(Pictured above: Tony Yousefian, left, Alex Foster, right)
When I first met Beckett Asset Management’s (BAM) newest portfolio manager, Tony Yousefian, we discussed Iran and its history, something Yousefian is well versed in, writes Alex Foster.
Despite my extremely limited command of Farsi, I had proudly exclaimed my knowledge of mahi (fish) and panir (cheese) and my ability to count all the way up to the giddy heights of 10.
As I meet Yousefian again today, at the aptly named Iran Restaurant in Mayfair, I am keen to know more about the man himself, and equally keen to avoid ordering myself a meal consisting of a combination of seafood and dairy.
Gratefully, Yousefian knows just the thing to eat: Khoresht E Bademjan (beef and aubergine stew), saffron rice and sabzi (fresh green vegetables).
As we tuck in, he tells me how he entered the wider finance industry.
‘I came into the industry sort of by mistake. I fell into it almost,’ Yousefian jokes.
‘I finished my economics degree in the early ‘80s, and I was looking for a job, as you do whilst home in Lincolnshire. I came across a postcard in a job centre that said “sales associate wanted for an insurance company” – earning £400 a month.
‘I had a couple of days’ training, I was given an information packet to take with me, and there I was, a 21-year-old, selling life and pensions insurance policies with only a weekend’s training and not having had a job the week before,’ chuckles Yousefian.
‘No wonder the financial services industry has so much regulation these days – and rightfully so,’ he adds.
‘Strangely, being so young, I wasn’t really aware of the stigma surrounding selling insurance, so my keenness to get out and talk to people meant I made a lot of sales early on,’ he continues.
‘But after 18 months or so, my real interest in the job was wanting to see what actually happens with the money people were paying into these policies’.
Yousefian ended up setting up a number of businesses after that. He then merged with Steve Turton Financial Services, where he served as investment director.
In 1997, he joined the portfolio management team of Smith & Pinching in Norwich. In 2003, the firm rebranded to OPM Fund Management, before being sold to City Financial 10 years later.
Then, in 2014, Yousefian set up his own consultancy firm, where FundCalibre became one of his clients and where he still retains his consultancy role.
Despite all this, he fell into the job at BAM in similar fashion to his original insurance sales role.
‘I bumped into Samantha Owen, who I’d known previously, on the train down to London,’ Yousefian explains.
‘She said that BAM were looking for a portfolio manager and I joked, “I’ll come see you”. The next thing I know is that I was in their office for an interview.’
‘But as soon as I walked into the office, it felt homely and comfortable. I liked their culture immediately. You can just tell clients are at the forefront of their business.
‘Believe me, over the years I’ve experienced some very different firms and have had some dark days, but I could not help but feel that BAM were akin to my values immediately.’
With BAM securing an experienced recruit such as Yousefian, I’m keen to know what his plans are at the firm and how he can take it to the next level.
‘We really want to put BAM on the map, because BAM deserves to be there. OPM were way smaller than BAM and they were on the map,’ he says.
‘We also want to have higher conviction in our calls going forward, which, with the additional resources I bring with my experience and backing of FundCalibre, should make us better informed and help our decision making process.’
As we pay the bill and step out into the rain to go our separate ways, I leave safe in the knowledge that big things lie ahead for BAM with Yousefian at the heart of the firm’s investment proposition.