Quickfire Q&A: Wellcome Trust's Robert Coke

The head of absolute return and buyout investments at The Wellcome Trust reminds GPs that LPs are looking for a partnership, and that ‘short term greed can destroy a long term relationship’.

What issues keep you awake at night?

“Liquidity has driven asset prices up and presumably the withdrawal of it will take them down; tapering is therefore a concern. But our portfolio is designed to generate cashflows in all circumstances and we would hope to be in a position to take opportunities as they come – as we did in 2008/9.”

What surprised you most in 2016?

“Brexit and Donald Trump. Globalisation and the disruptive power of technology is unsettling many people. Those of us in a position to take advantage of the opportunities need to remember to balance the pursuit of profit with the common good, or risk having neither.”

What’s the biggest challenge in 2017?

“Finding attractive investments and appropriate structures for them. We have taken to setting up funds of one that allow us to compound capital in regions which we think offer opportunity.”

Which are the most promising regions and strategies in 2017 and why?

“From a private equity fund perspective we continue to favour the US where the markets are deep and the ecosystem is supportive. We will be looking for sector specific managers there.”

What’s your one piece of advice for GPs?

“Remember LPs want a partnership and that short term greed can destroy a long term relationship.”