About us

Touchstone Asset Management (Touchstone) is an Australian equities manager, with an index unaware approach to investing in quality companies at reasonable prices. Established as a joint venture with Bennelong Funds Management in July 2015, Touchstone is majority owned by highly experienced principals Jack Chemello, Suellen Morgan and Mary Feros.

The team manages the Touchstone Index Unaware Fund, which was launched on 4 April 2016.

Our Team

Jack Chemello Investment Director & Principal

Jack Chemello

BFA (Hons), CA

Jack is an Investment Director and one of three Co-founders of Touchstone Asset Management. Jack is responsible for portfolio construction and investment strategy. He has over 20 years' experience in both domestic and international equities markets, previously having held a number of senior buy-side roles including Portfolio Manager, Co-Head of Emerging Equities and Senior Equity Analyst.

From 2003 to 2012 Jack held various roles including Portfolio Manager Australian Equities at Pendal Group Limited, where he was responsible for approximately $2 billion in funds under management (FUM). In this role Jack was directly responsible for portfolio construction and stock selection. Prior to that, he held the role of Senior Equities Analyst with responsibility for a number of major domestic sectors including Banks, Diversified Financial Services, Media, Utilities and REITs.

From 2002 to 2003 Jack was Co-head of Emerging Companies at ING Investment Management and was jointly responsible for the management of over $1.6 billion in FUM.

From 1997 to 2002 Jack held various roles at Bankers Trust Australia, including Global Sector Head Healthcare, and prior to that Equities Analyst (North America) with responsibility for Banks, Non-Bank Financials, Media, Entertainment and REITs.

Jack commenced his career at Arthur Andersen Sydney, where he completed the Institute of Chartered Accountants’ Professional Year Program and received admission as a Chartered Accountant (CA).

Suellen Morgan Investment Director & Principal

Suellen Morgan

BCom

Suellen is an Investment Director and one of three Co-founders of Touchstone Asset Management. Suellen is responsible for portfolio construction and investment strategy. She has over 20 years' experience in domestic equities markets including senior investment management and broking roles.

Her most recent role was Portfolio Manager and Executive Director at 452 Capital, where she played an instrumental role in building the business from early inception into a successful and highly profitable funds management brand. In this role, Suellen was jointly responsible for investment decision-making across the Australian equity market, achieving consistent medium-term outperformance.

Prior to joining 452, she was an Industrial Equities Analyst at Colonial First State, with responsibility for a number of major domestic sectors including Banks, Insurance, Diversified Industrials and Beverages.

Suellen has also worked as Head of Financial Services Research at Deutsche Bank Australia, where she led a team of five analysts responsible for the financial services sectors (Banks and Insurance), achieving top three ratings in investor surveys in both sectors. Prior to this role, she was Equities Analyst at Ord Minett Securities (now JP Morgan) with responsibility for the Insurance Sector.

Suellen commenced her career at Arthur Andersen Sydney where she completed the ICA’s Professional Year Program to become a Chartered Accountant.

Mary Feros Investment Director & Principal

Mary Feros

BCom, F Fin, CPA

Mary is an Investment Director and one of three Co-founders of Touchstone Asset Management. Mary is responsible for portfolio construction and investment strategy. She has over 20 years' experience in domestic equities markets, previously having held a number of senior buy-side roles including Investment Director and Portfolio Manager.

Mary’s most recent role was Portfolio Manager Australian Equities at Advance Funds Management, where she was responsible for oversight of over $6 billion in funds under management. In this role, Mary was instrumental in constructing and overseeing the Advance Australian Multiblend large cap and small cap equity portfolios, as well as the Westpac Staff Superannuation Fund Australian equities portfolio.

Prior to joining Advance, Mary was Joint Investment Director at 452 Capital which involved constructing and managing Australian equity portfolios. She was also jointly responsible for investment decision-making across the Australian equity market, achieving consistent medium-term outperformance.

Her deep knowledge of Australian equities was cultivated in her roles as Portfolio Manager for ING Investment Management’s Australian Equities Portfolio and for IAG’s Australian Equities Portfolio. Prior to these roles, Mary also worked at Westpac Investment Management and CBA Financial Services as a Senior Portfolio Manager.

Mary graduated from the University of New South Wales with a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting and Finance, and has worked in the finance industry since 1984. Mary is also a Fellow of the Financial Services Institute of Australasia (FINSIA).

Ron Sargeant Investment Analyst

Ron Sargeant

BCom, GDip App Fin, CFA, CPA

Ron has 20 years of experience in finance, having worked in a variety of positions in Australia and Asia in funds management, equity research, investment banking and the FMCG industry. He is one of three Investment Analysts supporting Touchstone’s Portfolio Managers.

Prior to joining Touchstone, Ron was Head of the Hong Kong and China Equity sales desks with Barclays, based in Hong Kong. He also spent time in Singapore with MIR Investment Management managing long only and long short portfolios. He was directly responsible for coverage of the Asia Pacific Consumer, Materials, Industrials and Conglomerates sectors, and was also a Member of the Portfolio Management Committee for MIR Asia.

