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Gatekeepers: how to pitch to 12 leading trustees

How to get your foot in the door with these leading gatekeepers

John Reeve is head of consulting at Premier. He advises clients on a whole range of topics including the appointment of new advisers.

Premier is an award winning employee benefit consultancy offering a new approach to the whole range of services needed by trustees and employers in running their employee benefit packages.

How best to pitch

People buy people. Make sure you engage with trustees. Show you understand what they are looking for and their level of knowledge. Spend time finding out about them and what they want.

How not to pitch

Don’t waste time promoting your company and telling the trustees about you. If they didn’t think you could do the job you would not be in the room. A focused presentation that shows that you understand what is needed is better than coming ‘prepared for all eventualities’.

Likes

Tailored presentations that show time has been taken to understand the needs of the trustees are good. You should also think about how you will explain difficult concepts and present ideas in a way trustees understand. 

Dislikes

Presentations that are clearly ‘off the peg’ will show a lack of real interest in the prospect. Too much information (even if it is in an appendix to the main presentation) and bad timekeeping are also disrespectful to the audience. Don’t overrun!

Final word

Use the time that you have well to show that you care about the prospect and can deliver what they want – not just investment performance.

What do you look for in a wealth manager?

On a scale of one to five where five is the greatest

Relationship - 4

Past performance - 4

Reporting - 4

Size of firm - 2

Strength of process - 2


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Louise Wickens is a private client tax director in James Cowper’s Reading office, where she leads the team and advises a wide range of clients.

James Cowper LLP is one of the Thames Valley’s leading firms of accountants and business advisers and has offices in Newbury, Oxford, Reading, Southampton, Henley and London. The firm’s private client tax team offers expert advice to both UK and non-UK domiciled individuals and families, in relation to trusts, tax efficient investments and planning to minimise tax exposure. Its private client base includes entrepreneurs, property landlords, professional partnerships, farm and estate owners and other high net worth individuals.

How best to pitch

Be prepared and make sure any necessary research has been completed in advance of the meeting. Avoid jargon as this can lead to a lack of understanding from the client. Advisers should see things from a client’s point of view.

How not to pitch

Turning up unprepared and providing generic advice that is not tailored to suit the client. Don’t assume if a client doesn’t understand certain concepts that they are at fault – a lack of clarity in the advice might be the cause.

Likes

Teamwork, honesty and integrity, as they are essential when providing comprehensive advice. Having a detailed understanding of clients’ ultimate goals is crucial to providing best advice.

Dislikes

Advisers who do not fully explain the risks associated with certain types of planning advice or investments. Advisers who don’t listen to their clients as this can often result in clients becoming involved in investments or planning they don’t really understand.

Final word

Developing strong relationships with clients is the key to providing best advice. James Cowper LLP believes this to be the basis of its success as its aim is to become a ‘trusted adviser’.

What do you value in a fund manager?

On a scale of one to five where five is the greatest

Relationship - 5

Past performance - 2

Reporting - 3

Size - 1

Strength – 4


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Andrew Shaw is a partner at Kingston Smith LLP and specialises in personal tax work which encompasses estate and general financial planning, as well as general income and capital gains tax advice. Additionally, he jointly leads the firm’s Private Client Group, co-ordinating a wide range of services for individuals.

Kingston Smith LLP is a top 20 accountancy firm providing the full range of services to entrepreneurial businesses, not-for-profit organisations and individual clients. Most of our commercial client businesses are managed by the people who own them. Through our many years' experience of dealing with owner-managed businesses, we understand how entrepreneurs think and the stages in which their businesses develop.

How best to pitch

Do your homework and know your audience; then deliver a tailored pitch that demonstrates how your expertise and experience will specifically meet the trustees’ needs.

How not to pitch

Don’t spend the whole time blowing your own trumpet and then present a ‘one size fits all’ portfolio at the end; it’s lazy and boring. Managers who don’t listen to the trustees’ requirements in the context of the beneficiaries are missing the point.

Likes

Managers should be able to demonstrate a proven track performance and present clear reporting structures to evidence their achievements. While hard to elucidate, good personal chemistry is hugely valuable – never underestimate the power of a ‘gut feeling’.

Dislikes

The use of jargon can be irritating; managers should resist the temptation to try to blind trustees with science. A lack of flexibility in responding to trustees’ requests is also frustrating.

Final Word

The manager leading the pitch should be the same person who will ultimately manage the portfolio. When you’re buying into a service based around people and trust, you want to know who you’re going to be dealing with.

What do you value in a wealth manager?

On a scale of one to five where five is the greatest

Strength of process - 2

Past performance - 3

Relationship - 5

Reporting - 4

Size of firm - 1


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John Taylor is an investment fiduciary and provides financial planning advice to trustees and private clients with investable assets of at least £250,000.

