OMGI chief Richard Buxton on the hunt for new managers


Richard Buxton will use his new role as chief executive of Old Mutual Global Investors to build the investment team beyond just his notoriety, and is on the hunt for new managers.

The star manager was promoted to chief executive of OMGI last week in a management reshuffle, replacing former chief executive Julian Ide. The reshuffle also saw Warren Tonkinson promoted to the newly-created role of managing director to work alongside Buxton.

Buxton’s new role will be more like that of a chief investment officer, running the investment side of the business, working on building up recent hires and filling gaps in OMGI’s investment offering.

However, Buxton is keen not to class himself as a CIO.

He says: “We have made it a central tenet of OMGI that we do not have a CIO. We’re making a virtue of the fact that different teams are independent, feel accountable and responsible and make their own calls and decisions.

“But effectively that is more the nature of the role, in bringing investment leadership to the strategic direction of the company.”

Buxton’s key focus initially will be to launch the Absolute Return Government Bond funds to be run by Russ Oxley and his team, who moved over from Ignis Asset Management earlier this year.

Buxton says he also wants to build up Josh Crabb’s Asian Equity and Pacific Equity funds, which are doing well in Hong Kong but need more work on boosting awareness of them in the UK.

“There are ideas in mind, other capabilities and products,” says Buxton. “There is nothing immediately on the horizon but we have some ideas, so watch this space.”

Industry insiders say a focus for OMGI needs to be expanding the managers beyond its figurehead. While Buxton says he is not going anywhere and plans to be at the firm for at least 12 years until retirement, he is conscious of also bringing in new talent.

“I want to create a culture that really good investors want to come and work here, and of course we will always be open to talking to talented investors,” he says. However, he remains coy about the particular areas into which he is looking to expand OMGI’s line-up.

Buxton is moving in the right direction by building up existing teams, says Axa Wealth head of investing Adrian Lowcock.

Bonds in particular is an area OMGI needs to improve, particularly after the departure of Stewart Cowley earlier this year, he says.

“It is an area they were well known for but are not competing with the main players. Overall it is about trying to repeat what they have achieved with the UK team.”

However, doubts remain as to how easy it will be for Buxton to continue to effectively run his hugely successful UK Alpha fund, and its offshore version, as well as be chief executive of the firm.

Buxton says: “It would be a complete stretch of credibility if I was running small to mid-cap funds with high turnover. The fact that my investment style is so long-term, large cap, low turnover, with a great team around me [helps].”

Tilney Bestinvest managing director Jason Hollands says: “This is absolutely a flagship product for Old Mutual, so Richard and the whole team will be acutely aware that there must be no loss of focus.

“We will be keeping an eye on what it might mean and whether there is the potential for him to be a bit stretched.”

Spinning plates

Richard Buxton is not alone in taking on a dual chief executive and fund manager role.

Edward Bonham Carter: Bonham Carter became chief executive at Jupiter Asset Management in 2007, after being co-chief executive for a number of years. At the time he still ran the undervalued assets funds, but stepped down from the fund management role two years later after nine years at the helm, handing the reins to Patrick Harrington.

Euan Munro: Former Standard Life Investments Gars creator Munro moved to Aviva Investors to start a similar fund and take the helm of the manager. He became chief executive at the start of 2014, but is also strategic adviser on Aviva’s Gars rival, the AIMS fund range. However, Peter Fitzgerald is officially the head of the multi-asset team running the fund.

Gervais Williams: Williams is managing director at Miton, running the asset manager’s operations, while also managing a variety of small and mid-cap funds for clients. He extended his responsibilities earlier this year when Miton launched the micro-cap trust for him to manage.