While macro influences are part of the decision-making process, the managers are very much bottom-up investors seeking to identify those firms where corporate self-help “resonates”. This is vital in the early stages of a recovery in emerging markets, where many investors have been burnt.
Langridge says: “We are increasingly seeing companies that have come through the challenges of recent years. They are stronger and their balance sheets are stronger.
“A lot of their weaker competition has been decimated and so they are in a position to consolidate market share.”
Encouraged by Boston-based global chief investment officer Chris Conkey, Langridge says that she joined Manulife on the promise of being tasked with building a long-only global emerging markets equity business from scratch.
“That Manulife is a powerful brand in North America, Canada and Asia gives us great confidence. But Manulife is a three-legged stall with considerable as yet underdeveloped potential in the UK and Europe.”
It seems a matter of when, not if, the team will be able to raise Manulife’s profile and assets in UK, and it is hard to imagine that greater fund choice will not be welcome in the next cycle of emerging market growth.