24/04/2015 - 13:23

Viburnum plays ball on students’ pitch

24/04/2015 - 13:23


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Students at the University of Western Australia have partnered with Nedlands-based money manager Viburnum Funds to set up a $20,000 student-run managed fund.

LAUNCHING: Tim AJ (left), Marshall Allen and UWA Business School dean Phillip Dolan at the partnership launch. Photo: Attila Csaszar

Students at the University of Western Australia have partnered with Nedlands-based money manager Viburnum Funds to set up a $20,000 student-run managed fund.

Launched last week with funding from Viburnum, the partnership will give students a practical opportunity to engage in the finance sector. Members from the Student Managed Investment Fund (Smif) club will pitch stocks to a representative from Viburnum, who will have ultimate discretion for allocations.

A portion of the fund’s annual returns will be given to charity.

Smif president Timothy AJ said he believed it was the first student-managed fund of its kind in Australia.

“We’ll pitch stocks to (Viburnum), we’ll do extensive valuations, macro and also fundamental valuations,” he said

“We learn theories in university, but Viburnum will provide us with the practical aspect of investing.”

Mr AJ said the club’s members were passionate about investing and about financial markets, and hoped to set up more such funds in the future.

Smif has developed partnerships with local brokerages, including Patersons Securities, and international financial media powerhouse Bloomberg, both of which have arranged sponsorship deals with the club.

The club, which was formed last year, is centred in the UWA Business School, although membership is open to all students.

Viburnum Funds managing director and UWA alumni Marshall Allen said his firm’s interest was driven by the potential educational benefit of the program.

“Many young investors are daunted by the ASX and confused by the many strategies employed by investors,” he said.

“What we want to do is demystify this process and get them to understand that the ASX is simply a window through which to look at the companies beneath.

“We have stressed to the team that we are investors, not traders.

“Much of what Viburnum does on the private and strategic equity side is difficult to roll out to a student environment, but the recent launch of our high-conviction fund, managed by portfolio managers Alex White and Edmon Odza, gave us the perfect platform through which to have this conversation.

“Although it’s only a small amount of money, the Smif high-conviction portfolio will be modelled on that fund strategy.”

Founded in 2007, Viburnum initially managed funds for the Wyllie Group before it opened to high net worth individuals. It now has about $300 million under management.

Last December, it launched its third fund, the high-conviction fund, a highly focused portfolio that aims to provide absolute returns across the market cycle.

For the March quarter, its first full quarter, the fund’s gross return was 6.5 per cent, well above the intended benchmark of 8 per cent per annum.

Property is the key sector of interest, at 13.2 per cent exposure, followed by industrials, software and tourism.

The Viburnum high-conviction fund doesn’t invest in resources or energy stocks, however, because it doesn’t believe it can offer unique insight into commodity price directions and prefers ‘not to invest in companies exposed to such uncertain outcomes’.


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