For a sector permanently striving to be more accessible to private investors, thematics would seem an obvious point of entry – and yet, for significant periods of the 21st century, asset management has apparently been content to turn a blind eye. Not so Sarasin & Partners, however, which has assiduously maintained its focus on global thematic investing since it began life as Sarasin Investment Management 40 years ago.
Guided by “the structural forces that drive global change”, the business has identified what it sees as five ‘megatrends’ that will play the most significant role in shaping the future and which, by extension, should offer up profitable long-term investment opportunities – ageing, automation, climate change, digitalisation and evolving consumption.
Each of those ought to strike some chord with any informed private investor, so why does the wider world of asset management often seem to go quiet on thematics? “For a long time, professional investors only wanted regional or sectoral options,” suggests Guy
Matthews, who joined Sarasin & Partners from Smith & Williamson in 1990, becoming the firm’s chief operating officer in 2010 and managing partner in 2016.
“In-house asset allocation was often held out as a value-add element to their service but then, around the credit crisis, we saw a huge expansion in institutions allocating to global managers – and of course, because it is not limited by regional considerations, thematic is a subset of that. Obviously, as global investors, we are aware of country and regional allocations from a risk perspective but that does not drive our investment thesis.”
To read more, visit the September edition of Portfolio Adviser Magazine