Wells Gibson’s systematic, evidence-based approach to investing often results in very little activity in our clients’ portfolios. However, it would be wrong to think that this is the result of a ‘set-and-forget’strategy and the Wells Gibson Investment Committee would refute such a suggestion. Considerable effort goes on behind the scenes to allow this state of calm consistency to exist. The fortitude and discipline to deliver ‘not much needs to be done to your portfolio except for rebalancing’advice, comes from a rigorous process of ongoing challenge to the status quo.
The broad terms of reference of the Wells Gibson Investment Committee are set out below:
Manage risks over time
- The Wells Gibson Investment Committee is responsible for the oversight of the risk in portfolios and the wider investment process.Meetings are regular and minutes are taken, which include all action points to be followed up on. Third-party inputs and guest members – such as Albion Strategic Consulting – provide independent insight and challenge.
Challenge the process
- The investment process at Wells Gibson is driven by the latest empirical evidence and theory available. It is always open to challenge. If new evidence suggests that doing things differently would be in our clients’ best interests, then we will revise our approach. The investment process is evolutionary, but change is most likely to be slow and incremental.
Review the portfolio structure
- The underlying characteristics of Wells Gibson’s client portfolios are reviewed, including performance and risk level attributes. Risks (asset class exposures) and their allocations within a portfolio are evaluated. Any issues are raised and resolved. Existing asset classes are reviewed alongside asset classes and risk factors that currently sit outside the portfolios. Areas of interest are placed on a longer-term ‘watch’ list.
Review the current ‘best-in-class’ investment funds
- The current funds are ‘best-in-class’ choices seeking to deliver the returns due to investors for taking specific market risks.Each fund has a role to play in a portfolio and its ability to deliver against this objective is regularly reviewed. Any fund-related issues are raised and resolved.
Screen for new funds and undertake appropriate due diligence
- Although the current funds were recommended as ‘best-in-class’, new funds are regularly being launched. Tough screening criteria are in place against which new funds are judged. New, potential ‘best-in-class’ funds face detailed due diligence and approval. They are included only when they make the grade. Given the quality of the funds already in portfolios, the threshold for replacement is high, but not impossible for newer funds.
Reaffirm or revise the investment process
- The Wells Gibson Investment Committee is accountable for reaffirming or revising the structure of client portfolios. Risk (asset) allocations and fund changes are approved by the Investment Committee.Any actions arising from portfolio revisions will be undertaken, after discussion with and agreement by clients.
The next time you open your latest valuation report, remember that despite the lack of activity on the surface, the Wells Gibson Investment Committee continues to paddle furiously behind the scenes to allow this be the case.
In the immortal words of the investment legend and author Charles Ellis, “In investing, activity is almost always in surplus.” However, perhaps we should amend this slightly to, “In investing, activity is – except for the Investment Committee – almost always in surplus.’