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Client Wealth: Going, going, gone with the wind | VT Downing Fox Funds Investment Letter

Simon Evan-Cook
Simon Evan-Cook

Fund Manager

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We’re looking at cash again. I know this can be a pain for you when dealing with clients: They’ve had their heads turned by the promise of a 5% volatility-free return and now can’t think of anything else.  

And you know what? That’s annoyed me. It’s unfair on you; their adviser. So you can call the next few minutes therapy if you like, because I’ve put together a few charts and a neat movie-based analogy that add up to a rant about this unhelpful attitude. 

What’s the movie? 

Gone With the Wind. I watched it again recently, and it really reminded me of this client cash-love dynamic. 

If you haven’t seen it, it’s a sprawling epic of a story, centred on Scarlett O’Hara. She’s obsessed with her childhood love, Ashley Wilkes, who is – initially – handsome, wealthy and reliable, but, sadly for her, engaged to someone else.  

She ends up instead with Rhett Butler. He’s wealthy too, but also roguish, volatile, and has a whole George Clooney thing going on.  

It’s clear (to everyone but her) that Rhett’s a better match for Scarlett than Ashley ever was, but she remains obsessed with her first love. This despite building a family with Rhett, and Ashley being broken by the war. This nostalgia-driven obsession means that, at the first sign of Ashley returning her interest, she embraces him, even though he’s a shadow of his former self. 

It’s at this point you want to shake Scarlett by the shoulders and tell her to get a grip. What does she see in him?! 

Only when Rhett finally storms off (with the iconic mic-drop moment: “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn!”) does Scarlett realise she’d been better off with Rhett all along. 

OK, let’s replace those characters with our own versions: So Scarlett O’Hara is now played by your clients; Ashley Wilkes is replaced by cash (“Cashley” from here on in – I thank you), while Rhett Butler can be played by any market-based investment, but for this letter he’s a balanced multi-asset fund (in the ballpark of the classic 60-40 equity-bond split portfolio). 

Here’s the parallel scenario: Many moons ago your clients’ younger selves fell in love with the reliable, money-making Cashley Wilkes. However, at the onset of terrible times (the Global Financial Crisis) they were forced into the arms of a more volatile offering: A multi-asset portfolio, whose price, unlike Cashley’s, roguishly rises and falls with the markets’ mood. And so, as a consequence, does their relationship with it. 

It’s clear to everyone (but your clients) that multi-asset funds have been far better for them than Cashley, yet they remain obsessed with their first love. This despite building some decent returns with multi-asset portfolios over the last 15 years and Cashley being broken by the financial crisis. This nostalgic obsession meant that, at the first sign of him returning their interest in 2023, they embraced Cashley (dumping their multi-asset portfolios as they did so). 

If this description is fair, it’s clear they need a good shoulder shake. What do they see in him?! 

Is it fair though? 

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Written by Simon Evan-Cook, Fund Manager, VT Downing Fox Funds

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Risk warning:

Opinions expressed represent the views of the fund manager at the time of publication, are subject to change, and should not be interpreted as investment advice. Please refer to the latest full Prospectus and KIID before investing available from Downing LLP or from the ACD, Valu-Trac; your attention is drawn to the risk, fees and taxation factors contained therein. Please note that past performance is not a reliable indicator of future results. Capital is at risk. Investments and the income derived from them can fall as well as rise and investors may not get back the full amount invested.  

This document is for information only and does not form part of a direct offer or invitation to purchase, subscribe for or dispose of securities and no reliance should be placed on it. Downing does not offer investment or tax advice or make recommendations regarding investments. This document contains information and analysis that is believed to be accurate at the time of publication, but is subject to change without notice. Whilst care has been taken in compiling the content of this document, no representation or warranty, express or implied, is made by Downing LLP as to its accuracy or completeness, including for external sources (which may have been used) which have not been verified. Downing is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Firm Reference No. 545025). Registered in England No. OC341575. Registered Office: St Magnus House, 3 Lower Thames Street, London EC3R 6HD.


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