Mark Bird, an independent financial advisor from Chester wins £10,000 top prize in the F&C Fantasy Portfolio Competition
7th April 2011
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After more than seven months of competition, the F&C Fantasy Portfolio Competition drew to a close on 30 November.

With the aim of providing both entertainment and education about F&C’s fund range, the game was targeted at active private investors as well as the financial adviser community.

The outright winner of the £10,000 top prize was Mark Bird, an independent financial adviser, who with his wife Andrea owns and runs Chester
Financial Associates, an IFA business based in the North West.

Mr Bird’s 9.41% return over the game period put him comfortably at the top of the leaderboard, nearly 3% ahead of his nearest rival. He occupied first place for much of the competition having accurately timed his switch from a cautious strategy to a more speculative one.

When asked if his success was down to pure luck, skill or a combination of the two, Mr Bird said: “ I do follow the markets and macroeconomic developments very closely. Although luck certainly played some part, keeping abreast of market information, making bold asset allocation decisions and pure gut instinct allowed me to ride more of the ups than downs. Running an IFA practice that works with individuals, small business owners and trustees, it is imperative that I understand the bigger picture in order to help my clients build, manage and protect their wealth.”

Mr Bird’s portfolio was very cautiously positioned in the first few weeks of the game, as he felt markets wereoverly optimistic given the uncertain global economic situation. Although his portfolio lagged the leaders and
he missed the initial stockmarket rise during this period, adopting a low-risk strategy propelled him to near the top of the leaderboard within a couple of months.

He adds: “As soon as the Greek bailout had been agreed, I took this as a ‘buy’ signal and began to take a much more speculative position by investing in
emerging markets.”

Having initially invested in F&C’s range of money market and bond funds, including the F&C Ethical Bond and Strategic Bond funds, Mr Bird moved into more speculative areas including the F&C Latin American Equity fund, Russian Investment Company and F&C Global Smaller Companies investment trust.

“It was about taking a decision after markets had fallen not to take a middle-of-the-road position, but to invest in more speculative funds that would be more geared to economic recovery,” he says.

Although he rarely traded at the start of the competition, Mr Bird says that after a couple of months, he was starting to adjust his portfolio more frequently, and in the last two months was trading daily, to help keep ahead of the chasing pack.

“I guess it’s very different from how real fund managers run their portfolios,” he

“In the fantasy world you can take bigger bets – if it comes off then great, but if it doesn’t you may lose a few places in the competition, but no real money.”

Despite his commanding position throughout, he kept his success to himself until the competition had finished.

”I didn’t want either myself or my wife to get carried away with the prospect of a £10,000 windfall until it was in the bag. Of course, the family were thrilled when I made the announcement. My 5 year old son immediately said ’Does that mean we can buy a Wii now Daddy?’!”

You are welcome to contact Mark on


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Paul D

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Chester word of mouth specialist, promotes and markets the best businesses in Chester. Passionately supporting local businesses, organisations and events.

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