258. Varun Laijawalla of Ninety One: Emerging Markets Unpacked

Varun Laijawalla is a Portfolio Manager at Ninety One, where he manages long only EM and EM ex-China portfolios.  He started his career as a consultant and moved into stockpicking via Asia focused sales.

Our conversation starts with his international background, which saw his family move from India to Holland when Varun was only 4 years old, and the imprint that that multi-cultural yet well-integrated backdrop provided. We hear then about his career journey, which saw him move from management consulting into investing via a serendipitous meeting and reading material, which encouraged him to “follow his dream”.

A move to Hong Kong followed, and a career in emerging market investing unfolded, with all of the travel, variety and intellectual stimuli that such a career would suggest. We discuss the features of emerging market investing, the rout that it has experienced over the past few years and the increased investor interest in emerging markets ex-China portfolios.

Finally we reflect on some of the most insightful investor letters that Varun has enjoyed receiving because they provide insights as to how to think. We return to the exhortation to “follow the dream” and examine what makes it worthwhile.

Series 3 of 2024 is supported by Ruffer and Nuveen. Ruffer is a London based asset manager – founded in 1994 – managing over $25 billion for institutions, pension funds, charities and individuals. They have a single investment approach that aims to deliver positive returns across the full range of market conditions.  Nuveen has provided investment excellence for 125 years. With expertise across income and alternatives, Nuveen continues to expand its capabilities while maintaining its legacy as a leading investment manager. Visit Nuveen.com to learn more. Investing involves risk; loss of principal is possible.