16 OCT, 2023
By Constanza Ramos
Mark is the Chief Investment Officer for BlueBay fixed income at RBC BlueBay Asset Management. He has over 29 years of investment experience as a macro-fixed-income investor and has been a senior BlueBay portfolio manager since he joined in August 2010. As a macro risk taker, Mark actively pursues an open dialogue with policymakers and opinion formers, believing that proprietary research is key to gaining insights to generate strong investment returns. Prior to joining the firm, Mark was Head of Fixed Income in Europe for Deutsche Asset Management, a role he previously occupied at Invesco. He started his career as a fixed-income portfolio manager at Morgan Grenfell in 1993 and holds a BSc (Hons) in Economics from the University of Warwick.
What made you decide to go into the financial sector? Did you have any other vocations?
I got interested in the financial sector as a boy delivering newspapers. I was interested in reading the newspapers and wanted to know what made prices move up and down. This led to an interest in economics and a career in financial markets.
How should investors orient their portfolios in this environment?
Investors should always balance potential return versus risk. They should also maintain a diversified portfolio. What dictates portfolio orientation depends on what objectives and time horizon you are trying to fulfill. As an investor, you are trying to identify good assets at cheap valuations. Try to avoid getting sucked into the latest fashion and bear in mind that investing successfully is a marathon - it is not about trying to get rich quickly. All of this said there are thematic areas that may look cheap or expensive at any given time. European banks in both equity and credit appear cheap at present. We are also at a point in the cycle where we think distressed credit strategies look like an interesting area of opportunity.
What can your funds contribute that others cannot in the current market conditions?
The funds we manage have delivered robust performance in changing market conditions. We also think that laying out a clear product design with a transparent objective and managing consistently with this set is a robust place to deliver. We have a team of 135 investment professionals focused on all the different opportunities across global fixed-income and credit markets, all as part of one investment team with one process. Essentially, I like to think of us as a large professional sports team like a football team covering different positions on the pitch. In this sense, we have attracted and retained strong investment talent, and this has been at the heart of our success.
What criteria does a holding have to meet to be part of your portfolio?
We identify holdings that we believe will deliver alpha into our portfolios. All assets embed an exposure to a source of alpha that we have identified we want to own and whose price we will identify a pricing target we anticipate we will be able to achieve. Holdings are also screened in terms of their risk and ESG characteristics in order to ensure we build portfolios to deliver the outcomes we are hoping to achieve in our product designs.
What do you think can make a difference in fund management in the current scenario?
For investors to outperform the market on an ongoing basis, they need to demonstrate an investment edge. For us this is based on proprietary investment research by experienced specialists focused on an area of expertise. As an example, as a macro investor, I have sought to identify investment opportunities related to volatility stemming from developments in politics and policy. Meeting with policymakers can help develop insight and understanding, which one can contrast with what is discounted in more general market thinking.
What funds are you currently managing, and what is the total volume of assets under management?
As CIO of BlueBay fixed income at RBC BlueBay, I am overseeing an investment team managing $115bn in assets in many fixed-income strategies from benchmark-related products to hedge funds. I also remain a named manager on BlueBay government, aggregate, and absolute return strategies as well as our Macro and Multi-Strategy hedge funds. In total, these compose approximately $25 billion, of these $115 bn of BlueBay assets.
What is your favorite thing to do in your free time?
I am a passionate Chelsea fan (sorry) and enjoy playing golf. I love to travel and am active in the church as well as several charities in the developing world. Giving is always more important than receiving and for those of us privileged to have had some success in life, it is important to give back.