In the past, a public house was somewhere you went for a decent pint of ale and maybe a packet of crisps, writes Suzie Bliss. While some of these establishments still exist, although few and far between, most of the capital’s more recent pubs feel the need to offer ‘fruity’ ciders, wasabi peas and heaven forbid if their menu offers sharing plates. Let’s be honest, fish and chips is a dish that must never be shared.
When choosing his venue, investment director Nathan Delaney did consider the usual watering hole for the Brooks Macdonald clan, which fits happily into the first type of pub. However, he decided against it: ‘Our local only does beers and crisps. I thought we might need to eat something a bit more substantial given today’s election.’
This was how we found ourselves at The Portman, a stone’s throw from Marble Arch, on election day.
Delaney greeted us at the table with a fresh pint of Sagres and given the rising level of apprehension for the result of the election, the occasion definitely called for a glass of Chilean sauvignon.
In hindsight, it was well deserved.
Delaney has been at Brooks Macdonald for more than a decade. Eleven years ago, he was working in business development for a law firm in Kent when he saw the job advertised in the Times while he was on the train and applied.
‘I joined in 2006 and have been deemed a “lifer”,’ he said. For the last eight years he has looked after the alternatives sector.
‘Anything that isn’t long-only is typically sent my way,’ he explained. ‘I started out in fixed income, alongside Jonathan Webster-Smith, which provided me a great grounding and also showed how much I needed to learn.’
Looking at this tricky sector has been a learning curve. ‘In the alternatives sector, you have to kiss a lot of frogs. If you can’t explain it simply to yourself or to an average client, then don’t buy it.’
Brooks Macdonald can only buy products in Ucits format, focusing on daily dealing and an ever-greater attention to fees.
‘Incentive fees is a trend I’ve seen go out of fashion, but now they seem to be coming back as people want their funds’ interests to be aligned to their own.
‘Being able to negotiate fees is an important aspect of fund selection and now this is permeating the alternatives sector. Gone are the days of just accepting fees, there is now a debate and that’s really healthy.’
My gently rumbling tummy told me it was time to order: a whopping great fishcake for me and organic Scottish salmon for him.
Delaney is also, alongside Jonathan Fletcher, responsible for Brooks’ trainee scheme.
‘It’s certainly been an interesting five years, with the “millennial” generation coming through and wanting to make an instant impact. Sometimes that’s difficult in any career, but within the business there are roles in areas such as research where that’s possible from day one.
‘Our scheme is up there with the best. We make sure our trainees have heavy involvement with external sources,’ he explained.
The scheme runs across all of Brooks’ offices, but recruitment is done on a team-by-team basis. Trainees are hired by offices that have the capacity to expand their team. This is often an excellent opportunity, particularly in the regions.
‘On the trainee side, the impression is the world seems to revolve around London, although you’re often more at the coalface in regional offices. These have close contact with clients, introducers and fund managers,’ he said.
One attraction of Brooks Macdonald is also the inclusion of investment managers in different parts of the process, including investment research, portfolio management and client relationship management.
We were tempted by another glass of the good stuff, but valiantly opted for coffee instead and Delaney eloquently summed up the fundamentals of this industry:
‘Wealth management is about the long term; building your knowledge, your book and yourself.’
Glass half full:
‘Brexit: we’ve got the people to make the most of it.’
Glass half empty:
‘Kids TV, I’ve lost control of the remote control at home!’