Back in 2000, Michael Bargholz was in Wellington, New Zealand, dreaming of being back in Australia. He wrote a list of the top global investment firms based in Australia that he thought should have a broader reach, and set out to work for one of them.
More than 10 years later he is doing just that, and says he counts himself ‘incredibly privileged’ to have a top spot at Fidelity.
“It’s a company I’ve long admired. I like the private ownership of the investment firm and I greatly admire the mission of putting clients’ interests first and helping them to achieve investment success. I’m very much a values-driven leader so I’m convinced if we put clients’ interests first, assets and profits will follow.”
“I’ve come to Fidelity at an exciting time,” says Bargholz. He is talking about the introduction of new investment services to the Australian market this year, including a Small/Mid Cap fund that has been managed in an internal pilot fund for more than three years, and a bond fund tailor made for the current fixed income environment.
“It’s an important time in markets. It’s an opportunity to relish that we’re nearing a turning point in fixed income markets. There’s an opportunity to serve clients with fixed income products that will have a better chance of weathering the storms that will come in the year ahead.”
Bargholz says there is a shift in global equities too, as investors shift away from choosing geographies, sectors or trying to pick when to get in and out of equities.
“Stock picking will be the new black,” says Bargholz, “And I think in that environment, companies like Fidelity that have hundreds of analysts around the world will have a chance to shine.”
He hopes to build on Fidelity’s reputation for serving platforms and dealer groups, and after being involved in one of the road shows already, is confident the relationship will strengthen. Bargholz is also positive about industry reforms, despite any turbulent politics.
“I think the broad direction and tenor of regulatory change in Australia is to be welcomed. The FoFA reforms are really designed to ensure that clients’ interests are put first, and that merit is the deciding factor on why a fund is recommended.
“While we can debate some of the implications or the pace of the changes, the tenor I think is right and the direction is right. I think we’re on this path as a result of initiatives by the industry, including the Financial Services Council; as a result of the regulators, like ASIC and APRA; and as a result of changes in parliament and I think these are all heading in a similar direction of putting clients’ interests first.”