Artemis’ Rosanna Burcheri: a personal investment served as a lesson for my professional life

The fund manager discusses having skin in the game’, female participation in the industry, and growing up in a family where money was tight.

Rosanna Burcheri is co-manager of the Artemis Global Select fund and the Mid Wynd investment trust. Rosanna started her career at Paribas Asset Management as a junior fund manager, before joining M&G as a fund manager and director responsible for pan-European equity portfolios. She later worked as a senior European portfolio manager at Shell Pension Management Service, and as partner and pan-European fund manager for FrontPoint Management. She joined Artemis in 2011.

- Read other interviews in the Women in Finance series here

Growing up, what did you learn about money?
My parents emigrated from the south of Italy to the north and when my father’s father died, my father inherited a lot of debt at a time when interest rates were high. We always spoke about money at home, and I learned to avoid too much debt and to count the pennies.

I was born in Como, and my father was a teacher. At the time, you went to school only in the morning, so my father had one job in the morning at a secondary school, and in the afternoon he worked in a factory. Money was tight and I had handmade clothes, although fortunately, two aunts were professional couturiers, so it was not too awful! We went to restaurants only for really special occasions, and holidays were scarce. I took my first flight aged 16.

My father used to make notes of all expenditure in a little red notebook, and when I was older and the situation was less tough, I started to receive weekly pocket money. My dad encouraged me to keep a record of my spending. My weekly pocket money was 5,000 lira (today’s equivalent is £2.20) and I lived by the 30/30/30 rule: 30% of the money earmarked for spending, 30% for rent and 30% for saving. The balance of 10% was in case of error.

Who takes care of the money in your house?
I do and my husband, equally. We have similar backgrounds and sit down together on a monthly or bimonthly basis to go through our bank and credit card statements. It’s a good discipline that helps you understand how much you are spending, how expensive life is in London - and it can also help detect potential fraud.

What was your first investment?
A personal one, in terms of a material possession, was a tiny Gucci bag I bought when I first earned a bonus.

One of my first personal investments was BioMarin Pharmaceutical at the time of its IPO in 1999. I had a special interest in pharmaceuticals and the company was working on early stage research for a drug for a very peculiar illness in children: it was something that touched my heart.

I learned a lot from this investment, and about how rocky it is to invest in biotech - it was really up and down. It lasted three years in my portfolio and then I’d had enough of the volatility! From that personal investment I learned something for my professional investment life: never touch biotech. If you are not a scientific person, it is akin to flipping a coin.

What was your best investment?
Investing my pension money and family savings into the unit trust and investment trust that I co-manage: the Artemis Global Select Fund and the Mid-Wynd investment trust. At Artemis, we have a saying about “eating your own cooking”, and these investments have been one of the best things I’ve ever done.

And your worst investment?
My flat in London. It was expensive and is in need of maintenance because of its age. The legal limitations when you try to make improvements are a headache, and it’s been a bad investment in terms of both money and time.

I think of a good investment as investing in a company that can take care of itself in all points of the cycle, produce a nice compounding without needing constant monitoring, and without needing to be at the top of my mind every single day. And unfortunately, this flat has been the opposite.

What’s the best thing about your job?
People and what I learn from them, from my colleagues and competitors at conferences, to the company management I have the privilege to meet. I think of myself as a sponge, soaking up all the things I like from the people I meet throughout my life. I am lucky that I have a good memory and I’m able to “collect” such things.

And the worst?
Administration. Fortunately, I share a fantastic personal assistant with other fund managers.

If you could change only one thing about the industry you work in, what would it be?
Female participation. When I started in 1997, there were a lot of female fund managers, but today there are not many women in the asset management industry.

My way of trying to change that is through the work I’m doing to champion “smart working” with the investment industry’s Diversity Project. The Diversity Project, which is chaired by Dame Helena Morrissey, is a cross-company initiative championing a more inclusive culture within the industry.

I am an ambassador for flexible working for The Diversity Project. I practise flexible working very actively and Artemis have always been very well set up for this, but some companies are not. It’s one of the barriers to female participation in the fund management industry, but it’s not the only problem.

We have been very vocal about “smart working” for a while and the Covid-19 situation has propelled flexible working to the top of the agenda, even though many people are currently being forced to work from home, which is different to having a flexible working arrangement. At the moment, I joke that I am a fund manager, a wife, a mum, a teacher, a doctor and a chef all at once.

If you had to save money, what could you do without?
Restaurants. During lockdown, my family and I have held cookery competitions, and tried many new recipes, including the French dessert canelé, almost to the point of cookery exhaustion!

What financial advice would you give your younger self?
Spend less on low-quality clothing. I was a bit over-consumerist as a young person.

What do you do for fun?
I love being in the mountains and skiing in Chamonix. I also enjoy trekking, yoga, cooking and dinners with friends:  I particularly enjoy Lebanese, Turkish, and Greek food.

In another life I would be a… doctor. Many years ago, my older son was diagnosed with an illness. He’s ok now, but at the time, I remember thinking that if I was a doctor I could help him, and I would have had a better understanding of what was going on in his body.

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