American Funds portfolio manager Rob Lovelace discusses the investment group’s approach to hiring new research associates.
Kevin Clifford: Talk about our hiring plans. Talk about growing the investment group over time.
Rob Lovelace: The investment group is a dynamic entity because we think multi-generationally. We want to make sure that we’ve got the investors in place to manage the portfolios when people retire a decade from now or longer.
So we need to constantly be hiring and thinking about where the world is going, where the new companies are that we need to be looking at, what are the sectors that need to be covered. A decade ago we didn’t have that many people focused on internet commerce. There were only a few companies. Now it’s one of the bigger sectors that we have multiple people looking at from different angles. We didn’t need to worry about investing in China a decade ago. It was almost restricted in terms of how much you could do there. Now we need multiple analysts looking at it in different sectors, in different areas.
I was interviewing a candidate just yesterday who came from mainland China. She was a star in her province. To give you a sense of that, her province is probably larger than the country of Germany, but she had to fight her way up through the ranks there to get to go to Beijing University, which is sort of the top of the pyramid. She was studying to be a biologist and decided that that really wasn’t for her. And in China, that’s pretty unusual. This is someone who was on a track, had fought for it and decided that what really was intriguing to her was financial markets.
She ended up, after graduating, going abroad, and we’re now having a chance to talk to her. And she really, to me, epitomizes the type and quality of person that wants to come and work at Capital. A lot of our hiring has been focused on the faster growing parts of the world, and China’s one of those key areas, because the number of companies we can invest in is expanding. With new rules, foreigners can invest in more companies, and also there are more being started there. So finding Mandarin speakers or others that speak dialects local there is so critical to us, because we —from our Beijing office, from our Hong Kong office, from our Tokyo office or Singapore office — we have analysts that live and breathe the Asian environment.
So we’re hiring constantly. But wherever we’re hiring, it tends to be either replacement of someone that’s moving into a different role at Capital or because it’s a new area that we need coverage.
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