crypto strategy

13 questions to Suzima Abu-Zarin of Canada Life AM

In this series of short profiles, we ask top fund managers to defend their investment strategies, reveal their views on cryptocurrency, and tell us what they would never buy.

Our interviewer this week is Suzima Abu-Zarin, LF Canlife UK Property ACS fund manager at Canada Life Asset Management.

Which sector shows the greatest promise in 2022?

In this current environment, looking through the lens of real estate, rather than specific sectors, it is important to focus on identifying assets that demonstrate their adaptability and sustainability. The hybrid work culture is here to stay and as more employees seek to establish the work/life balance that is right for them, it is essential that the spaces they use continue to be adaptable and can be reused. This will put them in the best possible position to be able to capitalize on future opportunities.

What is the greatest economic risk today?

In today’s world, it is difficult for me to single out a single economic risk. We are currently experiencing global uncertainty due to (but not limited to) soaring inflation, Russian invasion of Ukraine, Covid-19, potential conflict between China and Taiwan and of China’s evolving role on the world stage. Along with all of this, we may already be feeling some of the irreversible effects of man-made global warming. All of this will have an impact on the built environment and how it adapts.

Describe your investment strategy

Our philosophy is to seek consistent investment returns from balanced and consistent portfolios. We seek to invest in value-added opportunities and actively manage assets to enhance income streams and enhance capital value. Our ESG approach is also an integral part of our strategies. We are committed to taking an environmentally responsible approach and have committed to achieving net zero by 2050 or earlier.

Which famous investor do you admire?

Ursula Burns. As CEO and President of Xerox, she was one of the first black women to serve as CEO of a Fortune 500 company. I have great admiration for not only her work ethic and professional accomplishments, but also for his passion for community and support for equality.

Name your favorite “Forever Stock”

Gilead Sciences for a mix of ethical and sustainable reasons. As a biopharmaceutical company, it has a long-standing commitment to the fight against social inequalities and often works with people who are victims of stigmatization. Commitment to ethical and sustainable practices can also generate strong investment results. Prove that stocks can be valuable without simply existing to make a profit.

What would you never invest in?

Honestly, everything I don’t understand. If I can’t understand the underlying value, I won’t invest.

Growth or value?

Both are important. From my point of view, we need both elements to ensure success. This rule applies not only to investment, but also to life. Growth and value must work together to ensure that we achieve quality success.

House or Pension?

Both again! Both obviously carry an element of risk, but investing in both means you can diversify your risk.

What do you think of crypto?

For me, it is currently too volatile. It’s hard to see the underlying value and the lack of regulation makes it an increased risk.

How can we increase diversity in fund management?

Encouraging diversity of all kinds, whether of race, gender, economic background or ways of thinking, must be led by example with visible support from the highest level. Everyone has different strengths and weaknesses and a diverse team will be able to capitalize on the strength of different opinions and viewpoints.

Have you ever engaged with a company and been particularly proud (or disappointed) of the outcome?

As a fund manager for a real estate investment fund, I’ve been really impressed with some of the management agents I’ve worked with and their hands-on approach to integrating ESG, improving profitability and efficient energy management. A few were really willing to think outside the box and come up with new solutions or ideas. Some have even put beehives on the roof to support biodiversity!

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Quite simply, “to get, you have to give”. By investing in understanding your colleagues’ lives outside of work, you recoup that in spades. If you want respect, you’re going to have to give respect.

What would you be if you weren’t a fund manager?

Before I had kids, I probably would have said pilot because I always liked numbers, creative problem solving, and worked well under pressure. Since I became a mother, I would sincerely like to concentrate entirely on this “role” with my two junior colleagues!


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