The firm is committed to following a prudent process for the management of investment decisions. It has developed a bespoke software solution for this purpose to ensure consistency is observed at all times. We pride ourselves on having a clear understanding of the fusion between financial planning advice and investment management.

How best to pitch

The financial world is full of overcomplicated products that obfuscate charges and risk. Keep it simple. Maintain a high degree of transparency, along with a clearly defined mandate and investment process.

How not to pitch

Don’t talk jargon or skate over the surface of what’s at stake: other people’s money. Be prepared to answer hard questions regarding investment philosophy and the merits between active and passive management techniques.

Likes

Investment managers with a clearly defined strategy and low charges who track targeted asset classes. It is vital investment decisions are based on sound scientific evidence devoid of emotion and market noise.

Dislikes

Managers who constantly chase returns by ramping up risk, changing asset allocation frequently or increasing portfolio turnover to appear top of the league tables.

Final word:

Life is about people, along with maintaining one’s character and integrity, not sharp suits and talk.

What do you value in a manager?

On a scale of one to five where five is the greatest

Strength of process - 5

Past performance - 2

Relationship - 1

Reporting - 4

Size of firm - 3


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Sharon McKie is a partner at McKie & Co (Advisory Services) LLP. She is a solicitor and chartered tax adviser specialising in the taxation of private clients.

McKie & Co is a flexible alternative to the taxation advisory services of the Bar, providing bespoke advice to solicitors, accountants and other advisers of private clients throughout the country and overseas, covering all of the taxation issues which face such clients. Smaller and medium-sized firms gain a private client specialist ‘partner’ whom they may call on when needed. Larger firms gain access to a source of creative advice and expert second opinion.

How best to pitch

Be clear as to what you have to offer, why you are good at it, how you charge and what a client can expect.

How not to pitch

Don’t use generalisations, attempt to hide disadvantages or pretend to have an expertise you don’t have.

Likes

Clients who receive professional and investment services want high levels of competence and practical help. Advisers need to be able to explain their services clearly and perform excellently. 

Dislikes

Business jargon and advertising puff.    

Final word

The key to providing good service is simple: understand what your client wants, do well what you do and explain yourself clearly.

What do you value most in a manager?

On a scale of one to five where five is the greatest

Strength of process - 5

Past performance - 4

Relationship - 5

Reporting - 5

Size of firm - 3


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Please sign in or register to comment. It is free to register and only takes a minute or two.
Andrew Cheeseman is chairman of the PAN Group, which is an independent group of companies dedicated to providing independent trustees to all types of pension plans. As chairman to a number of boards of trustees, he is fully conversant with the way occupational pension plan trustees select investment managers.

Andrew is one of the few trustees in the UK who is also regulated for the conduct of investment business by the Financial Services Authority. The answers below are the points that he believes represent the views of a typical board of trustees.

How best to pitch

A typical trustee board requires simple explanation with the key areas explained in layman terms. They want to hear from the manager, not the salesperson or the director. If the manager were to explain his part in the process, the part played by the central policy committee and any other influences, it would be refreshing.

How not to pitch

Generally speaking, managers’ presentations are shallow. They concentrate on past performance and give no indication of why trustees should have belief in the method and process used. They rarely show how the manager has an influence on the final outcome or the degree to which the house overview influences performance. Very often, presenters concentrate on a minor success to distract trustees from the major issues. 

Likes

Transparency of approach including the initial pitch and future reporting. Consistent approach with regard to perceived process. Strength of team and long-term performance record. Minimal risk for return.

Dislikes

Lack of communication and reporting, insufficient explanation regarding past performance, changes at senior or manager levels, changes of style. Arrogance!

Final word

Concentrate on the distinguishing elements of the house and provide a brief education for the trustees. Never assume that they have been properly briefed by the investment adviser, who will normally be sitting on the fence. Remember, it is the trustees who will make the decision, not the adviser.

What do you value most in a manager?

On a scale of one to five where five is the greatest

Relationship - 3

Past performance - 5

Reporting - 4

Size of firm – 3

Strength of process - 5

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Donny Hay is a trustee director at Lawdeb Pension Trustees, acting as trustee and investment specialist for several of the firm’s clients.

Lawdeb Pension Trustees is the largest firm of independent trustees in the country. It looks after over £140 billion of assets, more than 260 clients and chairs over 80 pension scheme committees. It is a collegiate team and has experience of every difficult issue in the pension and investment industry.

How best to pitch

Investment managers who work within the parameters set demonstrate their client focus. In addition, transparency builds trust. Precision of message demonstrates professionalism, while clarity of answers shows experience and understanding of the client’s requirements. Be succinct and demonstrate added value; smile.

How not to pitch

Don’t waffle; answer direct questions with direct answers. Don’t patronise trustees and if asked to send documents in advance, don’t then waste trees and energy by turning up with the same presentations. Overrun the pitch and you can expect to lose.

