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Pub Club: With Tcam's Mark Little at De Hems (sort of)

Pub Club: With Tcam's Mark Little at De Hems (sort of)

Imagine this: you have worked on the Wealth Manager publication for five months, and have repeatedly dished out big talk about how Pub Club is the feature you were destined, if not born, to write. You then forget to take a photo with your interviewee, and realise afterwards that you have not asked the ‘glass half full/empty’ questions either. You can probably see where this is going, writes Ian Horne.

This week’s interview is with Tcam’s Mark Little, who may well be photographed outside of his local in Edinburgh, rather than De Hems Dutch Cafe in central London where we actually had the pint. Upon meeting in the trendy bar, joined also by Wealth Manager’s Katie Gilfillan, we set about the surprisingly tough task of finding a beer that might not knock us out.

After perusing an intriguing mix of Dutch Trappist beers, and various craft ales with ominous prefixes such as ‘double’ or ‘triple’, we settle on a 5% IPA and start discussing wealth management.

Having said that, we do not shift from discussing percentages. Tcam’s performance of late has been ‘outstanding’, to quote Little, who compares a 2% loss for Tcam portfolios in January and February, relative to the 10% dip suffered by many others in the market.

‘Preservation of capital is the main mantra,’ he explains, commenting that put options, placed against some of the leading developed market indices, have been taken out in client portfolios. He also notes that asset allocation is presently well spread. Safety first is a recommendable strategy in De Hems, and it may well be in this mature bull market too.

Conversation then turns to 7IM’s recent purchase of Tcam.

‘It feels more like a merger,’ says Little. Seeing as both firms bring something different to the table, Little is convinced that the buyout is a smart piece of business.

‘It’s a fantastic deal for our clients and we’re excited about it,’ he says. 

Building on from this client-centric remark, Little makes it clear that quality service has become an essential trait for a successful wealth management business. ‘Clients will generally be with you for the long-term, but they’ll leave if you drop the ball on service.’

Little points out that service is one of Tcam’s biggest strengths, but pulls his punches slightly to avoid being overly sentimental. ‘I know it sounds fluffy, but people have forgotten what the business is all about,’ he says.

‘In some respects it’s all about saying please and thank you.’

Differentiation is another reason to focus on service. ‘There are probably too many wealth managers out there,’ observes Little. ‘It’s a reasonably commoditised business, and we all offer a relatively similar service.’

Therefore, Little puts forward the ‘people buy people’ argument. ‘This profession isn’t just about the returns. It’s about long-term intergenerational relationships, and from the client’s perspective it’s about the personality of the person sat across the table from you.’

Glass Half Full:

Wealth management gives you the opportunity to become the trusted adviser for whole families, entrusted with one of the most important things in their life, their wealth.

Glass Half Empty:

We need to be careful that we do not over regulate and impose unnecessary governance on our industry, which curtails brilliant minds from doing what is right for their clients.

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