When and how did you start your career in the financial industry? Was a role in the investment funds industry always attractive to you?
I started my career at university, then I joined the M&A team at Telecom Italia where I managed the risk analysis at the corporate level. During this experience, interacting with investors, I had the opportunity to enter the world of asset management. It was 1999, I had a macroeconomic background, but also a great curiosity and a desire to take on new challenges. Making this transition, I discovered a passion for the markets and for a profession in which you learn every day. That is when my journey in the industry began, taking me from research to fund management to managerial roles.
What is the most exciting thing you have seen in the markets over your years of experience? And the least?
There have been 3 major crises in the last 15 years that have turned the way we think about investing upside down. As a fund manager you have to be able to deal with these situations with a great spirit of adaptation: if I operated in the market today as I did 15 years ago, I would be out of the game. This job is a constant school of survival, where the intellectual stress is very strong. If you live it in a positive way, however, it can become your gasoline, your adrenaline, to which you have to add the ability to manage emotion and mix it with competence and experience, which are essential to achieve certain results. In all situations what drives you is curiosity, because you must like discovering new things, “connecting the dots” and hypothesizing scenarios, and then selecting and analyzing individual investment cases. That’s why the thing least exciting thing I saw happening instead was the flattening of the industry, related to the spread of the passive approach.
What key principles drive your investment process and why?
They are those at the heart of Plenisfer, which was founded to promote a different investment approach. This project immediately convinced me to join the boutique team from the company’s inception, leaving an international group. At Plenisfer we actively manage multi-asset funds to achive clear return and risk objectives, not to beat a benchmark, in the belief that we must return to the roots of the profession by recovering the freedom of choice that exists only outside the basket of securities that an index represents. We have therefore built an investment process that brings together the different skills of the whole team around the same table and allows us to integrate top down analysis with bottom up analysis and to analyze the entire capital structure of each investment idea.
How are you adapting your portfolio to the current situation of the markets?
At the moment we are focusing on those companies that we think will be able to pass on rising production costs to consumer prices, thus defending margins. We will also continue to favor exposure in real assets”because of their natural ability to protect against inflation. So we have an important position in real assets, commodities, precious metals, all sectors that traditionally had a very small weight in portfolios and a mix that is not found in a market index. We are seeing a complex transition, there is no quick and painless solution to find the new status quo. Our ambition is to ride long-term, counter-cyclical trends, such as the energy transition and the digital transition: we look for solid companies that are convincingly positioned within these themes and, more importantly, that have valuations that do not yet reflect that positioning.
How would you describe yourself in 3 words?
Passionate, curious, determined.
Would you give any advice to anyone wanting to start a career in the asset management industry?
My advice is to challenge yourself with your curiosity. Today those in the industry have a vast amount of information at their disposal that was unimaginable when I started my career. The flow of information is so wide, that the challenge is to select what is really needed and at the same time what should be disregarded. If a person has a real passion for this work, he or she must challenge himself or herself and, above all, must understand whether he or she has the ability to make a critical analysis of events and situations.