Mikhail Zverev, Standard Life Investments’ global equity rising star, is betting on mobile internet companies to drive his fund into the big league.
Edinburgh-based Standard Life has lagged behind rival fund companies such as Aberdeen, Carmignac and M&G in the global equity stakes in recent years, in spite of efforts to boost its presence, including a US distribution push.
Mr Zverev became the group’s head of global equities in September 2012 after Lance Phillips left to join Legal & General’s investment business.
His flagship Global Equity Unconstrained fund, now in its 15th year, reported assets under management at just £55.4m at the end of January.
The fund’s relatively small size comes in spite of top-decile three-year returns of 50.9 per cent, according to data from Morningstar.
The global equity fund’s small size also contrasts with the growth of Standard Life’s ultra-popular Global Absolute Return Strategies product – now one of the biggest funds in Europe with more than £14bn under management.
However, Mr Zverev says companies that are positioned to dominate the mobile internet marketplace will drive the next era of his fund’s growth.
“A tipping point has been reached that could see mobile internet becoming more lucrative than desktop internet,” he says.
“Theoretically, Google on a mobile can be more profitable than on a computer because it will be able to target advertising and deals more effectively, based on the location of the user when they make a search.”
Google is now the biggest holding in the Global Equity Unconstrained fund at 2.9 per cent.
The manager has also added a 2.4 per cent weighting to PayPal owner Ebay – its sixth-largest weighting.
The new focus on companies with mobile internet operations marks a natural next step for the fund, which benefited from a large weighting in the technology sector in 2012.
The manager says the tech slant stems from the team’s investment philosophy, which seeks to identify “change” factors that are insufficiently priced over a two-year time horizon.
“The tech sector lends itself well to our strategy as there is a lot of change in the industry and it is complex,” he adds.
The team’s unconstrained stockpicking approach is also maintained with little regard for more top-down, macroeconomic drivers of stock markets.
Stock ideas are fed in from the group’s range of fund managers and analysts who cover most global stock markets.
Mr Zverev adds that in spite of the fund’s high-conviction investment approach it holds more than 50 individual positions.
“We have 63 analysts and if they all come up with one really compelling idea every year, which you’d expect they would, it’s hard to even accommodate all of those in a 50-stock portfolio,” Mr Zverev says.
Jenny Lowe is features editor at Investment Adviser
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