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Fiona MacRae, Alliance Trust

Alliance Trust European Equity Fund given silver grading

S&P Capital IQ Fund Research has assigned a silver grading to the Alliance Trust European Equity Fund.

This fund is managed by a three-strong team that has worked together at Alliance Trust since late 2008.

The team manages just this fund and contributes European stock ideas to the investment trust for which the group is best known.

Fiona MacRae (pictured) heads the team and is the most experienced with 24 years of experience focused on Europe. Athole Skinner has 16 years' experience and Tommy Bryson has eight years’ experience. They also make use of the in-house macro team and the newly assembled global equity sector analyst team. Input is taken from the sell-side and the fixed income team for financials.
Although MacRae and Bryson are ultimately responsible for performance, the team divides sector responsibilities between its members, and there is a large element of debate in the decision-making process, with valuation models circulated among the team and the assumptions discussed. Although Skinner and Bryson are less experienced in terms of how long they have been in the role, they bring a strong focus on numbers to the debate having held a number of analytical roles between them and they have power of veto.
The fund’s objective is to outperform the MSCI Europe ex UK index (in sterling) by two per cent net over the medium term. Idea generation is both bottom-up, drawing on a FactSet valuation screen on index names relative to their sector and the index, and top-down, with the team identifying longer-term themes through an assessment of the macroeconomic environment. This macro view is also crucial when evaluating financial names where the team takes input from the Economics Research Centre, the in-house fixed income team and the sell-side. Excluding financials, the team builds simplified valuation models from scratch, and the portfolio may contain a number of bottom-up ideas, including restructuring stories. The portfolio is relatively focused with 25 to 35 holdings, with no constraints at sector or country level.
“The investment approach is a sensible blend of top-down and bottom-up, while the team appears well-balanced in terms of both experience and approach,” says S&P Capital IQ fund analyst Daniel Vaughan.
“The award of a silver grading is a great accolade, highlighting not only the quality and commitment of the team, but also Alliance Trust Investments’ general reputation as one of the leading boutique investment houses,” says Edward Troughton, managing director of Alliance Trust Investments.

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