Meet Lucy Morris

Who is Lucy Morris?

I’m a fund manager in the Global Smaller Companies team at Columbia Threadneedle and together with Sam Cosh manage European Assets Trust (EAT). I’ve been at Columbia Threadneedle since 2007, originally joining the performance team before moving to work in European Smaller Companies in 2011.

Why EAT? What is it about the trust that you find the most exciting?

European Assets Trust is a unique and exciting vehicle within its sector, offering investors access to the potential for the strong capital returns that high quality European small and mid cap stocks can deliver as well as attractive levels of income. The ability to fund the dividend out of both capital and income allows us to look for the best stocks available across the universe without being constrained to only investing in those offering a high yield. This makes it a very appealing trust to work for as I believe it delivers what investors want (income) without compromising on the type of stocks held to obtain it, in my opinion it offers the best of both worlds.

I have always found smaller companies the most interesting area of the market, the chance to identify a small nimble, market leading, truly excellent company that the rest of the market has yet to discover is hugely exciting for me as a fund manager. I really like to research companies where you can more easily see the tangible benefits of great operational management, where capital allocation decisions have more immediate effects and the drivers of profitability are clear. It is one of the great privileges of the job that we get to interact with some of the best and most dynamic management teams and entrepreneurs across Europe and speak about how they will deliver strong returns in the future for our shareholders. As already alluded to, the space also comes with the advantage of analyst coverage deteriorating the smaller a company is, which offers stock pickers like ourselves the perfect opportunity to take advantage of poor information levels to buy great businesses at discounts and watch that close as the business delivers on its potential and others begin to recognise it.

Do you have an interesting fact about yourself?

I represented Ireland for Lacrosse at five Home Internationals, two European Championships and one World Cup. It was a huge honour to play for my country at these events and I loved every second of it, even when we ended up playing 8 games in 9 days in record breaking hot temperatures in Canada for the World Cup in 2013.

Its hard to write about it without sounding a bit schmaltzy but it is an incredible experience to sing your national anthem (even with my terrible voice) in front of a crowd of fans and then play a sport you love against the best of the best from around the world.

What have you learnt during 2020?

This certainly has been the strangest year yet of my career. Clearly its been a very challenging year for everyone mentally and I sincerely hope we can return to the normal living and working conditions safely sooner rather than later. However, from a professional viewpoint its actually been a fascinating time for investment and the market correction in late February/March provided us with a huge opportunity to buy some excellent businesses at very attractive valuations. We had been patiently waiting for such an event and although we wish it hadn’t taken place for the reasons it did we still wanted to act decisively and quickly, utilising research on companies we had done historically but not added into the portfolio as we were not comfortable with the valuation levels they were trading on.

I’ve learnt that in investing patience will pay off and your opportunity will come but you need to able to separate yourself from the panic and despair of stock markets declining rapidly when it does. You have to make rational decisions to see the long term opportunity for capital appreciation you are being presented with and invest. It’s also taught everyone I think that we can all be adaptable, both people and businesses have had to overcome wholesale changes to their usual daily routines, which would have seemed daunting and almost impossible prior to the pandemic but have been achieved during it.