How did your early career decisions lead to your first portfolio manager role? Are there any particular influences or formative experiences that you would like to share?
I started my career right out of college as a credit analyst in Philadelphia. I didn’t major in finance, so the first couple of years were definitely a learning experience! I was very fortunate to have managers that were invested in teaching me and helping me develop as an analyst. The most influential career decision I’ve made was to move to London 2010. I had no idea how it would go and several people told me I was taking too much of a risk, but it was the best decision. I learned so much about how to evaluate markets on a global scale, how different types of investors think, and how to integrate ESG factors into the investment process.
In terms of specific people, I worked for a portfolio manager in London (hi David!) who without a doubt was the biggest influence in how I developed as an investor. I knew how to analyze companies and industries, but I wasn’t necessarily good at knowing how to make money investing in them – he really helped me fill in the missing pieces and to start thinking like an investor.
What is the best advice you have received and what advice do you have for young women aspiring to be portfolio managers?
There were a couple times in my career where I wasn’t sure I was experienced enough for a new role – the best advice I received was “just go for it!” You could possibly fail, but if you are motivated to succeed then it’s more likely that you will rise to the challenge, learn what you need to learn and do just fine.
On a similar note, the best piece of advice would be to say “Yes” to new opportunities. Job offer overseas? Take it. Opportunity to work with a new committee or new team? Take it. New Project? Say Yes. I’ve found the most growth (personally and professionally) comes when you’re slightly uncomfortable and over your head.
What are some of the most challenging demands that a portfolio manager encounters and how do you overcome them?
For me, the most challenging part of being a portfolio manager is being confident and decisive in my investment decisions, while continually evaluating them in light of new data or other opinions. The more you learn, the more you realize what you don’t know, so I think it’s a tricky balance between being confident in your views while being humble enough to realize when they should be changed. I don’t know if this is something you can ever “overcome,” but time and experience definitely make it easier!
What attracted you to Lord Abbett and the Climate Focused Bond Fund?
I moved back to the US in 2017, and at the time Lord Abbett was expanding their global investment capabilities so it really was a perfect fit for me in terms of my experience meshing very well with the firm’s existing strategies and global growth plans. I also really love the energy and culture of the firm – my colleagues are very smart and driven, which drives me to perform better. The Climate Focused Bond Fund was launched a couple years after I joined the firm, and I was very fortunate to be able to be involved in the fund launch process (a new experience for me!). It’s been a great combination of working for a successful, established firm while still having the entrepreneurial aspect of developing new products.
How is your day to day career contributing to a better world?
While my career is not nearly as impactful as those in medical or public service sectors, being involved in the ESG space has been a wonderful way to combine investing with impact. Encouraging the issuers we invest in to become more sustainable, whether by reducing waste or treating their workforce better, will hopefully lead to positive change.
As a portfolio manager, do you have a preferred news source that you read on a daily basis? What do you particularly like about it?
I’m on Bloomberg all day, so that’s where I get most of my news. It’s fast and pulls in stories from many different sources. I also make sure I check international news sources like the BBC since stories can sometimes be reported differently in different countries. Since launching the Climate Bond Fund, I also use many more thematic news sources, like Responsible Investor or Renewables Now.
What do you enjoy most about working in the financial services industry?
It’s never boring! Every single day there are new challenges and new decisions that need to be made – it requires me to be continually learning and improving.
If you could do any other job full time, what would it be and why?
I’m a former athlete (fencer) who’s passionate about health and fitness, so I’d most likely be a coach!
What are you most excited about in 2021?
Professionally, I am really looking forward to seeing how the Climate Focused Bond Fund grows & evolves and to increase my involvement in the sustainable finance market. Personally, I am very excited to be able to travel again and see all my family members around the world.
For more information about the strategy Annika manages and to read some important disclosures, click here.