Its European fund favours small to mid-size companies Fidelity Investments, a United States-based asset management company, underscored its experience and investment know-how when it clinched four awards at the SCMP Fund Manager of the Year Awards 2003. Fidelity, no newcomer to the awards, continued its dominance of the Best Equity Europe award by winning the five-year and 10-year categories for the performance of its European Growth Fund. The fund has a bias away from the market heavyweights and towards small and medium-sized companies. In 2002, Fidelity bagged the same awards in the the three-, five- and 10-year categories. The company also won the Equity Japan award under the 10-year category for the performance of its Japan Fund for the second time in a row. For the first time, Fidelity won the TMT Global award under the three-year category for the performance of its Technology Fund. The secret, says Douglas Naismith, managing director of Fidelity Investments in Hong Kong, is consistency. 'You would expect that from a company with a huge in-house research team like ours,' he says. Servicing more than 19 million private and institutional investors worldwide as of last December, Fidelity pours a lot of resources into developing in-house research. 'We are a research-driven company and that is our investment philosophy, quite simply. You need a big in-house research team to attain the consistency. You need to know what companies you want to hold and want companies you do not want to hold - you need to know both sides of the coin,' Mr Naismith says. Fidelity's research-based investment philosophy is the result of more than 50 years' experience of managing money and is based on the identification of fundamental value in stocks, says Mr Naismith, who is also the firm's regional head of institutional business, Asia-Pacific excluding Japan. In identifying value, Fidelity places emphasis on the detailed analysis of companies, including their assets, cash flow and business and trading environments. Fidelity believes this approach provides better returns over the longer term. Mr Naismith believes an in-house research team allows the firm to produce original fundamental analyses that include company visits at each Fidelity location. Generating sound, thoroughly researched investment ideas is 'crucial' to Fidelity's achievement of outstanding performance, he adds. In addition, Mr Naismith attributes the success of Fidelity to recruiting, training and motivating employees of outstanding ability and to encouraging 'individual initiative'. 'We tend to grow our own [talent],' he says. 'A lot of fidelity managers started out as trainee managers and have worked up through the company.' He believes that growing your own talent 'keeps the company culture very strong. There are a lot of years of apprenticeship to be served in Fidelity.' Rigorous screenings of new analysts also contribute to a strong team, Mr Naismith points out. 'It is a very torturous process.' Rewards are appropriately given. 'It makes the working environment highly meritocratic and highly competitive.' However, the most important edge that Fidelity gives new investment professionals, he says, is a mentorship scheme. 'It gives them an insight and skills from someone who has already gone through this.' Infrastructure also plays an important role in Fidelity's success. 'Building the right infrastructure is immensely important today.' Mr Naismith says there is much information that needs to be exchanged today. 'Fifty years ago, we were much smaller teams. Today, information is coming every second and you need to make sure all that information is available to the right fund managers.' Building the infrastructure to do that is crucial, Mr Naismith says, adding that Fidelity makes use of the internet to support 'cross-border checking and the ability to swap notes with your peers elsewhere'. Any fund manager will have all these parts of infrastructure, says Mr Naismith, 'but it helps if you are a large company with a big budget'. Fidelity spends 'billions of dollars on technology', he says.