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12 lessons a fund manager learnt on a wealth road trip

Mark Harries, head of Ravenscroft Investment Management in the UK, and head of sales Laurie Jaques tell us what they have learned from 12 months on the road pitching the company to potential clients.

Last summer, Ravenscroft Investment Management launched two funds into the UK market.

The launch coincided with the appointment of Stephen Lansdown, who co-founded FTSE 100 constituent Hargreaves Lansdown, as chairman of Ravenscroft, of which he owns nearly a third.

The IFSL Ravenscroft Huntress Balanced fund and The IFSL Ravenscroft Huntress Global Blue Chip fund mirror their offshore equivalents.

A year on, with Ravenscroft Group assets under administration having grown 55% to £4.4 billion, Mark Harries (pictured), head of Ravenscroft Investment Management in the UK, and head of sales Laurie Jaques give their views of what they have learnt from their 12-month road trip.

We have travelled 6,500 miles across the length and breadth of the British Isles and met with more than 300 intermediary advisers in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.

As we celebrate our first birthday, it seems rather fun to reminisce and help steer those of you mad enough to want to follow in our tyre tracks.

 

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Last summer, Ravenscroft Investment Management launched two funds into the UK market.

The launch coincided with the appointment of Stephen Lansdown, who co-founded FTSE 100 constituent Hargreaves Lansdown, as chairman of Ravenscroft, of which he owns nearly a third.

The IFSL Ravenscroft Huntress Balanced fund and The IFSL Ravenscroft Huntress Global Blue Chip fund mirror their offshore equivalents.

A year on, with Ravenscroft Group assets under administration having grown 55% to £4.4 billion, Mark Harries (pictured), head of Ravenscroft Investment Management in the UK, and head of sales Laurie Jaques give their views of what they have learnt from their 12-month road trip.

We have travelled 6,500 miles across the length and breadth of the British Isles and met with more than 300 intermediary advisers in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.

As we celebrate our first birthday, it seems rather fun to reminisce and help steer those of you mad enough to want to follow in our tyre tracks.

 

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Silliness

Silly things will happen. We have driven to wrong venues, eaten other people’s food and had cases of mistaken identity (apologies to the man I waved to at the Park Royal Hotel, Warrington, thinking he was our IFA contact).

Laurie is often mistaken for a woman when we book venues online, such as at the lovely Bartle Hall in Preston, and has rather surprised some receptionists.

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Sat Nav fail

You will make mistakes. The VW van we used as our main mode of transport does not run on unleaded; you can easily run out of brochures and marketing collateral as people can turn up unexpectedly, as they did in Belfast; and your target venues are not always so easy to find.

To quote Laurie when he was parked outside the Grosvenor Hotel in Plymouth: ‘You can’t trust a Sat Nav – I have been up and down this road and still cannot see the Grosvenor anywhere!’

But a sense of humour helps – and Mr Jaques, who is often called ‘Jacks’, needs food and refuelling at regular intervals. Meetings can be cancelled last minute, you can get held up in traffic and miss appointments, and sometimes meetings can simply be a waste of time for all parties (rare, fortunately), but humour can help you through it.

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Non-stop

Learning – you cannot stop. We have met fund experts up and down the country and found people’s knowledge is really quite in-depth; we have also learnt where the best curry in Reading is and where the best pit stops on the M1 are.

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Time is precious

People are lovely, but your time is always short. Working lunches work; breakfasts should, but not everywhere and certainly not in winter; and dinners are dead!

It is getting harder for financial advisers to find time for meetings as the level of administration and regulatory requirements such as Mifid II and GDPR takes up more and more of their time.

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The big shrink  

Our industry is shrinking. There is a dwindling number of financial advisers.

From about 250,000 in the days of ‘high street advice’ to the 25,000 individuals today, firms still providing independent advice are decreasing at a time when the need is greater than ever, especially as so many people are now having to contribute to their own pensions.

And distribution is being bought by manufacturing – nearly every week there is news of another asset management firm buying up another financial adviser or wealth management firm, and these movers include the likes of both Standard Life and Old Mutual.

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Client care

You really should care about your clients, as they absolutely do matter.

Technology, information availability and competitive pressures mean you simply must put clients first if you want to succeed.

This focus is certainly very evident in the successful businesses we are lucky enough to be working with.

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Jargon

There is too much industry jargon – DFM, MPS, CIP, alpha, beta, volatility, etc...

Simply making communications understandable (and interesting) to the public should be an industry-wide objective.

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Parking and roadworks

Trains, planes and automobiles. Travel is tiring but technology is helping – think Waze, TripAdvisor, National Rail and Booking.com. Use them to make life easier.

And traffic is getting worse. Try the M6 for parking-cone heaven – a memorable six-hour journey from Preston to the Home Counties proved testament to this giant set of roadworks!

Always allow plenty of time, especially in and around town centres such as Edinburgh, where roadworks and parking can be a nightmare.

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Dodgy hotels  

The UK is beautiful – parts of Yorkshire and Devon are among our favourites. But hotels sometimes look better on the internet!

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Size isn't everything

Size is often important, but not that important. Fund size seems such an important issue, but really should not be when you think how liquid most underlying fund assets are.

Perhaps firms are quietly asking how committed you are to their market?

And always keep performing – performance numbers really do help sell units, but not without service, support, information and meetings.

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Rejection

Cold-calling needs thick skin, and securing meetings is simply hard. One in 70 is the industry norm, which means a lot of time on the phone.

Learning how to cope with rejection is a must – thank goodness we are not all actors who have to deal with this as part of their jobs every day.

Patience is a virtue, and clear communication is vitally important – tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them and repeat.

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Burger therapy

Do not hesitate to ask for help. Whether it is for the name of another firm to visit in the area or simply a good venue to hold events – always ask.

And if you have had a tough day, you cannot beat a burger and chips, perhaps washed down with a pale ale. So get on those phones, hit the road and get out to meetings — you will find our industry is full of great people who are so focused on getting it right for their clients.

We are very much looking forward to more meetings around the UK in our second year.

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