Doomsayers are selling Britain short, says top fund manager

Tom Dobell, manager of M&G Recovery, believes the UK has plenty to offer investors during the recovery.

Ian Cowie

Don’t get Tom Dobell started on bankers. The manager of M&G Recovery, a £6bn fund with 100,000 investors, tells me: “I am astounded at the way banks have abused their taxpayer guarantee. They have behaved atrociously and have done a huge amount of damage to our country.

“Some of these people have behaved disgracefully. It is amazing what you find out about in fund management. You get to see the best and worst of human nature; sometimes on the same day. HSBC is the only bank I would cross the road for. It is conservatively capitalised and its management has more integrity and corporate culture than the rest of them put together.”

Mr Dobell’s scorn is quite different from the populist claptrap produced by politicians almost every day (yes, Vincent, I mean you). During a lost decade in which the FTSE 100 index of Britain’s biggest shares fell by 15pc, M&G Recovery more than doubled investors’ money.

So the opinions of its manager about who is to blame for the mess we are in and the prospects for Britain’s economic recovery – or the risks of a double-dip recession – are better informed than most. He recently celebrated his tenth anniversary at the helm of the flagship fund of M&G – the company that introduced unit trusts to Britain – and emphasises that he buys or shuns individual shares rather than backing an economy.

But this usually quietly-spoken farming man from Somerset is emphatic that the pessimists are wrong and that those who believe them are not only selling Britain short but missing major opportunities to make money.

Speaking before this week’s better-than-expected gross domestic product (GDP) figures eased fears of economic stagnation, he said: “Detractors are ten a penny and, unfortunately, a lot of people see the glass as half empty but I am pretty optimistic and believe there are great opportunities for some British companies.

“We look to identify unloved businesses with honest hard-working managers, good strategies and the cashflow that comes from that. The aim is to buy low, when they are being bashed from pillar to post, and then sell high when they have bounced back.”

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