29th CONKERS' CORNER: 3rd October 2016 : “Conkers’ Corner” speaking with Gervais Williams
Welcome to the 29th CONKERS’ CORNER. In this interview I have the privilege of speaking with award winning Investment Fund Manager @gervais_mam Gervais Williams. He is currently the Managing Director of Miton Group Plc, where he and the team monitor the market trend changes beyond the credit boom, and aim to set up funds with investment strategies harnessing forthcoming investment trends.
Gervais grew up in Abergavenny in Monmouthshire; a county in South East Wales. As the son of a Farmer, he had always liked business but did not know how he was going to get into it. He attended the University of Liverpool where he attained an Engineering Degree and went onto become a Chartered Engineer. It was in 1985 that Gervais made the switch into the Investment industry, after successfully applying for a Trainee Fund Manager role at the Throgmorton Investment Trust. He started analysing small companies, did his industry exams and remained with the group for five years.
Gervais first “dabbled a bit” in stocks and shares during the Thatcher revolution and the Conservative government’s de-nationalisation policy of utilities and services. He participated in some of the privatisations, however he admits that he has never really invested that much of his own personal account, preferring instead to invest in the funds he worked for. He states that when he started analysing small companies they were in fashion and were central to all portfolios His criteria then was to look for small companies which generated good earnings growth, with lowish PEs and limited downside risk. Gervais says that there were a lot of bankruptcies at that time and you had to be mindful of their accounting policy issues.
Gervais became an Investment Manager in UK & Irish Small Cap Stocks at Thornton Investment Management (now part of Dresdner Bank) in July 1990. It was during this time that he worked with Peter Webb, managing the Thornton UK Smaller Companies Unit Trust.
In March 1993 Gervais was appointed as a Fund Manager with Gartmore Asset Management. There he gained an extensive experience of investing in quoted stocks in the UK and Ireland, with a particular interest in companies with smaller market capitalisations. He headed up the UK Small Cap Desk for many years running portfolios such as UK & Irish Smaller Companies, Gartmore Growth plc, Gartmore Irish Growth Trust plc and Gartmore Fledgling Trust plc.During this period of success the team collected many investment awards. The humble Gervais once said that he joined Gartmore at “a fortuitous time as it coincided with a major shift in the markets after a prolonged period of recession”. He remained with Gartmore for nearly eighteen years.
When Gervais decided to leave Gartmore he did so with the intention of looking at all the opportunities available to him before choosing to the best in join Miton Group in March 2011. To build up the assets under management and was able to offer investors opportunities to invest new strategies and funds. Since 2011 Miton have established four new funds that Gervais has managed along with Martin Turner, and taken on the mandate for The Investment Company plc. These funds have genuinely active investment strategies. The funds are: the Diverse Income Trust Investment Trust, the CF Miton UK Multi Cap Income OEIC, the CF Miton UK Smaller Companies OEIC and the Miton UK Microcap Trust.
On a professional level Gervais has remained focused on small stocks throughout his career. So much so that his experience and passion for that niche led to him writing his book “The Future is Small” http://www.thefutureissmall.com/ explaining the unique characteristics of the UK’s AIM market for smaller, growing companies. When Gervais joined Miton they issued their Full Year results in April 2011 with Funds under Management of £1.7 Billion. Last month Miton http://www.mitongroup.com/ published their Interim results which showed they had £2.542 Billion in Assets under Management.