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Mix and match mission

Launched in 2003, OPM has always focused on differentiating itself in the crowded multi-manager area, whether through direct equity expertise or technical market analysis.

The Norwich firm started 10 years earlier, running money for wealthy clients of broker firm Smith & Pinching on a bespoke basis.

Much of this was in direct equities and the firm soon found itself struggling to meet the research requirements involved in such an individual service. As a result, the fund management arm split off in 2003 and has subsequently brought several collective portfolios to market, effectively unitising its established private client process.

This involved a client shift towards the IFA sector and greater focus on funds to provide market exposure. To emphasise its separate nature, the firm also rebranded as OPM in 2007, selected as they felt it was a memorable name.

OPM are not formal initials according to the team, although one suggestion that may find favour with clients is Only Performance Matters.

Heading the firm are CIO Tony Yousefian and Ross Henderson on the investment side while Richard Carswell looks after commercial matters. According to Yousefian, OPM’s direct equity heritage is a major differentiator in multi-manager land and means that the firm is genuinely able to offer multi-asset portfolios.

He says: “Our aim was to provide something clearly different in the fund of funds’ market and the advent of Ucits III, which allows us to mix and match collectives and direct equities, played to our strengths. Most of the focus in this part of the market is on fund selection, with ongoing asset allocation pushed to one side. We have made it our mission to provide such a service while letting advisers keep control of their clients.”

OPM’s process is built on a core and satellite approach, blending technical market analysis with fundamental and qualitative research.

They run a core list of fund holdings across the range to reflect the group’s strategic view. These are typically held for the long term as long as they fit in with OPM’s overall view of the world.

Meanwhile, the satellite element involves shorter- term tactical calls, which the managers implement via direct equities, long and short ETFs and structured products.

Like most wealth managers, the firm tends to hold short-term bespoke structures to express a particular positive or negative view on markets.

They currently have a one-year stability note on the S&P 500, for example, which pays 20 per cent unless the index falls or rises by 40 per cent from a starting level of 985.

According to Yousefian, using these satellite vehicles allows him to dampen volatility without killing upside. He can increase or decrease risk depending on market views, adding or withdrawing beta to the core portfolio.

Such tactical calls are informed by detailed technical analysis, with Yousefian and team poring over charts to establish where markets are heading in the short and longer term.

Looking across the fund range, OPM has five vehicles available covering different asset classes. Balanced managed is the broadest and reflects the group’s overall global outlook.

Yousefian admits they got things wrong on this portfolio last year, positioning based on the call that economic stability would return by Q4.

However, the team feels that the market bottomed late last year and numbers on the fund have started to turn via some aggressive activity on the short ETF side.

Elsewhere, the group also has a property fund, which seeks to produce better returns than traditional bricks and mortar portfolios with less risk.

To achieve this, they hold a combination of Reits, direct property funds and listed vehicles.

Rounding out the range are fixed interest, equity high income and UK equity offerings, with the latter a 50/50 split between collectives and direct equities.

Yousefian is named manager on the fixed income, balanced managed and equity high- income funds, with Hend- erson in charge of UK equity and property.

James Bruce is responsible for research across the range.

Fitting the boutique model nicely, OPM is part-owned by the senior staff to align manager and investor interests and administration is all outsourced.

Overall, the firm has assets under management of £85m-£90m across the five funds and various bespoke mandates.

They have enjoyed steady inflows even during recent times, creating units on the funds to meet demand every month apart from last July.


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