Ethics equal returns with Eric Holt

Ethics equal returns with Eric Holt

Eric’s Holt’s robust track record speaks for itself. With a career spanning 4 decades, the avid skier, motorcyclist and scuba diver, naturally found his stride in the high octane world of asset management. Prior to this, Eric, a Nottingham University Mathematics graduate, had worked at Refuge Assurances’ actuarial department. He started there in 1972 but moved to Royal London in 1999 when the Group took Refuge over.

Today, as well as overseeing Royal London’s credit research process, he also manages both Sterling Extra Yield Bond Fund and the Ethical Bond Fund. The Ethical Bond Fund encompasses a diverse portfolio, demonstrating a strong yield, but also adhering to stringent ethical criteria. The fund comprises 80%+ sterling-denominated corporate bonds, but strictly excludes investment in bonds issued by companies in the gambling, armaments and pornography industries. It also avoids bonds in the areas of tobacco and alcohol.

Managing the Ethical Bond Fund, a strategic bond fund gives Holt the license to allocate funds to those bonds he believes will generate the greatest yield, while avoiding problem areas. Strategic bond funds are not limited to focussing on a single type of bond, which means they can be receptive to changing opportunities. But their success sinks or swims based on the nouse of their managers. Such funds are riskier than those which favour government bonds because they are exposed to company debt, meaning that their managers rely on their awareness of the balancing act between growth and risk. While the opportunity to invest in a spread of assets can be an advantage, it also means that a strategic bond’s risk profile can fluctuate wildly – in the wrong hands.

Holt’s record with the Fund is impressive: it has consistently outranked the Market iBoxx Sterling Non-Gifts index and the Investment Association Sterling Strategic Bond sector, not just over one, but also over three and five years. This performance evinces Holt’s stockpiling skills, as well as his canny timing and honed investment instincts. Wide-ranging experience with UK investment grade and high yield corporate bonds and enables Holt to navigate this complex environment boldly, even when he is ostensibly limited to ethically sound concerns.

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