25 years and counting: How this “market animal” has consistently beaten the benchmark

Matthew Kidman

Centennial Asset Management

It's been 25 years since the first days of Ausbil Investment Management, and Executive Chairman, CIO and Head of Equities Paul Xiradis is still one of the first to arrive at the office. 

The self-confessed "market animal" lives and breathes investing. But few know the making of X, as he is now universally known. 

The eldest son of Greek immigrants, Xiradis always knew the value of entrepreneurial spirit - having keenly watched his father run several fish shops growing up. While Xiradis admits these years were "never easy", they instilled in him a desire to one day run a business of his own. 

"I was an ok student, I wouldn't say I was outstanding. But equally, I didn't have a lot of time to devote to my studies either. I was helping out the family businesses most afternoons and weekends. In fact, all weekends were spent helping the family," Xiradis recalls. 

"So when I left school, it was an opportunity for me to really excel and work for myself in the sense of achieving my own results." 

And excel he would. Xiradis, unlike many Australian fund managers today, has truly worked his way up the ranks of the industry. He started out as a bank teller and would go on to gain experience in nearly every facet of finance - including personal banking, investment property, equities, fixed income, and broking. 

Unsurprisingly, this early education has shaped the investor Xiradis is today. For instance, during the crash of 1987 (Black Monday), when several of Xiradis' colleagues left him "holding the baby", he grasped one of investing's greatest lessons. 

"I learnt that you really want to be managing the portfolio rather than the portfolio managing you. And what I mean by that is if you are forced to sell, or the liquidity or quality isn't there, it just ends in disaster," he says.
"I have never been able to achieve it since, but I outperformed the benchmark on a 12-month basis by over 30% because I was invested in quality [companies] and no penny dreadfuls."

This focus on quality, on both top-down and bottom-up analysis, has helped Xiradis and the Ausbil team achieve truly eye-watering returns over the past 25 years (his flagship fund has beat the benchmark by more than 2% since 1997) - and has transformed $10 million of seed funding into a nice $15 billion in funds under management today. 

In the final episode of SAMIS, you'll learn all about Xiradis' journey from Bankstown to Sydney's Grosvenor Place, as well as some of his best learnings from a career of consistently beating the benchmark. 


TIME CODES

0:00 - Intro
4:19 - Early life
8:06 - Early exposure to business
10:13 - Challenges growing up
12:52 - Unconventional career beginnings
15:50 - Mentors in finance
18:38 - Lessons from the crash of ‘87
24:05 - Striking out independently
30:20 - Early days of Ausbil
36:15 - Growing pains of Ausbil
41:32 - Portfolio management lessons
46:17 - Future of Ausbil and Paul

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Matthew Kidman
Principal and Portfolio Manager
Centennial Asset Management

Matthew is the Principal and Portfolio Manager at Centennial Asset Management. Prior to this, Matthew was the CIO at Wilson Asset Management between 1998 and 2011, achieving 18% p.a. over the period.

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