Chris Judd: “Outsized gains come when acting differently from the crowd”

Hedge Funds Club’s Stefan Nilsson caught up with AFL player turned fund manager Chris Judd in Melbourne. “My grandparents were interested in stocks and I think some of that rubbed off on me. “

During his AFL career, Chris Judd was among the best Australian football players. Chris twice won the league’s highest individual honour, the Brownlow Medal, and was a dual Leigh Matthews Trophy winner as the AFL Players Association’s most valuable player. He was also a premiership captain, having captained the West Coast Eagles to the 2006 AFL Premiership. Chris was selected in the All-Australian team six times, including as captain in 2008. Chris was a professional AFL football player for 14 years before becoming an analyst for a venture capital fund. He has since operated as a private investor, where he has successfully capitalised on his keen macro insights since 2015. The Cerutty Macro Fund is an extension to the investing framework Chris has been using in a private capacity since 2015. He served on the boards of Jaggad between 2016-2019 and Carlton FC between 2017-2021.

How did you get interested in investing?

I bought my first shares when I was 16 and got a small amount of money from the AIS for a junior sporting program I was a part of. Whilst neither of my parents had much of an interest in investing, my grandparents were interested in stocks and I think some of that rubbed off on me. Being competitive by nature, I’ve always enjoyed the binary nature of investing – you’ve either won or lost on each trade depending on the profit/loss of the position. There are no participation awards, just a scoreboard that never lies.

Since last year, you have been managing the Cerutty Macro Fund. Tell us about the investment strategy.

We call ourselves a macro fund as our idea generation stems from long-term, secular, macro trends. We then express those ideas through long-only equities and whilst the majority of our positions are listed on the ASX, we can invest in listed securities all around the world.

Was your hometown Melbourne the only place you considered as a base for your fund management business? What are the pros and cons of running a fund from Melbourne?

Melbourne is my home, whilst I had six years in Perth in my twenties, home has always been here. One of the things that is important in running a fund is the broker network that you build up over time and us having our roots in Melbourne, it makes sense for us to set the business up from here.

Managing one’s own money can be quite different from managing other people’s money. Why did you decide to start managing money for external investors?

I had been investing in listed equities full-time for six years or so while helping my parents with their investment/retirement plans. It became evident that the most fulfilment I got from investing was when there were other people to share the journey with. As a private investor, I’ve also had an analyst with me since 2019 so to give him a chance to be a part of something bigger was important as well.

You host the terrific YouTube show Talk Ya Book, interviewing leading Australian minds. What’s the thinking behind this show?

The show has helped to build out my network with other Australian fund managers. The show forces me to look at a stock that may not have been on my radar each week. It gives me a chance to see how other investors build out their investment framework. It’s very easy to get stuck in your own echo chamber as an investor and Talk Ya Book is a good reminder for me that there is more than one way to skin a cat.

You are one of a growing list of former world-class athletes who have moved into fund management. What skills have you brought from your AFL career into fund management?

I think learnings around high performance and incremental gains have a strong cross-over between professional sport and investing. Also, understanding that there is comfort in preparing the same way as other athletes or being in consensus views as an investor, but the outsized gains in both fields come when you are acting differently from the crowd.

Chris Judd Invest – YouTube