(Pictured above: Silver (far left), Newton (middle left), Katie (middle right) and Eleanor (far right))
‘Beef for the lads!’
It’s not every week you get to start a Pub Club off with this opener, which comes straight from the mouth of our lovely waitress at The Volunteer Pub in Marylebone, writes Katie Gilfillan.
The ‘lads’ are our guests today – Rupert Silver and Ben Newton from Marylebone-based Credo Wealth. Still merry from Christmas spirit, we all repeat, ‘Beef for the lads!’
Just to clarify, not everyone in this pub was going crazy shouting about beef. Both Silver and Newton had, in fact, just ordered salt beef sandwiches for lunch. It seems Eleanor Mahmoud and I did not get the memo, as we ordered sausage and mash, and a cheese and bacon burger, respectively. After all, this was the season for all things hot and delicious.
It also seems that the Credo team have been busy. Although the firm’s roots are in South African and international markets, the London team now make all the investment decisions, and UK assets make up the largest part of the wider group.
Silver and Newton both forged excellent paths in the industry before transferring their years of experience to Credo. Silver, director and co-fund manager, starts tucking into his sandwich while he describes his career.
‘I started my career at Brewin Dolphin in my home town of Newcastle. I love Newcastle and still visit regularly, but from a young age I was keen to get to the Big Smoke. I joined Credo during its infancy, and have remained for the last 20 years.’
Now celebrating its 20th birthday, Silver explains how Credo started.
‘Credo had very humble beginnings. We started in a small office in the West End above an HSBC branch with only £60 million of assets under management (AUM) to our name.’
To some, this amount is far from humble, but, considering the company now boasts £1 billion in AUM and 90 members of staff, it has definitely come a long way from when it started.
Despite working closely together, Silver and Newton’s routes into the firm are quite different. After completing Barclays’ graduate scheme, portfolio manager and co-fund manager Newton moved to Credo four years ago.
‘I left [Barclays] because I wanted to start making my own investment decisions,’ Newton explains. ‘Credo has a very collaborative feel, and I enjoy being able to significantly contribute.’
Silver, agreeing wholeheartedly, jumps in: ‘Investing with such a flexible mandate is very exciting – the options are virtually limitless. Whatever the market backdrop, there are always opportunities to be found somewhere or somehow.’
As we continue through political uncertainty and a mature bull market, it is indeed quite the backdrop. Having the freedom of a flexible mandate, now is as good a time as any to see what potential opportunities there are.
Newton corroborates this: ‘With all the political noise about, it’s quite hard to buy at the moment. Opportunities we would usually be pouncing on we have to think twice about due to all the uncertainty.’
‘In my opinion, it’s been the most challenging year since the credit crunch,’ Silver adds.
However, that is not to say that in times of turmoil there are not plenty of opportunities.
He reflects on 2008 as an example: ‘Crisis can create a once in a generation opportunity, and when you see them, you have to grab them. We really saw this in the credit crunch, when we took a heavy overweight position in financial debt at what turned out to be fairly insane yields, and still retain this position to a lesser degree 10 years on.’
As Newton and Silver are co-managers of the Credo Dynamic fund, I am curious about how they have changed its positioning in regards to the current climate.
‘Over the past six months, Dynamic has reduced its UK exposure, mindful of Brexit-related uncertainty,’ Newton says. ‘We’ve been acting quite defensively on the whole, but recognise uncertainty creates opportunity, so we always retain a degree of optimism.’
Glass Half Full
‘Valuations in general are becoming much more appealing. Uncertainty creates opportunity.’
Glass half Empty
‘Brexit uncertainty. It’s hard to make long-term decisions without more clarity.’