Likes

Advisers and asset providers have a duty to listen carefully to trustees’ requirements, and demonstrate quickly the investment strategy to satisfy them. Every pension scheme is different and solutions need to be tailored. I like providers who understand where they fit into the mix, and demonstrate that knowledge at the start of the relationship.

Dislikes

Providers who attempt to impress the client with their superior knowledge and understanding are annoying, as are providers who rely on past performance or industry magazine ‘awards’. Trustees want to know what makes past performance robust, repeatable and distinctive. Don’t waste their time – understand why you are there and be relevant.

Final word

This is not rocket science. Trustees require clarity, transparency, consistency and integrity. Sound performance, no awkward surprises and appropriate risk strategies provide reassurance. Good clear concise information and regular communication are a prerequisite of a professional relationship. 

What do you value most in a manager?

On a scale of one to five where five is the greatest

Relationship - 5

Past performance - 2

Reporting - 3

Size of firm – 1

Strength of process – 4


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Alan Noik is the managing director of Credo Capital, an independent private client wealth manager and London Stock Exchange member stockbroking firm. Noik joined Credo shortly after it was formed in 1998, and today the firm has assets under administration in excess of £1.2 billion.

Credo Capital is part of the Credo Group, which also has a successful UK and European commercial real estate arm and provides trust and fiduciary services out of its Geneva headquarters.

How best to pitch

The fund manager must present. Attention to detail on the team interactions and the process, ability to provide specific and relevant trade examples as evidence are vital. Less opinions, more facts. I like funds that have taken the time to research who we are beforehand – that often makes the pitch far more relevant.

How not to pitch

Investment jargon gets a bit irritating and I prefer straight-talking, down-to-earth discussions. I don’t like hard selling, or digressing on a question when a simple ‘I don’t know’ will suffice. Don’t send in the marketing people to present. Send in the decision makers/fund managers themselves.

Likes

Transparency and appropriate access to the investment process. Long track record at current or previous firms and specialist past experience. Awareness of strengths and weaknesses as well as thorough knowledge of drivers of performance. Honesty regarding mistakes. Rigid and independent risk management. Managers that have skin in the game ie, their own money is invested in the funds they are promoting. I like managers that have ‘been round the block’.

Dislikes

Style drift and changes in process. Lack of concern on capacity and liquidity. Over-involvement in marketing from key investment personnel. Staff turnover. High fees that are not justified by current performance. Managers who quote pro-forma performance figures – I like to see actual numbers only.

Final word

Transparency and performance are what it’s all about when selecting a fund for our clients. We like to meet often with the fund managers and monitor performance closely. The moment we feel things are slipping, we act quickly and decisively.

What do you value most in a manager?

On a scale of one to five where five is the greatest

Relationship - 4

Past performance - 4

Reporting - 3

Size of firm – 3

Strength of process - 5


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Ben Shaw leads the management team behind OPT, focusing on attracting new business and heading its actuarial and financial analysis. He was previously an equity analyst at Morgan Stanley, has been involved with the venture capital industry and has set up and run several companies in the retail and advertising industries.

Occupational Pensions Trusts (OPT) offers an alternative to the buyout market for occupational pension schemes. It operates as an occupational pension scheme umbrella group, beneath which several individual company occupational schemes exist as separate entities. OPT is run by a team of industry professionals, and a board of trustees makes all decisions regarding the management of member schemes. The board is chaired by Robin Ellison, former chair of the National Association of Pension Funds.

How best to pitch

I like to receive information ahead of time via email and have a chance to do my own research on you. For the beauty parade I like to be provided with a good understanding of current holdings.

How not to pitch

If your fund manager is not a good communicator or presenter, don’t send him to do the pitch. I have seen good fund managers do beauty parades and not get chosen because they did not know how to pitch.

Likes

Good performance. I like to understand why you think your asset class is going to do well, and what makes you different from the herd.

Dislikes

Personally I dislike people who are constrained by benchmarks. I like to look for unconstrained strategies.

Final word

Be proud of what makes you different, and make sure that you get that across

What do you value most in a manager?

On a scale of one to five where five is the greatest

Relationship - 2

Past performance - 4

Reporting - 3

Size of firm – 1

Strength of process – 3


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John Gray is a member-nominated trustee for the local government pension scheme for Tower Hamlets Council and an employer trustee for Newham Council and the trade union Unison staff pension schemes, altogether responsible for some £2 billion of capital. He is a member of the Association of Member Nominated Trustees (AMNT) and chair of its defined benefit working group.

Launched in 2010, the AMNT is a not-for-profit organisation that supports member nominated trustees, member nominated directors and employee representatives of UK-based pension schemes in the private and public sector.

