Changes in markets have disrupted traditional investment models ever since the global financial crisis nearly a decade ago. Geopolitical events in particular have continued to test investors who want to outperform a benchmark.
It is a challenge that the fixed income and credit teams at Carmignac know only too well, having launched the Carmignac Portfolio Global Bond fund in December 2007. The Carmignac Portfolio Global Bond fund is completely unconstrained in its nature. With no regional or benchmark restrictions, it invests worldwide in government, corporate and emerging market bonds as well as currencies.
Zerah also has considerable leeway to adjust the fund's modified duration - including to negative levels - and invest up to a percentage of the fund in distressed assets, convertibles and credit derivatives too.
Carmignac is recognised for its top-down knowhow, which is the foundation of its investment style for this fund as well. The strategy starts with macro analysis and the entire management team, including CIO Edouard Carmignac, gathering
each morning to debate, discuss, and establish their market views.
"We analyse a range of global macro scenarios on a quarterly basis but we also have a lot of daily input from the team and our CIO. This helps shape our convictions about where we invest and how we react to market changes" explains Zerah.
"We also use a bottom-up approach that enables us to look for alpha generating strategies specifically. Our team of analysts is composed of asset class or strategy specialists that provide strong expertise in their field and a 360 degree view of the opportunities in the fixed income universe. The team strive to opportunistically identify broken asset classes and inefficiencies in the market to seize trends and boost performance.
As such, we have a lot of interaction between bond and equity managers at Carmignac, which is very different to how our peers invest." This cross-sector and holistic analysis approach, alongside the fund's flexible investment philosophy, aims to achieve a return higher than the JPM GBI Global index across a minimum two-year horizon. So far, the fund has achieved this.
It returned 31.3% over a five-year period versus 19.4% for the benchmark and 21.6% against the Morningstar Global Bond peer category.*
A team of 11 assist Zerah on the Carmignac Portfolio Global Bond fund, including the group's head of fixed income, Rose Ouahba, and head of credit Pierre Verle. Together the management team prioritises risk above anything else. The fund currently sits at a risk level four out of seven, with 50% of its assets rated as AAA.
Head of fixed income Rose Ouahba explains: "We try to avoid risk; whether it is in reference to Brexit or global elections we will try to reduce it in our portfolio as much as possible before utilising our investment toolbox to achieve our return objective. We are quite different from our peers because while they may have a mandate to beat the benchmark, we instead look to actively manage the risk profile of the fund."
There are three primary drivers the fund manager uses to enhance performance within this fund: interest rates, currencies and credit spreads.
Zerah has the ability to hedge against rate risk, credit risk and currency risk. He explains: "Take interest rate risk, for example. We are very flexible and have the ability to turn negative on modified duration (anywhere between -4 and 10), something that since I have been managing the fund I have used extensively. Today we are close to zero modified duration in the fund as we hedge against rate rises globally."
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