2019 has been a successful year for investors by all accounts. As of the end of November, the Toronto Stock Exchange is up 22.28%, S&P 500 Index up 27.63% and Financial Times Stock Exchange Canada Universe Overall Bond Index is up 7.79%. This is an arbitrary end point, as there was tremendous trepidation at the end of 2018, where we saw markets correct by more than 15%1 in December 2018, which gave Cambridge a great opportunity to put capital to work for clients. For Cambridge, 2019 represented a year of growth and evolution towards our goal of adding value to clients through investment excellence and improved client service.
Our team accomplished important milestones during 2019. While we continue to grow and support our clients at home, and currently manage approximately $20 billion2 in assets under management in Canada, we are now very excited to have our first client in Australia through the partnership between CI and Grant Samuel Funds Management.
Our long-term performance demonstrates how we are delivering on our goal of sustainable value to our clients. We celebrated the five-year anniversary of Cambridge Global Smaller Companies Fund and the three-year anniversary of Cambridge Bond Fund; both funds outperformed their index and category as of the date of their anniversary. I am also happy to see that several of our funds continue to be ranked top quartile and rated as four or five-star according to the Morningstar rankings (Morningstar Research 2019). Additionally, I was not surprised that several Cambridge team members won Lipper Awards (Stephen Groff for Cambridge Canadian Dividend Fund (five-year), as well as Bob Swanson and Paul Marcogliese for Cambridge Global High-Income Fund (10-year)).
We also recognized and celebrated the accomplishments of several individual team members. This year, we made the decision to promote Dan Rohinton to Portfolio Manager; he is co-managing Cambridge Global Equity Fund alongside myself. This decision reflects his significant contributions to the investment team throughout his seven years at Cambridge as an equity analyst. Within our fixed- income team, Grant Connor (our Fixed Income Analyst) has also taken on increased responsibilities and has played an important role within the Cambridge Asset Allocation Committee (the committee manages fund strategies through asset mix decisions to maximize opportunity and control risks).
This year, we supported CI in consolidating its fund line-up, making it easier for you to do business with us. And in order to stay relevant, we launched new products, including CI Canadian Dividend Private Pool.
The evolution of the asset management industry continues as passive investments take share from active managers. I now believe this is positive for clients, since all investment firms will need to improve their value proposition for clients in order to compete against index funds that are “free.” To ensure that we remain competitive in this environment, we initiated several important improvements in 2019.
Over the last 18 months we have modernized our investment process to get the most out of our number one tool as investors: our brains. We have automated/outsourced commoditized areas where applicable, in order to free our time for critical thinking and leverage our expertise and talent. To this end, we have introduced new tools to reduce email clutter and share insights and ideas with the team. We are also using a new data visualization tool to analyze and discuss our investment opportunities (we recently shared screenshots of this tool in our blog “Canadian Energy: A Historical Perspective”).
In our pursuit of continuous improvement, we engaged a third party to analyze our portfolio management decisions using data analytics and behavioural science, providing feedback and coaching to our team members. This involves capturing historic trading data, monitoring personal behavioural surveys and other insights and using advanced analytics/artificial intelligence to determine patterns in behaviour, with the objective of uncovering biases to drive better investment outcomes. We introduced this to the portfolio managers in 2019 and have seen clear benefits to clients, as it has triggered a more methodical and objective portfolio review process resulting in reduced turnover. We are excited to roll this out to the analysts in 2020.
From an organizational perspective, we have undergone tremendous growth in 2019. In the past, the Cambridge team was structured around a centralized pool of analysts covering ideas on a global basis. Over the last 18 months, we have made changes to enhance the team structure – we’ve doubled the size of the analyst team and restructured the team for greater focus in the areas we feel we can best add value to our clients: Canada, Global Large Cap, Global Small Cap and Fixed Income. Each team will tackle the unique challenges of delivering investment excellence within their opportunity set. Our cross-team coverage model, thesis reviews and industry teach-ins ensure continued collaboration across the team.
