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Manager focus: John Bennett

After a three-year underweight to banks, John Bennett at Gam is beginning to buy back into the sector on his two European equity vehicles.

The manager of the Gam Star Continental European Equity and Gam Star European Equity funds says banks will not be allowed to go bust, but will be bailed out by their country’s governments. Many banks are starting to rebuild their profitability, Bennett adds.

“We have been underweight banks for three years but we have been a buyer of banks in the last six months,” he says.

He owns Barclays, Lloyds and Royal Bank of Scotland in Britain (in Gam Star European only), BNP Paribas and Soc Gen in France, UBS and Credit Suisse in Switzerland, two Nordic banks and no Spanish banks.

In another major strategic call, Bennett has moved into technology stocks with the conviction that the value has gone from traditional value sectors such as capital goods, food manufacturing, tobacco and utilities. This value has migrated into growth sectors such as pharmaceuticals, food retailers and information technology. “There is interesting value in technology for the first time in years,” he says.

Looking broadly at the economies of the countries in which Bennett invests, he says ‘green shoots’ at the macro level are irrelevant to the performance of the stockmarket.

“In the short term, whether green shoots appear or not won’t determine stockmarket returns. Europe has been a low growth area in terms of GDP for over 20 years but it has similar stockmarket returns to the UK. The key factor is the amount of liquidity being hosed at the system,” he says.

Generally European governments could afford to implement more dramatic fiscal stimulus, Bennett says, especially Germany which has lagged behind other countries in terms of its spending.

However, he emphasises that what America does could affect what happens in Europe to a greater degree. “Ultimately they will dance to the US’s tune,” he says.


Henderson New Star realigns technology fund

Ian Warmerdam and Stuart O’Gorman have sold about half the positions in the £154m New Star Technology fund they took over in April following the merger of Henderson and New Star.Warmerdam, co-head of technology with O’Gorman, says the portfolio has been aligned to mirror the Henderson Global Technology fund, but the American mutual version, not […]


Guide: how to change your auto-enrolment support

As we approach the two-year milestone of auto-enrolment, employers have had the opportunity to truly assess the capabilities of their chosen support. They are also now realising that getting to the staging date was the easy part, and that support is required for almost every aspect of the day to day running of their scheme. With the three-year re-enrolment window coinciding for many with the total removal of commission and Active Member Discounts from pension-related products and services, as well as the introduction of the pension charge cap in April 2015, many employers will have no choice but to review their support options. But, what is involved in transitioning your auto-enrolment scheme away from your current support options? This guide from Johnson Fleming aims to outline some of these key areas and provide information and discussion points on what you need to consider.


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