Investment research

Case study: Vittorio Lavioso

Joined in 2020 after studying Economics and Finance at the University of York

What does your job involve?
I currently work in the Health Innovation team, which involves looking for companies that we think will create transformational improvement in the global healthcare industry. We view companies over a time frame of five years or more and try to assess their potential to grow in that time. I became particularly interested in a US software company called Doximity that offers a ‘LinkedIn’ platform for healthcare professionals.

What’s your personal approach to the work?
Different teams have different approaches, but the main driver is that we all want to deliver returns for our clients. In the Health Innovation team, we have a list of ten standard questions we ask of every company we research. It’s about using that research to build confidence and conviction in your own opinions first, then spreading that to the team. But it’s important to stay humble too and appreciate that there are things you don’t know and that your opinions may be challenged.

What specific processes do you use to assess companies?
Amongst the areas we want to build understanding and conviction on, company culture is a paramount one – we want to gain conviction that it is effective and differentiated. This leads to thinking about things such as, ‘what is the company’s talent retention rate?’, ‘is there a strong management team in place?’, ’how does the CEO think and what are their long-term aims?’ and ‘what is the company’s competitive advantage?’. How you go about delivering the answers to the questions is up to you, and it was up to me to find the right sources of information for my research.

What are the timescales like for completing your research?
I first heard about Doximity in January in a colleague’s presentation. Then, after discussions with the team, I carried out my first piece of in-depth research. In May, we went on an investment trip to the US and met the Chief Strategy Officer and Co-founder of Doximity. I also attended a conference in San Diego where I was able to learn about trends in the sector and speak to healthcare professionals about their challenges. Then, after gathering more opinions from fund managers around our investment floor, and another meeting with my team, the decision was made to take a position in Doximity.

What kind of support did you receive?
The people here are always willing to carve out time for you, no matter how senior they are. Last year when we were all working remotely, lots of companies were coming to market and it was a really busy time for everyone in the firm. Despite this, when I asked for weekly catchups with the partners and senior managers who lead my team, they found the time. Everyone at the firm sees you as an investment and they spend time supporting your development and increasing your understanding of the role.

How did you balance your research project with the other responsibilities of your role?
I always like to have more than one piece of research on the go. So, if I’m getting stuck on one, I can look at something completely different for a while. At the same time as thinking about Doximity, I was also researching BillionToOne, a company that makes genetic tests. A portfolio manager asked me to look at this over a short ten-day period, as the company were looking to release more shares in a series C round to help them grow. During my research period, I was also studying for my CFA level 1 exam, which required a considerable amount of work. On an ongoing basis, I’m also always looking to bring fresh ideas to the team and help build new contacts.

What skills do you need to excel in your role?
The learning curve is steep when you first start. Expectations are high, and the people around you are working at a high intellectual level. You’ll be asked lots of questions about your work and you need to be able to think about topics deeply and articulate your arguments clearly. I’m in the office from 9 to 5, but outside that time I’m still reading and thinking – working to gain new ideas and different perspectives on things. Passion and enthusiasm are important, as they’re what gets other people interested in your ideas. But you also can’t take it personally if your ideas don’t make it into the portfolio.

Life at Baillie Gifford

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