A benefit of this realignment has been to increase our capacity for analyst coverage. Four of the six new hires this year were allotted to growing the team of equity analysts. In March, Oliver Shao relocated to Toronto from Calgary to join us. Lucas Michael (October 2019), Arthur Phillips (November 2019) and Leon Xu (November 2019) all recently joined our team, and we are excited to have them on board.
Unfortunately, we also had a departure this year. Charles Morrison, who started in early 2019, left in June after deciding to join a mentor of his, investing in a way we don’t offer at Cambridge. Charlie was an excellent team member: hardworking, funny, inquisitive and without ego. We will miss his contributions to the team but are happy he is able to follow a dream he has had for a while. In the meantime, we are currently in the process of interviewing for his replacement.
We are also in the process of building out Cambridge’s fixed- income capabilities to assist Paul Marcogliese (Fixed Income Portfolio Manager). The team is currently in the process of interviewing for a credit analyst who will join in early 2020.
In continuing to improve our value proposition to clients in the changing landscape, I believe another important aspect is how we service and support our clients. This year, we made a strategic move by hiring Sonia Mahadeo as the Director, Investment Communications. Sonia brings a tremendous amount of experience in strategic marketing, communications and stakeholder engagement within the investment industry. Her expertise has enhanced the experience we provide to our clients. I believe our clients deserve to understand why we make the decisions we do in our funds, so they remain comfortable participating in the value creation our investment process delivers. Sonia will play a pivotal role in 2020 as we extend our communications to add transparency to our stakeholders. We are very happy to have her on board to help us execute on this goal.
I feel it necessary to acknowledge the contributions of our Office Manager, Diane Burke. For many years, Diane has been the glue that holds Cambridge together and has taken on a lot to enable our growth plan. Thank you, Diane, for your hard work and commitment to our team and our clients. This year, as the team continued to grow, so did the need to support them. In August, Amanda Ho joined Cambridge as an Administrative Assistant and has nicely complemented Diane’s support since joining.
Our ongoing success is only possible thanks to the commitment and enthusiasm of the Cambridge team. Their efforts are reflected in the strong growth we deliver to clients and the momentum we are seeing in our transformation. To this end, I wish to express my appreciation to the entire Cambridge team; thank you for so readily and expertly carrying out your responsibilities, while simultaneously supporting the corporate initiatives and for continuously adapting to Cambridge’s evolution.
Of course, none of this would be possible without you, our valued clients and stakeholders. Thank you for your continued support and the trust you put in Cambridge. Your confidence in us has enabled us to build a remarkable company.
I am confident that with the changes we’ve made in 2019, we have never been in a better place to have a positive impact in the lives of our clients’, deliver against the plan that we have set out for ourselves and unlock significant long-term value for all of our stakeholders.
Principal and Chief Investment Officer
- 15% correction is for SPX, TSX corrected approximately 9.75%
- As of March 31, 2019, https://www.ci.com/en/portfolio/cambridge
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Mr. Robert Swanson is associated with CI Global Investments Inc., a firm registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and an affiliate of CI Investments Inc.
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The Lipper Fund Awards, granted annually, are part of the Thomson Reuters Awards for Excellence and highlight funds that have excelled in delivering consistently strong risk-adjusted performance relative to their peers. The Lipper Fund Awards are based on the Lipper Ratings for Consistent Return, which is a risk-adjusted performance measure calculated over 36, 60 and 120-month periods. The highest 20% of funds in each category are named Lipper Leaders for Consistent Return and receive a score of 5, the next 20% receive a score of 4, the middle 20% are scored 3, the next 20% are scored 2 and the lowest 20% are scored 1. The highest Lipper Leader for Consistent Return in each category wins the Lipper Fund Award. Lipper Leader ratings change monthly. For more information, see www.lipperweb.com. Although Lipper makes reasonable efforts to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the data contained herein, the accuracy is not guaranteed by Lipper.
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Published December 16, 2019.