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Welcome to our revamped Quarterly Investment Outlook. Each quarter, we will be delving into a global thematic concept and start to break it down into its various components, along with providing a short recap on investment markets and a look ahead. We believe in large thematic ideas that are changing the world around us and will continue to do so in the years to come.
We are always looking at ways we can improve how we invest – the investment world has changed radically in the last 30 years and it is important to keep up with it. Whilst a lot of what we look at from an investment perspective is the revolutionary impact technology has had on many sectors, we are also using as much technology as possible internally to improve our process. With a dedicated quantitative team in combination with our own internally developed quant toolkit we have the ability to process large quantities of data.
Client portfolios are the primary beneficiaries of this, as we combine short term tactical trading using a macro/valuation/sentiment/technical (MVST) model to adjust our positioning with our longer-term fundamental views and thematic holdings across all our discretionary mandates, where applicable. Our focus is on minimising downside whilst taking positions in companies that we believe are going to impact the world in the decades to come.
We believe thematic investing is something that drives longer, above-average returns.
We are incorporating thematic investing across all our client portfolios, as we believe this is something that drives longer, above-average returns. We are trying to capture ideas that are either changing how we operate as a society (technology for example) or things that we as humans fundamentally need to survive.
Thematic investing arguably starts with the latter – what do we need as humans? Food, water and shelter. Everything else is a ‘nice to have’, but not ‘required’ – our ancestors seemed to survive without sharing what they had for dinner on Facebook, whilst simultaneously browsing Instagram for inspiration for their next outfit, which they want to wear to the date they found through Tinder.
What we are particularly focused on is how technology is being incorporated into these areas. In the modern world, technology is the one thematic concept that sits atop all the others. This could be looking at developments in technology when it comes to food and farming, the use of technology to try and provide clean drinking water for all, the relatively recent introduction of 3D printed houses for shelter, or even the collaboration between technology and healthcare looking at how artificial intelligence can assist diagnoses.
One of the key challenges in the coming 30 years is going to be increasing agricultural production.
We have identified a number of such thematic topics but the one we are focused on this quarter is food. One of the key challenges facing the world in the coming 30 years is going to be sufficiently increasing agricultural production, whilst maintaining ecosystems that continue to function normally. As the global population swells by another 2bn people, and as people eat more meat, combined with a small but growing movement towards food sustainability – can our planet cope? Can our farmers cope? Can we use technology and the finite resources that our planet has, to produce enough food to feed us all? And more importantly, can we be fed in the way that we want to eat?
Will the cycle of growing crops to feed animals to satisfy our hunger for meat cease, or will we find additional solutions to feed us? Currently 97 per cent of US soybeans are used as animal feed, with only 3 per cent consumed by us as food products. Concurrently, crop yields have increased by around six times in the last 80 years due to fertilisers, pesticides and the increased mechanisation of farming.
Will crops in the future be grown in soil? Using technology, it is possible to make rotating, stacking, hydroponic, organic food production systems that have yields far in excess of what can be achieved in the field (five to 10 times). This could enable even the most densely populated cities to one day have their own locally-grown food source.
If nothing else, this quarter’s outlook should certainly provide food for thought.