How best to pitch

The simplicity of your argument is important – even very complex ‘black box’ style hedge fund strategies can be explained simply and directly. I am always mindful that if I don’t understand something – and this applies to any financial product – I am not going to buy it.

How not to pitch

It’s important fund managers do not treat non-investment professionals as mugs. Some will try to dazzle with jargon and talk down to trustees. I am amazed by how little research some managers do. They need to be prepared to research the project and learn about the specific requirements of the trust.

Likes

Managers who understand the concept of engagement, and who have a grasp on SRI (socially responsible investment) issues. Too many seem to think it is a weird ‘green’ thing and believe that if they have cut the carbon footprint of their office that makes them green.

Dislikes

Managers who have not read the statement of investment principles of the trust, or demonstrated that they have not understood its approach to governance, voting shares, SRI and the desired outcomes. The statement is posted on all local authority websites – it really is just a matter of Googling it.

Final word

Demonstrate long-term commitment. These are pension funds, so you have to be brave and produce an investment plan for the long term, rather than focusing on monthly and quarterly returns or a period of just a few years. We want to invest in replicable processes and not brilliant individuals.

What do you value most in a manager?

On a scale of one to five where five is the greatest

Relationship: 4

Past performance: 3

Reporting: 4

Size of firm: 3

Strength of process: 4


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Robert Matthews is a director at Capital Cranfield and trustee to 10 segregated defined benefit pension schemes ranging from £20 million to £1.5 billion. He has held director-level positions at F&C Asset Management, Isis Asset Management, and RSA Investments.

Launched in 1992, Capital Cranfield Trustees offers independent pension trustee services to ongoing UK pension schemes and, through a specialist Nottingham centre, to pension schemes in wind-up. It operates in Scotland as Scottish Pension Trustees.

How to pitch

Be enthusiastic. We are looking for someone who is keen for the business, willing to put our clients first and be there to provide continuity for the long term. Flexibility and the ability to explain the process concisely, clearly and empathetically are also very important.

How not to pitch

Arrogance. Having been a fund manager, I know that as a group they can sometimes talk down to people. Any suggestion that you are doing so in a pitch will kill it dead. Don’t be dull, don’t talk in a monotone or just stick to a standardised presentation – and definitely don’t try to prevent us from moving to a Q&A session.

Dislikes

Nothing is worse than the impression that you have met up 10 minutes before and read the brief in the car park. Take the presentation at the clients’ pace – don’t try to rush through or be too long-winded about things that are not relevant to them. Don’t dodge questions and be prepared to admit you sometimes make mistakes.

Likes

People who appreciate what the client wants and can demonstrate that they have read the brief. The presenter should be the guy at the coal face who will be the ongoing manager not just a salesperson. We want to meet the person who we will be dealing with over the long term.

Final word

Be positive and enthusiastic and be prepared. Don’t try to convince us that you will always be right; if something has gone wrong, tell us about it. A presentation that just focuses on the times that you got it right will not be convincing.

What do you value most in a manager?

On a scale of one to five where five is the greatest

Relationship - 4

Past performance - 2

Reporting - 3

Size of firm – 3

Strength of process - 5


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Please sign in or register to comment. It is free to register and only takes a minute or two.

Lisa Wilson is a partner in Hurst’s tax advisory team. She is a chartered tax adviser with 15 years’ experience. She advises on restructuring, succession, profit extraction and family wealth protection.

Hurst is a national independent accountancy firm with offices in Manchester, London and Stockport. The firm is a member of IGAF Polaris, the international group of accountancy firms. Hurst offers a range of services including audit, tax advice, corporate finance, payroll and a recently launched human resources service line. Its focus is helping ambitious private businesses achieve strategic goals.

How best to pitch

Listen and understand what is important to the client and respond with a bespoke solution. If appropriate, challenge your clients; a trusted adviser is an honest adviser. 

How not to pitch

Without preparation or thought. Selling a service that is generic will never get the right results for the client. Don’t just give the client options – they require your expertise to understand the options – but make a recommendation and back it up with reasons.

Likes

Investment managers who communicate without jargon. A clear, transparent fee structure and a manager who makes recommendations and then stands by them is the perfect kind of manager. Tri-partite communication with other advisors such as trustees and tax advisors is also essential.

Dislikes

Reactive advice. Excuses when things go wrong. The investment manager process. They should know exactly where the client’s risk profile is pitched at and work within these boundaries.

Final word

Clients are a lot more sophisticated and demand good quality service. A good adviser will understand this and respond with proactive, innovative solution-based advice.

What do you look for in a wealth manager?

On a scale of one to five where five is the greatest

Relationship - 5

Past performance - 4

Reporting - 3

Size of firm – 1

Strength of process - 2


Leave a comment!

Please sign in or register to comment. It is free to register and only takes a minute or two.
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