Before moving to Asia, Ron held senior roles with Morgan Stanley and Macquarie Bank in Sydney where his coverage included the Consumer, Diversified Industrials and Transport sectors.

Peta Arnott Investment Analyst

Peta Arnott

BEc, BCom (Hons)

Peta has 18 years’ experience in the financial industry. Most recently, Peta worked as an Equity Research Analyst at Merrill Lynch covering resources and energy. Prior to this, she worked at 452 Capital as a Senior Investment Analyst covering the Resources, Energy, Utilities, Transport and Media sectors.

In an earlier role, Peta worked as an Equity Research Analyst at Morgan Stanley and Merrill Lynch covering the Australian Media sector.

Graduating with honours in economics from the University of Melbourne, Peta began her career working at the Reserve Bank of Australia for two years, first in the International Division as the European Economist and later as a foreign exchange dealer.

Blake Dowsett Investment Analyst/Dealer

Blake Dowsett

BBus

Blake has 19 years' experience in the investment management industry, working in trading, equity analysis and portfolio management roles in Australia and the UK. He has covered a broad range of sectors including Financials, Industrials, Consumer Discretionary, Utilities and Technology.

In his most recent role, Blake spent five years working as an Investment Analyst and Dealer at Five Oceans Asset Management covering Global Technology and Industrials. Prior to this, he worked as an Equity Analyst and Portfolio Manager at Hunter Hall, helping to run over $1.5 billion of internationally invested assets. Blake started his career at BT Investment Management as an Equities Dealer, and later as an Equities Analyst specialising in US Financials.

Blake has a Bachelor of Business from the University of Technology Sydney.

Chris Thomas Associate Investment Analyst

Chris Thomas

MBusEcon, BA, CFA

Chris has six years’ experience in the investment management industry. He joined Touchstone as an Associate Investment Analyst and Dealer following completion of an internship with the business. His most recent role was Assistant Portfolio Manager with BT Investment Solutions, where he gained experience as a multi-manager allocator and qualitative fund researcher in equities, alternatives and fixed interest. Prior to this he worked as an Analyst at Advance Asset Management.

To find out more about our team, please contact us.

Methodology

Investment philosophy

Touchstone’s investment philosophy has three core tenets.

  • The Australian equity market is risky due to its high concentrations: the Australian equity market is far more concentrated and therefore riskier than its overseas peers. Our equity market’s unique composition results largely from the disproportionately high weighting of its top 10-15 stocks. The risk is mirrored in the majority of Australian managed portfolios (both active and passive), which also contain significantly higher levels of risk due to their index-based construction.
  • Quality is not appreciated over time: quality companies tend to generate more enduring returns over time, however we also believe that quality is often under-appreciated. Over time equity markets consistently undervalue higher quality businesses, also leading to the mispricing of securities.
  • Markets are not efficient: central to our investment philosophy is the belief that markets are not efficient. Although the Australian equity market is relatively efficient at pricing consensus expectations for companies’ future earnings, market expectations can often be wrong, resulting in the mispricing of securities.

Touchstone was expressly formed to take advantage of these market inefficiencies through:

  • an index unaware approach to investing and allocating capital based on an equal weighted benchmark;
  • a bias toward investing in quality businesses at reasonable prices; and
  • implementation of a proprietary fundamental investment process focused on factors indicative of risks to consensus earnings expectations.

Investment style

Touchstone’s investment style can be described as Quality at a Reasonable Price (QARP). Our approach to investing is predicated on the careful consideration of both investment risk (quality) and expected return (price). It produces portfolios that are style unaware and could include both value and growth stocks, depending on the risk/return trade-offs available across our universe of stocks at any given time.

Touchstone’s natural bias is toward investing in higher quality companies, particularly those with sustainable dividends if available at reasonable prices. We believe this strategy leads to improved longer-term investor returns, whilst also providing significant downside protection in adverse markets.

Investment process

Touchstone’s investment process combines bottom-up fundamental analysis with top-down risk mitigation, and an unconstrained approach to capital allocation – where portfolio positions are based on the risk/return trade-off inherent in each opportunity, rather than index weights. Our proprietary capital allocation and risk management tools support construction and management of portfolios consistent with our style as a QARP manager.

Our investment process incorporates the following stages:

  • Stock risk assessment: individual risk (quality) scoring conducted for stocks based on our multi-factor assessment framework. Pre-screening excludes stocks that fail to meet minimum gearing and other hurdles.
  • Forecasting and valuation: in-depth understanding of industry and business prospects translated to financial forecasts and expected returns for all stocks over our investment horizon.
  • Market and economic risk management: proprietary top-down risk management framework used to independently cross-check bottom-up stock analysis as well as manage market and economic risks.
  • Portfolio construction: we allocate capital based upon the risk/return trade-offs across available investment opportunities, with regard for market and economic risks.