Episode 25: Fidelity’s Alva Devoy

Molecular Engineering, Robo Advice and Retirement

Alva Devoy is Managing Director Australia for Fidelity International. Alva started out her career as a molecular engineer, developing vaccines, but the Iraq War made her change her mind about her path and she switched to asset management. She talks to MarketFox columnist Daniel Grioli about the business of asset management, robo advice and the quest for the retirement holy grail.

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Overview of podcast with Alva Devoy:

4:00 As a market strategist you are standing on quicksand. It is the most uncontrolled environment.
4:40 How does research in finance differ from that in science?
5:45 Started out as a pharma analyst.
9:00 As an analyst your models are your safety blanket
10:00 The real art is in finding the why behind the data points
11:30 Coming to grips with the perversity of markets
14:00 Mentors
15:30 Self-actualising; make sure you don’t neglect all the other aspects that make up you
17:00 Pulling information towards you is harder in Australia because of distance
19:00 The advantage of using the ebb and flow of labour in Australia to our advantage is incredible
20:30 When I got to Australia I thought I was going to be a hotshot, but the investment expertise in Australia is phenomenal.
22:42 What advice would you give for people in a leadership role?
24:30 Don’t transfer your view of success unto other people
26:45 You don’t become a leader because you are a subject matter expert anymore. It is about finding experts
34:00 What does a high-performance culture look like?
37:45 Pension funds should really approach investments from a total portfolio level
40:00 This bull run has felt miserable; no one felt confident
43:30 At what size does stock picking become irrelevant?
46:00 What is the problem with favouring boutique fund managers?
48:00 Within Fidelity we have different factories
48:45 Are fund managers just asset gathers?
50:00 Passive + active; but all ecosystems need to be in balance
52:00 The mix of active and passive is like cordial: the water is free and you add concentrate to taste
55:00 Will big tech companies enter asset management?
58:00 Selling today is a mix of product placement and client servicing. Product flogging is dead.
1:00:00 How many true partnerships could we have in Australia? Five.
1:01:00 Retirement; why don’t we see more innovation?
1:03:00 The relatively low impact from the GFC on Australia has kept risk appetites high
1:05:00 Fidelity hires former State Plus Head of Research Richard Dinham to design what retirement looks like for Fidelity
1:07:00 Risk profiling is dangerous.
1:09:00 Robo advice is great, but you do need outside expertise to make sure your investments point in the right direction
1:12:30 Three tips for better investment decision-making
1:16:00 You can’t legislate against human behaviour
1:17:00 If you don’t understand something, even if it is the next best thing, stay away from it.

About the [i3] Podcast

The [i3] Podcast is a conversation with some of the leading institutional investors around the world, discussing their philosophy towards investing, in particular towards portfolio construction and investment strategy. The [i3] podcast is available on iTunes, Google Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher or your favourite podcast platform.