Premier Miton Investors' CEO Mike O'Shea talks to Richard Romer-Lee about merging two companies, what active managers need to do to survive and thrive and the most extraordinary thing he has seen...
How did you get into the industry?
It was so long ago. I left university in 1984 with a degree in economics and wanted to go to London. I responded to an advert for what I thought would be an investment job but which turned out to be a sales role at Porchester Group. I learned lots but it wasn't for me. In 1986 I joined Premier, which was then an IFA firm - and I have been at the same business ever since.
In 1988 we started to market a unit trust portfolio management service to financial advisers and it soon became clear that having an adviser business and a growing asset management business in the same group was difficult, so we parted company with the IFA. In the mid-1990s we reversed the company into an AIM listed company, and subsequently bought Brewin Dolphin's unit trust company. How things change.
What does your role as CEO of an asset manager involve?
There are lots of parts to my role. I'm a great believer in delegating and allowing people to do their jobs and deliver - interfering or being a control freak is not my style. I try to get the best out of the team and don't have to be involved in everything - we couldn't grow in that environment. I have to set the culture, tone and allow good people to deliver against their objectives.
As an independent, UK client focused business, we are close to the coalface and to our clients - including financial advisers and wealth managers - and we are always trying hard or trying harder to win and retain business. It's brilliant and exciting. For us, the next opportunity ahead is to take the business from £11bn to £20bn whilst focusing on delivering for clients and attracting new talent.
What makes the perfect marriage of companies?
It's all about a cultural fit. I was hugely impressed as we got to know Miton - their culture is very strong and not dissimilar to ours. Beyond that, a strategic fit is important. The fund management and distribution teams were broadly complementary, with little overlap, and there is the opportunity to harmonise the operations side of the business. The people in each business recognised fellow travellers on the same journey.
This all helped result in a rather swift merger. The advisers to the business were good, and we all recognised that these things can be demanding and take up a huge amount of time, which could damage the business if drawn out. It was a case of do it quickly or not at all.
What do active managers need to do to survive and thrive?
ESG is a massive opportunity, and one where active fund managers have a big part to play in providing good outcomes for customers in a way that's durable and sustainable. Investors will expect their money not only to give the outcomes they hope for, but to have a positive impact.
I fear for investors who have bought cheap products where it may well be harder to achieve attractive returns over the next five to seven years, particularly by the time you have added in platform and other charges. Active fund management needs to stand up and be counted, with the right credentials and competitive pricing.
What's the most extraordinary thing you have seen?
I'm old enough to remember the 1987 stock market collapse, but the financial crisis was remarkable. It really did look on some occasions like the whole thing was going to go down the tubes. People were wondering if the banks would open. Nothing seemed to have a value and most, if not all, metrics were not working. On reflection, such times are interesting to live through.
What advice would you give to someone starting out today?
There are no easy answers. You have to work hard. When I see youngsters going the extra mile, I find it really satisfying. It's unbelievably depressing seeing people doing the bare minimum. Of course, it's also important to remember that there's more to life than work.
You can read more Talking Withs here
Financial advisers have just three weeks to sign up to one of PA's five regional Multi-Asset Roadshow events it will host around the country.
Should advisers be educating clients to take more risk to reach their objectives or should they encourage a more cautious approach? Claire Tyrrell spoke to couple of advisers and a compliance expert about how they broach the topic of risk with their clients......
While multi-asset has burgeoned in recent years its popularity is not a new phenomenon. Cherry Reynard talks to M&G's multi-asset team founder, Dave Fishwick, about how he has guided the team's philosophy over the 30 years since its inception...
There are many good reasons for using DFMs, but it seems like bespoke forms of investment are only for clients with a lot of money to invest. Claire Tyrrell speaks to a few advisers to see if that is the case for their firms...
Early stages of development
In this piece Paul Resnik bemoans the fact there are still no rigorously-tested standards for risk tools that enable advisers to make a fully informed comparison about providers, arguing there tools in the market that use 'gamble' questions and those...
13.4% achieved above-average returns
14 upheld FOS decisions