Russia trade

Our thoughts are with everyone impacted by the deeply saddening Russia-Ukraine conflict. We wish for peace, human rights and unity to prevail. Please note that since the conflict began, and consistent with our sanctions policy, we have no direct exposure to Russian assets across the ACUMEN Portfolios.

We opened a position in Russian equities in November 2020. The investment rationale at the time was in keeping with our reflation theme across the ACUMEN Portfolios which we had pivoted towards in the preceding months. The Russian equity market is among the most cyclically geared with over half its weighting in the energy sector, followed by financials and materials.

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Equity multiples in the region were trading at a steep discount relative to long-term averages and other markets. Russia’s cheap valuations were coupled with healthy dividend yields making them particularly attractive on a total return basis. The currency had been under pressure but had supportive macroeconomic fundamentals as a tailwind with a current account surplus, a very low debt burden and strong fiscal discipline.

The fundamental case for the position was there but we also wanted to assess the price action through a technical lens. The MSCI Russia equity index, relative to the MSCI Emerging Markets, fell out of its six-year trading range in late 2020, so we set an alert for when it re-entered the range as a potential buy signal.

Similarly, we also looked for a bullish indicator on the currency, RUB/GBP, relative to the JP Morgan Emerging Market Currency Index. With the macroeconomic, fundamental and technical outlook all pointing in the same direction, we opened a position. Our investment thesis played out over the course of the year with Russian equities rallying ahead of its peer group. As part of our risk management, we set stop losses and take profits based on technical levels as well as daily volatility monitoring; any alerts would trigger a fundamental review of the position.

As November approached, the position came off its relative highs versus the MSCI EM. Geopolitical tensions rose as Russian troops built their presence on Ukrainian borders. While we by no means envisioned the devastating events that would unfold, we were cognisant of the rising geopolitical risks and real threat of sanctions.

We took profit on the position exactly one year and one day after entering it as we believed the risk-adjusted return potential had shifted to the downside. A profit of just under 30% was booked in absolute terms and approximately 25% relative to the broad emerging market benchmark.

Senior Portfolio Manager – Equities
Sekar is responsible for managing the team’s equity investments.

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Paul Hunt

CEO

Paul Hunt is a proven business leader and entrepreneur with over 30 years’ experience and track record of scaling businesses across multiple sectors. Hunt is highly experienced in business turnarounds, strategic planning and creating a positive people culture geared for success.

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David Chandler

Portfolio Assistant

David is responsible for providing operational support to the fund managers. David has passed the CFA UK IMC and graduated in 2018 with a degree in Economics and Business Management from the University of Sheffield.

James Peel, CFA

Portfolio Manager – ESG

James is a Portfolio Manager at Titan Asset Management and is responsible for Titan’s approach to sustainable investing. He previously worked as a researcher at the British Chamber of Commerce in Taipei. James graduated in 2018 from the University of St Andrews, where he studied economics. He is a CFA charter holder and has passed the CFA UK Investment Management Certificate (IMC), the CFA UK Certificate in ESG Investing, and the CFA UK Certificate in Climate and Investing (CCI).

Jonah Levy, CFA

Portfolio Manager – Physicals

When not collecting various minerals and mining memorabilia, Jonah can be found managing the physical allocations at Titan Asset Management. Prior to Titan he worked at Tavistock Wealth for 3 years, having previously gained experience in Holland at an oil brokerage, and in London at an energy trading house. Jonah is a CFA charter holder, having graduated from St. Andrews University with an MA in Management and Economics.

Alex Livingstone, CFA

Head of Trading – FX & ETFs

Alex is responsible for the ETF trading and FX strategy at Titan Asset Management and has executed over £5 billion of trades during his prior 4 years at Tavistock Wealth. Alex also assists in the wider portfolio management of the CIP specialising in technical analysis and risk management. He is a CFA charter holder and holds an BSc in Retailing, Marketing and Management from Loughborough University.

Sekar Indran, CFA

Senior Portfolio Manager – Equities

Sekar is responsible for managing the team’s equity investments. He helped expand the investment proposition over five years at Tavistock Wealth and continues this role at Titan Asset Management. Sekar has prior financial services experience at Barclays and Allianz. He is a CFA charter holder and holds a BSc degree in Industrial Economics from the University of Nottingham.

John Leiper, MSc, CFA, FDP, CFTe

Chief Investment Officer

John Leiper is the Chief Investment Officer of Titan Asset Management and carries direct responsibility for all investments in the Centralised Investment Proposition (CIP) at the firm. John has 15 years’ experience in financial markets having previously worked in a variety of roles at RBS, Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse and Tavistock Wealth. John Leiper is a CFA and FDP charter holder and a member of the Society of Technical Analysts. He holds a BSc degree in Economics from Warwick University and an MSc degree in Economic History from the London School of Economics.

Matthew Cureton

Co-Founder

Matthew has been an intrinsic part of Haibun (now Titan Alternatives) since its formation. As a Co-Founder, he has focused on developing relationships with clients, providers, and companies seeking funding.

Matthew’s personal involvement with the fund-raising activities at Titan Alternatives starts at the very beginning of each journey.

Incorporating the due diligence process, meeting with the various management teams, and visiting companies on site, to then being involved with the marketing documents, hosting presentations, and facilitating the investments for clients. Matthew also continues to monitor and report on the investment throughout its life, which has included him taking on Non-Executive Directorships or observer roles on various company boards.