Could you describe your role/specialisms?

I am the Chief Investment Officer at Newscape Capital Group and work closely with James Hutson, Head of Portfolio Construction and Fahad Hassan, Senior Fund Manager, two excellent investors across the Managed Portfolio and Emerging Market & Equity sectors. We are also lucky to have an excellent support team.

My specialisms are asset allocation with stock selection, but I have also been a long term commentator on gold and alternative assets and over the last few years I have added my fascination with digital assets including blockchain and cryptocurrencies to this.

I am constantly excited by how society and markets are changing and developing and how we can invest in the opportunities created.

Could you explain your background?

Prior to Newscape, I spent 17 years at HSBC Global Asset Management as the Head of Absolute Return. At HSBC I managed a multi-asset fund range with assets more than US$3 billion. Prior to fund management, I served as an officer in the British Army in the Grenadier Guards.

How has your previous roles within asset management and as an analyst aided your expertise in your current role?

I am now applying everything I have learnt from my past experiences, my successes and mistakes as analyst and fund manager at James Capel and then HSBC Global Asset Management. I can also look back to my time in the British Army and my eclectic, peripatetic younger life, where I gained my passion for politics and economics. I find markets utterly absorbing and gratifyingly challenging. The fund management team, Fahad, James and I have the freedom at Newscape to invest our clients’ assets in the way that our collective experience has taught us. That said, do you ever stop learning? I can guarantee that there will be many more experiences to come to aid me in my role.

For example, aside from how much asset allocation can change, is my particular fascinations in gold and digital assets such as crypto-currencies. I truly believe this is the rarest of things – the creation of a new asset class and I find this both fascinating and exciting.

Who are your clients (in general)?

Our clients are as diversified as their business streams. We are fortunate to work with financial intermediaries in the UK and internationally, pension funds, professional families, trusts and fiduciaries, institutions and even a sovereign wealth fund.

Have the services provided by Newscape changed since its launch in 2008?

In the early years, Newscape focused on a captive client bank and has since opened up to a wider client audience with new products and services having undergone a significant strategic review over the last couple of years. These include our fund hosting services, where asset managers or distributors launch their own UCITS fund on our platform, and outsourcing of portfolio management via the range of risk managed products led by James Hutson. In addition to the investment management services, we have also developed a Capital Markets desk including emerging market fixed income advisory.

How has Newscape established itself as a specialist fund house?

Through careful and thoughtful consideration, we have developed our asset management proposition to deliver customers’ desired investment outcomes. We have brought highly experienced people to the table who have many years of portfolio structuring, risk management and Emerging Market expertise. We also work closely with valued external partners and advisers for bond trading and property investment. Newscape has an innovative approach to participating in intriguing and exciting areas such as cryptocurrencies, robotics and other emerging themes.

Have you launched any new multi-asset funds?

As a team, we have entirely revamped and re-purposed our Managed Portfolio offering and my own Diversified Growth Fund; both of which already existed before we joined. We have introduced tighter risk controls, more efficient and timely investment decisions and a focus on implementing our common and consistent investment approach.

What is your firm’s main investment strategy?

Both the Newscape Diversified Growth and the Emerging Market Equity funds are managed using “The 5 Styles Approach” – a strategy I developed based on my 13 years of investment management experience at HSBC.

This approach takes a non-traditional view of asset classes (Bonds, equities etc.) and groups them together based on their investment characteristics. We believe that this approach provides a framework that allows both funds the potential to deliver improved risk adjusted returns over time.

Newscape previously launched a managed portfolio service in 2009, aimed at the intermediary market, could you explain its aims, and whether it is still in effect today?

Newscape was established in 2008. The Newscape Model Portfolio Service was launched in 2009. The proposition has been improved and developed over the years, more recently under the management of James Hutson, who joined in early 2016. The service also has a big brother which is bespoke Portfolio Construction for professional families and institutions.

Does your firm still plan to use the its model portfolio services for wealth managers and corporate pensions? Are there any plans for expansion?

We are marketing our MPS to IFAs, Pension Consultants and Wealth Managers. We are also offering our MPS to Advisors who are running portfolios but who are finding that the current regulatory environment is making this more difficult.

We are in discussion with a number of groups regarding joint venture propositions and even possible acquisition strategies. I believe we are well positioned to grow our business, whilst still focusing upon delivering the risk-based outcomes that our clients have come to expect of us.

How else does your discretionary portfolio management service for clients differ from other wealth managers?

We typically run five risk-rated strategies from Defensive to Growth are available in portfolios of actively managed and also passive constituents, or as a blend of the two. We don’t believe in Active or Passive per se, we believe in choice and timing, which also give rise to choice of costs. In addition, we run an income focused portfolio available as a Balanced profile.

Our Portfolio Construction solution is a bespoke and highly process driven institutional version of the MPS factoring in a multitude of constant and variable factors.

Charlie Morris Q&A