Anu Narula is the Head of Global Equities at Mirabaud Asset Management, having joined the business in 2013. He began his career running global equity portfolios at Axa Framlington in 2021. Anu holds an Economics Degree (LSE) and MBA from London Business School and is a CFA Charterholder.
What made you decide to go into the financial sector? Did you have any other vocations?
My attraction to the financial sector was rooted in the objectivity of the industry – it is a job where ultimately, the numbers do the talking. As a cricket fan, I think of it in terms of putting the numbers on the board; if you deliver, your performance speaks for itself. To continue the cricket analogy, the performance data creates a level playing field; it doesn’t matter what background you’re from or what school you went to, if you deliver the numbers, you win.
How should investors orient their portfolios in this environment?
I would always advise investors to seek out high-conviction, responsible and active strategies in any environment. Those with a keen eye for ESG criteria should also look out for Article 8+ funds.
We invest thematically for the long term and seek out stocks we can hold through any environment, which we expect to compound faster than the market over the long term. We think of it as owning, not renting, our portfolio holdings.
We find these stocks through deep research into investment themes, such as health and well-being. For example, we all know obesity is on the rise, and companies such as Novo Nordisk and Eli Lily have developed obesity drugs that can quantify weight reduction. Finding that tailwind to make stocks compound faster than the market over the long term is key to growth.
How is the relationship with your clients in times of market crisis? How do you manage emotions?
At Mirabaud Asset Management, we identify as a boutique and work closely with our clients. As fund managers, we want to be as accessible and transparent as possible, which is particularly important during periods of market turbulence. We meet clients to address questions and concerns through good times and bad and avoid having layers of product specialists sitting between fund managers and clients. This has allowed us to foster those close client relationships.
Our key messaging through all market cycles remains the same – we invest in quality businesses for the long term.
Could you give us an example of a fund that you have held for a long time in your portfolios and why
A good example of our thematic approach would be Ulta Beauty, which we first bought in 2016. Ulta is the biggest omnichannel beauty seller in the US. It has physical stores plus e-commerce and sells cosmetics, skincare, fragrances, nail products, bath and body products, and hair care. Ulta sells all of the top beauty brands and has around 36 million loyal customers. 99% of its shoppers are loyal shoppers, with over 50% of those being Millennials. The ‘Millennial consumers’ is one of our key themes and Millennials index very closely to beauty, with strong trends in haircare, skincare, and makeup post-Covid. Ulta has a tremendous base with scale, as well as plans for acceleration and innovation with Millennial consumers.
What differences do you observe in the way new generations invest?
The primary evolution is that younger generations care a lot more about sustainability and are highly engaged with the core values of the brands they use. They expect a high degree of transparency and accountability, which is why companies like Ulta, which understand this demographic, should thrive. They understand that to engage with new generations, transparency on ingredients and sourcing is a necessity. We are now seeing the big hitters in this industry, such as Estee Lauder and L’Oreal, investing more and more in this space.
If you had to define yourself with 3 words, what would it be and why?
Honesty, integrity, and resilience. Having had the wisdom of experience and seen many market cycles, it is vital to be able to take the pain in the bad times without losing conviction, then bounce back without succumbing to style drift.
What is your favorite thing to do in your free time?
Having two sons, I spend much of my time on a sports pitch of some sort! The sport of all kinds is a great analogy – keep your hard work, process, and technique consistent, and the results will speak for themselves.