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The asset allocator diary: David Coombs

A week in the life of David Coombs, head of multi asset at Rathbones, week commencing 12 February

Days of the week


In the first of a new series, PA Adviser takes a walk in the life of David Coombs, head of multi-asset at Rathbones, who diarises his week at work.


At my desk by 07:45 with cup of tea and bowl of porridge, before London opens. Review all portfolios and early morning broker emails on latest results and rating changes.

After 08:00 I sell the Rathbone Multi-Asset Portfolios  (RMAP) holding in Vodafone. We’ve lost conviction in management’s ability to increase returns on capital through asset disposals. Despite the recent fall in the price, our process dictates if we are not willing to add then we must sell the entire position.

At 09:15 the multi-asset team discusses the weekend news. Trump’s name increasingly gets mentioned. We discuss how we might reinvest the proceeds from the Vodafone sale. Agree may need to trim some US tech holdings in the afternoon given recent strength.

14:00: Meeting with fixed income and equity teams to discuss company meetings/results from the previous week and any trades.

14:30: Trim Nvidia and Shopify across most funds.

16:30: Daily team wrap.


Pre 09:00: Review portfolio positions – add to SSE in portfolios where recent flows had diluted our position below minimum size discipline.

12:00: Meet with design agency to review our communications’ collateral to ensure it remains relevant and appropriate. Don’t want to add to the noise.

Lunchtime: US CPI surprises at 3.1% versus 2.9% expected. US yields rise, especially at the front end of the curve. The 10-year moves above 4.25%, our target for adding to our position, so we do across all the core funds.

Afternoon: US equities fall across the board. We add to Zoetis (animal pharmaceuticals) to finish building our position.


08.00: Assess the impact of yesterday’s movements. It is at times like this that you rely on your investment process to ensure emotion does not interfere with your decision making. UK inflation comes out below expectations at 4%. FTSE 100 up – this job is never easy.

Lunchtime: Chair the meeting of the ACT DE&I project team. We are reviewing all policies surrounding this subject to ensure we attract and develop the best talent. Agree content for presentation to all staff on progress.

14:oo: ‘Costa’ Meeting, an  informal team meeting out of the office to escape from the screens and challenge our thinking. All team members encouraged to think the unthinkable. Today we looked at the chances of a shock Fed rate rise.

16:oo: Met with my mentee from another asset management firm. We met through CityHive’s excellent mentoring programme for women and ethnic minorities.


First thing: Check AUM – £6.3bn. Do this every morning. It is a quick common sense check for any possible price feed issues but also a reality check. It helps avoid complacency, one of the biggest risks in investment in my opinion.

Still in earnings season – my least favourite time. Tomra up 23%, Sony down 6%. The short-term volatility of earnings season can create fantastic opportunities. Sold Tomra entirely in RMAP and add to Sony tomorrow. RELX numbers look ok – phew.

14:00: Annual review of the fund proposition. Are the target returns still achievable for the risk budgets in place? Yes.

16:00: Fortnightly meeting of entire Rathbone Asset Management investment team to pass on relevant information. Discussion around jobs data in the US. Margins are improving – are jobs being cut? Has the recent buoyant jobs data been a misdirection?


07:30: US retail sales came in low overnight. Indices ended higher. Interestingly, big tech down so big rotation with financials and REITS the best performers in the portfolio overnight.

08:00: Europe opens in positive territory. Could be a quiet day for trading.

09:30: Team discuss the ‘bench’. We always have four or five equity names ready to enter the portfolios at the right time. Also consider buying more protection on the S&P 500.

14:00: Meeting with sell-side analyst to review the case for Rentokil following the profit warning last year relating to the integration with Terminix, which it acquired in 2022.

16:00: Team meeting to review the week and plan for next week.


Start the day with cup of tea (builders) and The Times. I always turn to the Comment section first. Janice Turner for common sense and Giles Coren to raise spirits.

Listen to the Graham Norton show in the car to Cirencester. Saturday is market day, so I pop to Cilla’s stall. She makes the best gluten free cakes I have ever tasted. I find out she has recently become a grandmother and so is not taking on new customers but will still make my Christmas cake.

A walk in the afternoon followed by watching Maestro in the evening. Didn’t love it. Can’t help thinking just as it is better to separate the chair and CEO functions, it would be wise to separate director and lead actor.


Tea and The Sunday Times – this time Matthew Syed for analysis and Camilla Long for a waspish takedown of something or someone. Don’t always agree with her but it is extremely entertaining.

Finish papers, then it is a weights session in the garage. My personal trainer is travelling around Australia for three months but has left me 25 session plans. She checks in with me each week to ensure I am making progress. So, no cheating.

In the evening we go to the cinema to watch the National Theatre’s recording of Dear England with Joseph Fiennes. Really good but the Harry Kane character is the highlight for me – comedy gold.


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