Geoff Wilson and the portfolio manager for his first global offering, Catriona Burns, have hit the road in search of investments to fill a fund that could raise as much as $550 million.
Mr Wilson and Ms Burns arrived in New York over the weekend for two weeks of conferences and meetings with companies that could find their way in to the Wilson Global fund, which launched its prospectus last week.
The US tour will kick off with the annual Sohn charity conference where the cream of America’s fund managers pitch their best investment ideas and ends in two weeks at the Berkshire Hathaway conference in Omaha where tens of thousands of visitors from around the world gather to hear the wisdom of founder Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger.
With the US market making up more than half of the MSCI Global Index, Mr Wilson said it was inevitable there would be a number of companies from there in the fund.
But WAM Global is seeking to differentiate itself from other well-known managers of international investments for Australian investors such as Platinum Asset Management, Magellan Financial Group and Antipodes, by targeting small and mid-cap companies.
WAM Global is casting the net wider. Ms Burns arrived in the US from visiting Hong Kong, Japan, London and Switzerland.
The fund is hoping to uncover undervalued small and mid-cap stock around the world.
“They tend to be small to medium-sized companies, because that is where the you get the growth and the asymmetry of information and that is where we have always spent our time with research,” Mr Wilson said.
Since the fund was announced in January there has been a rebasing of equity markets around the world to lower levels as a result of the February rout sparked by worse than expected job numbers.
Mr Wilson said the market was still not cheap, but the fund would not rush to invest if it could not find value.
“When it was coming off in February I was hoping it would be a lot lower because it would have meant that we would be starting a fund at the bottom of the market,” he said.
The US market is in a mature phase as already the second-longest bull market in history and on its way to the outright record by June.
But Mr Wilson said that while it was important to buy at a good price, it was difficult to time markets.
The fund is able to sit on large cash weightings, similar to the approach taken by other WAM funds.
“We are a bit like retail investors; rules No 1, 2 and 3 are: don’t lose any capital.”