Ex-Odey manager Lait challenges 'complex' AR sector

By Laura Dew, Investment Week

Odey Atlas fund been renamed

Former Odey AM manager Freddie Lait has restructured the absolute return fund he brought with him to start-up venture Latitude Investment Management, as he believes the long/short structure is no longer suitable for the vehicle. 

Originally known as Odey Atlas, the fund has now been renamed Latitude Horizon and is a long-only diversified growth product, targeting an absolute return with low volatility.

Lait (pictured) previously ran the fund in this structure for three years at Odey before it became a long/short vehicle in 2014. 

Now running his own firm - Latitude Investment Management - he has chosen to switch it back to being long-only as he feels this is a better option for investors.

Lait said: "This is a better strategy as it has lower turnover, no macro calls, lower fees and strong fundamental analysis. You can achieve better returns without the need for being long/short."

Latitude was set up earlier this year and Lait managed to complete the process in around seven months, despite the drawn-out regulatory process involved.

"I was previously running the fund at Odey but it was not a strategy they wanted to champion. But this is a fast-growing sector which is clearly in demand and it was a great opportunity to launch my own company and be a credible contender," he said.

"It has been fun but very challenging. I first spoke about it in April and have been very lucky by being well supported. The regulation was hard but it is not insurmountable. Finding clients has been difficult but we are gaining traction."

Lait benefitted from being able to bring across his fund from Odey and the firm also backed him as a minority investor in Latitude.

Following the Financial Conduct Authority's Asset Management Market Study and its criticism of absolute return funds, Lait highlights his fund does not charge a performance fee.

Going forward, Lait believes his fund is scalable, targeting investors who reject the complexity of rival absolute return funds and want a product they can understand.

"We are singing the mood music of the current market environment. We have ambitions to grow and build out the team, and we expect to make hires over the next few weeks."