Tim Woolley co-founded Polar Capital back in 2001 with the plan to grow the London boutique to about 12 stock picking fund management teams - a decade later, they have just one to go.
Despite its growth since 2001, it has not all been easy for Polar.
Early in 2008, it decided to close its Asia ex-Japan traditional fund, and absolute return Technology and Asian Lotus funds, after lacklustre performance. Woolley acknowledges the closures, saying for independent asset managers performance is paramount.
The same year, Polar moved to wind down its Paragon hedge fund after Julian Barnett left for personal reasons, and it did not gate hedge funds in the crisis. Losses plus crisis-period redemptions saw total assets fall from $3.8bn in mid-2007, to $1.5bn by March 2009.
Woolley has no regrets – “it was painful because of redemptions, but it pays off afterwards in terms of building your integrity”. Polar seemed vindicated by a 71% bounce-back in assets to $2.5bn the following 12 months.
Polar also since grew its product range. As well as HIM and EM expansion, in November it added a concentrated, Ucits IV compliant North American equities portfolio under ex-Threadneedle duo Andrew Holliman and Richard Wilson.
Holliman brings 14 years of investment experience to Polar, including 10 on US equities. Wilson’s 12 years’ investing includes seven alongside Holliman.
Polar also recently announced a Ucits IV-compliant, European market-neutral strategy after Ton Tjia, Bradley Reynolds and the $15m fund they ran at Ratio Asset Management became available to move. Tija has over 30 years’ investing experience.