Just off London’s bustling Oxford Street you can find Roka, on Charlotte Street. Here I had lunch with Wealth Manager’s Top 30 under 30 alumnus, Camilla Carson of Quilter Cheviot, writes Anna Dumas.
Roka, one of London’s most illustrious Japanese restaurants, specialises in robatayaki cuisine – literally translated as ‘fireside dining’. Had I known this, the boat-sized firepit in the centre of the venue might have come as slightly less of a shock.
Over expertly grilled delicacies and a glittering platter of sashimi, we discussed how Carson’s upbringing has given her the edge when it comes to company analysis and what challenges she felt lay ahead for the investment management community.
As the sashimi platter arrived and we tried to identify exactly what species of raw marine life we were eating, we discussed her penchant for looking under the hood of businesses, her primary interest in investment research being UK equity.
‘You don’t go into this business unless you’re interested in how companies are managed,’ Carson said.
She described how having a father who ran a supermarket engendered a career-shaping, innate understanding of the sector.
‘He used to walk me around the shop when I was little explaining how the whole thing ran from top to bottom.’
This early insight should stand her in good stead if her predictions for UK equities in 2014 hold true. ‘Small caps will have an interesting year, especially with large caps struggling to make excessive headway.’
At this point there was a break in the conversation as we were both temporarily rendered mute by the sampling of Roka’s exquisite black cod dumplings (my culinary peak of the year so far). As I brought myself back to the subject at hand, I asked about what she considered to be the next big challenges for the wealth management industry.
‘The next big challenge for this industry is innovation: making sure that we’re catching the interest of the next generation of wealth creators.’
How well does she think the industry is set up to serve this next cohort of clients?
‘There’s muttering in the industry that generation Y will want less engagement with financial services professionals than the current model allows for,’ she said, ‘but my experience has shown the opposite.
‘They ask more questions, they have had their finances squeezed at an early age and are acutely aware of the need to preserve and grow capital. This means that they’re keen to talk to people who are qualified to help them to do so.’
We discussed how retail banking seems to be missing this opportunity, leaving a space wide open for bespoke investment management.
‘If I wasn’t in this industry, I’d find the information that retail banks supply about personal finance baffling and frankly uninteresting. They don’t grab people’s interest in the global economy.
‘This gives us as investment managers a unique opportunity, because people enjoy talking about everything from company analysis to global politics –it’s a more tangible and stimulating way to relate than talking about ISAs and interest rates.’
Another stimulating way to relate is over an unexpected free sundae, which the maître d’ insisted on giving us to share, rounding off a thoroughly interesting (and delicious) lunch appointment.