Craig, Francois, tell us about your background?
Craig: I’ve been with ANZ for 18 years. Before that, I lived in London (where I met my Kiwi wife, Helen) for nearly 15 years – first as a student and then as an analyst and fund manager. I had a brief stint on the futures trading floor before starting my funds management career in 1995.
When Helen and I moved to New Zealand in late 2003, I joined Forsyth Barr before moving back to funds management in 2005 with ING – which at that time was half-owned by ANZ. I’ve been at ANZ ever since.
Francois: Like Craig, I’ve spent time carving out a career in London; but unlike Craig, I’m new to the bank – I joined ANZ in mid-May, so I’ve been here a little over a month.
My career’s taken me from London to Brussels, Singapore, and now New Zealand. I worked in real estate private equity for five years, and prior to that in investment banking for 12 years, advising companies globally on M&A and capital markets transactions. I started my career as a Junior Equity Analyst in a hedge fund.
What do you like about your role?
Craig: It’s a bit of a cliché, but no two days are ever the same. You get to meet some incredible people and research interesting companies, so you’re in a constant state of learning. The work is immensely challenging, interesting, and rewarding.
Francois: I’m passionate about real estate and finance (two decades and counting in those sectors!), which is what my role is all about – so getting to come in and do what I love is a real privilege. What I find particularly interesting is feeling the pulse of the market, trying to understand its trends, and articulating investment theses on that basis.
What does your role involve? What do you do on a daily basis?
Craig: Francois and I work closely together – currently, we look after NZ$1.4bn of capital across three funds. Investing in the market daily can be challenging because you’re always competing against other investors for clients and performance. It can also be counterintuitive – when markets are falling or volatile, the best response is often to buy more, rather than sell. You have to keep your nerve. But after 27 years in the industry, I still get a buzz when thorough research results in an investment which performs well.
Francois: Essentially my role involves evaluating stocks and helping Craig make decisions about whether to invest more, less, or not in stocks that fall into our investable universe (New Zealand and Australia-listed property stocks).
A typical day might include analysing financial accounts, building financial and valuation models, reading articles and research reports, conducting interviews with management teams and board directors, helping to administer our investment holdings, visiting properties and developments, or writing up investment recommendations. It’s busy, varied, and always a challenge – but that’s what keeps it interesting.
Timing is one of the most difficult aspect of investments. Stock markets have a life of their own and often amplify what’s happening out there – which as we know can be volatile. Patience is key, which is not immediately my first quality!
What makes you proud to work for ANZ Investments?
Craig: We work with some incredibly intelligent and talented people from a bunch of different backgrounds. We have a great team culture and every day we strive to deliver the best possible outcome for our clients.
Francois: I feel the same way. Having joined the ANZ Investments team only recently, what surprised me (in a good way) was how kind people are. Our team members are talented, qualified, and driven. I’d describe the team culture as stimulating – something I really value.
What do you feel makes ANZ Investments different from other fund managers?
Craig: We’re the largest non-government owned fund manager in New Zealand. We’re also New Zealand’s largest KiwiSaver provider, and the only bank-owned fund manager with an active management strategy. That means we seek out the best investments for our clients, rather than holding all securities in the market proportion to their index weight.
Francois: It’s worth stressing how unique that active management strategy is – it sets us apart from other retail banks. And unlike standalone fund managers, we benefit from being part of the broader ANZ family, with the clear advantage that brings like our access to infrastructure, market position, and a broad and diverse set of clients.
How have you seen the industry change over the years?
Craig: I was at ANZ when KiwiSaver started in 2007. It’s been a gamechanger, as before then, fund managers typically competed for wholesale clients.
Francois: Our industry is driven by trends, but one of the most important – and really pleasing to see – has been the increasing importance of ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) in investments. We’re at the dawn of this new era and that’s exciting.
What’s your own attitude to investing?
Craig: I look for companies that have a clear strategy for growing shareholder value, paired with great management. Great management cultivates a great team culture and energises employees to believe that anything is achievable, which flows through to results.
Francois: I’d describe myself as a conservative investor. I aim for capital preservation rather than capital creation, and I prefer to receive income along the way.
Finally, what do you like to do outside work?
Craig: I play tennis and golf at the weekends when I can, but I also enjoy skiing and mountain biking holidays with friends and family. My favourite daily routine is going on my morning walk with my dog Robbie, a seven-year-old Scottish Terrier.
Francois: I’m new to New Zealand, so I’ve picked up sailing which I’m really enjoying – it’s a great way to discover the Hauraki Gulf from the water. My favourite activity is travelling with my family (I have three children), so I aim to be on the road as soon as I have some time off. I also like endurance sports and have a few events planned in the summer to train for.