A day in the life of...David Appleton
No two days are the same for anyone working at the front line of investment decisions. This article is a brief and personal account of a full and varied day that brings many challenges for Investment Director David Appleton...not least from his daughter, Lily...
A typical working day starts at 5:45am when my alarm goes off at home on the south side of Glasgow. Timing is critical as I need to catch the first subway train of the day in order to get to Queen Street Station in time to board the 6:45am train to Edinburgh. I am not alone in this endeavour, and every morning there are about five or six of us that have to sprint from the subway station to make this train. Judging by the bemused looks of the workers around the station, this bizarre early morning commuter footrace must be quite a sight.
The joy of being up so early is the lack of other people. Having experienced a decade of standing up in a crowded tube with a stranger’s armpit in my face on the Northern Line of the London Underground, I will never tire of the space and tranquillity afforded early morning travellers between these two great Scottish cities. Work for me has now effectively started and I use the next hour or so to read research, catch up on market news, and respond to emails. I typically arrive at the office in Charlotte Square after a brisk walk from Haymarket Station at around 7:45am, a short while before the UK financial markets open.
The early part of the morning tends to be dominated by corporate news, and a key challenge is to work out what is genuinely relevant and material information amid the vast reams of emails, data, webcasts, conference calls, and broker research. Processing the sheer volume of information is particularly challenging if a number of companies are reporting results on the same day, as can often be the case. The first meeting of the day takes place at 9am where the investment team gathers together to discuss all of the key developments. This is then followed by a market briefing at 9:30am with the wider private client & charities team. Debate is actively encouraged and having the entire Cornelian team together on the same floor in a single office definitely helps in this regard.
Processing the sheer volume of information is particularly challenging if a number of companies are reporting results on the same day, as can often be the case.
The rest of the day is split between researching potential new investments and reviewing existing holdings and investment strategy. Energetic discussion and debate with colleagues never stops and is one of the most enjoyable parts of the job for me. Desk research is broken up by visits to the office from corporate leaders, industry analysts or other fund managers that are experts in a range of subjects. It is a well-worn cliché that no single day is the same in fund management, but in my experience this is absolutely true. Meetings on any given day could range from a luxury brand grappling with the changing tastes of fickle consumers, to a recycled cardboard packaging business capitalising on the explosive growth of ecommerce, to an infrastructure fund looking to raise finance to upgrade the London sewer system.
...no single day is the same in fund management...Meetings on any given day could range from a luxury brand grappling with the changing tastes of fickle consumers, to an infrastructure fund looking to raise finance to upgrade the London sewer system.
The world is constantly changing and our job is to challenge relentlessly our understanding of it in order to make sensible, well-founded investment decisions. We need to think about unusual things like the potential impact of the development of electric cars and autonomous driving. What are the implications for our investments in GKN (makes driveshafts), Direct Line (insures drivers) and BP (produces the fuel for combustion engines)? What does Brexit mean for the UK? What will Donald Trump do next? It is an awesome challenge to steward clients’ wealth through what feels like a time of exceptional change and uncertainty, but attempting to meet that challenge is a hugely enjoyable privilege.
I normally get home around 7:30pm, just in time to read a bedtime story to my two children, Lily (5yrs) and Rudy (2 ½), before they go to sleep. Explaining what a fund manager does to a five year old is tricky. Lily has decided that people give me pennies and I then try to turn those pennies into more pennies. Most evenings typically end with the following interaction:
Lily: How many pennies did you make today Daddy?
Me: Three today I think Lily
Lily: Three pennies??? Well done Daddy!