asset classes are expensive.

What's your ever worst investment?

We do asset allocation, not bond- or stock-picking particularly but we have been underweight to government bonds for way too long over the latest years. It's taught me two very important lessons though: never stay short for too long, and tackle markets with a pragmatic rather than normative stance.

And the best?

I invested in Brazilian bonds a few years ago. There was a complete mismatch between price and sentiment – the bonds paid around 12% plus the currency was absolutely battered, which further boosted returns.

If you weren’t covering this asset class, which one would you like to cover?

Private equity is the only asset class I am not covering at the moment. I would be excited getting my hands on a company, revamping it, improving it and changing it for the better. 

Who has influenced your day job recently?

The whole team I work with, a team of six – it has made me way better than I was a few years ago. We challenge each other regularly and built a common philosophy that we use to  invest.

Why work in a team-based approach?

I find value in diversification, not only on an asset class level but also in human beings. We all have different backgrounds and very different experiences, and the way we manage to combine them in a really democratic and open-minded way is just beautiful.

And if you weren’t a fund manager…

I would be a photographer. I am not sure I would be courageous enough to do it for the long term but I would like to cover wars.

Why did you become a fund manager?

Apart from money? For me it's a matter of being capable of analysing and manipulating complex matters. I like the process that is behind a good or bad investment decision.

Which two guests, dead or alive, would you invite to a dinner party?

A famous war photographer called Don McCullin, I have a strong admiration for him, for his courage and the fact he showed the world what it didn’t want to see.

And John Kennedy. The way he ran the US back in the day was innovative; he provided a real breakthrough in terms of tackling racism and fostering feminism. He was a great man and I'm pretty sure it would be great to have him at a dinner party to discuss those things.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I like spending time with family and friends, but whenever there is time left I like to take my own photos and paragliding.