A message from Chris Cuffe on charity win-win

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Dear Readers

My personal thanks for your interest in Cuffelinks. As we approach 20,000 subscribers and almost two million pageviews, I am using the Cuffelinks contact list to reach as many of our readers as possible, for a win-win cause.

This exception to our usual newsletter format highlights three recent milestones for my charitable venture, the Third Link Growth Fund, which invests in Australian equities via other fund managers (it’s a ‘fund-of-funds’).

I started Third Link in 2008 with a unique idea. What if I established a fund where all the fees received for managing the investments, net of some tiny expenses, were donated to charities. After a long career in wealth management, I felt I had an ability to select good fund managers who could outperform over time. If I could convince the managers and administrators to provide their services for free for a worthy cause, everyone could win.

The results speak for themselves. Over the last four years (we used a different structure and benchmark in the first few years), the Fund has delivered 18% per annum and outperformed the S&P/ASX 300 Accumulation Index by 6.3% per annum.

ThirdLinkTable

The above figures are to 31 July 2016, after fees. Of course, this is not an indication of future returns.

There are three milestones I want to mention.

First, the Fund’s assets recently exceeded $100 million. Many of you may think this is a relatively modest amount for a fund with strong long-term performance. You’re right! Other funds employ sales staff and marketing resources to promote their businesses to financial advisers and the media, but Third Link does not employ anyone. Neither myself nor my fellow director, Ashley Owen, receive any payments from the Fund. We want as much money to go to charities as possible. We do not pay commissions or salaries to brokers, advisers or sales staff, and this means we have no distribution channels or support other than word-of-mouth and a bit of media.

Second, we recently passed $5 million in donations to charities, which are listed here. Despite our low profile, I’m proud that we now generate over $100,000 each month to support children and young adults under the Third Link THRIVE programme.

Third, we have just launched our new website, with more information presented in a fresher and more useful way. Please visit thirdlink.com.au and learn more.

When I started Third Link, I said the Fund would close to new investors at $150 million. Today, I confirm I will honour this undertaking. With this amount, Third Link will have about $2 million to give to charities each year. Also, many of the fund managers have given me a specific allocation and I feel more confident we can continue to perform with this amount.

And here’s a little secret. It is often cheaper to access these top fund managers via Third Link than directly to the managers, as they also waive their performance fees. My thanks to all the fund managers and service providers for their generosity in offering their skills without payment.

I have no idea how long it will take to raise the final $50 million. Inflows have improved since this recent report by Zenith Investment Partners, a leading independent investment researcher. Managing Partner David Wright, said:

“The Third Link Growth Fund has provided investors with exceptional returns as an Australian equity large cap fund since its conversion to a single asset class fund in February 2012. The Fund’s four-year annual performance to 30 June 2016 of 16.90% p.a. ranks it in the top quartile of the Australian Equity Large cap sector (which consists of 119 funds) easily outperforming the S&P/ASX 300 Accumulation Index return of 11.08% p.a. and median manager return of 11.54% p.a.

The Fund has generated this excellent outperformance with significantly lower volatility (9.91% p.a.) than the benchmark (11.93% p.a.) and the median manager in the category of 11.92% p.a. This and the fact the Fund has a history of monthly excess returns in falling markets of 94.12% also demonstrates its capital protection qualities.”

If you would like to invest, please see the Product Disclosure Statement here. At this point, most funds say something about not repeating past performance, and of course, I cannot give any guarantees. But I believe the money is in the hands of some of the best fund managers I know.

Thanks, Chris Cuffe

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10 Responses to A message from Chris Cuffe on charity win-win

  1. Chris Cuffe October 8, 2016 at 12:47 PM #

    Yes.

  2. Jeff October 8, 2016 at 8:22 AM #

    Hi Chris, When the fund finally closes, will existing investors be able to continue investing capital into the fund? Jeff

  3. Phil Brady September 8, 2016 at 3:03 PM #

    At the risk of being howled down given the social benefits of the fund, and I’m not saying don’t invest, I’m just saying make sure you know what you’re investing in. The Fund has a mid-small cap bias. The benchmark is arguably not the correct one given the ASX20 covers a not immaterial % of the ASX300. So the outperformance may just look a bit better then if you use the Small Industrials or the MidCap 50 or a blend to actually mirror the actual portfolio. Either way the absolute performance is good and its a great outcome for charities and a great endeavor by the founders. Also, plenty of research around currently suggesting valuation dispersion between some of the above sectors and value and larger caps are at all time highs, but as always do your own homework.

    • Chris Cuffe September 10, 2016 at 7:40 AM #

      Hi there Phil,

      I note your comments but wanted to clarify a few things about why I think the benchmark is actually appropriate:
      * The Fund can, and does, invest in other funds which are not restricted in the size of stocks they invest in. I am pretty sure that if you ‘looked through’ my fund you would find quite a number of top 100 stocks
      * As stated in the PDS, Third Link has no set requirement to be in any part of the market. It is free to invest in stocks of any size
      * Zenith, who research the Fund and know it very well, insist it be ranked in the large cap part of its surveys
      * The Fund has been invested for many years, including during periods when small/mid caps have been out of favour compared to large caps

      Benchmarks are never perfect as you know. I’m pretty sure if the Fund was judged against other benchmarks (ASX100, 200) it would also come up looking pretty good.

      Regards
      Chris Cuffe

      • Phil Brady September 12, 2016 at 2:29 PM #

        No problem and thanks for the reply. As always it might be in the labeling of funds managers which is problematic anyway. In the fund report I can see 3 to 5 Funds with the label ‘Small Cap’ or Mid Cap or Emerging Companies, or no definition at all meaning they can drift. But the mere name Small Cap tends to mean outside the ASX 100, 200 or 300 for that matter. Currently, 21% of the fund is invested there, hence my comment.

  4. John September 6, 2016 at 9:06 PM #

    Hi, I’d like to invest $1m in the fund. Please send me required documents for my superfund (wholesale investor).

    Cheers, John.

    (We have replied directly to John).

  5. Dennis September 6, 2016 at 9:05 PM #

    Congratulations on such a great concept. That’s why private enterprise thrives. Great result and keep up the good work to support these charitable organizations that need independent business support for their continued work and success.

    Great Job!!

  6. Phil September 6, 2016 at 9:04 PM #

    Chris

    Well done.

    I will be applying for $100k of units this month.

    Thank you for your charity work.

    Phil

  7. Peter September 6, 2016 at 9:03 PM #

    As an adviser, how could I access the fund both personally and for my clients? And can I say you guys are killing it with the newsletter. A great read!

    (We have replied directly to Peter).

  8. Richard September 6, 2016 at 9:01 PM #

    this is great work. i am just in the process of thinking about placing some capital with a third party manager and what a great way to do this. as i am in the final stages of a theology degree its a very good example of capitalism serving a social purpose.

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