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Pub Club: Lee Morris, Smith & Williamson International

Pub Club: Lee Morris, Smith & Williamson International

It seems like stewed cheese and a sausage is compulsory with every dish. No, I’m not jangling my shillings queuing up for school dinner, rather I’m dodging the stainless steel trays of mashed potatoes and spinach as they sling past us down the table to our neighbouring diners in Simpson’s Tavern, writes Suzie Bliss.

Okay, so it does not sound that dissimilar to school dinners, but that is exactly why Smith & Williamson International’s (SWI) director of investment management, Lee Morris, has chosen one of the City’s oldest, all boys’ establishments. Its glorified school dinners have been drawing city folk here, including Charles Dickens and Nigel Farage, since 1757.

We are lunching away from Morris’ home turf in Jersey, where the SWI hub is. He joined the firm in July last year from Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management. Founded in January 2016, SWI is the hub for future international investment activity outside the UK and Ireland – Smith & Williamson already had a substantial offshore client base before the launch.

Alongside this role, Morris has been involved in educating local students in finance, lecturing part-time at the Jersey International Business School (JIBS) on their BSc in International Financial Services, which is endorsed by the University of Buckingham.

‘It is important the students get to speak to as many people within the industry as possible, so I encourage them to meet friends and contacts, allowing them to engage and learn from leading practitioners first-hand,’ he tells me as we peruse the carnivorous menu.

The degree programme has been running for five years in collaboration with the University of Buckingham. He continues: ‘It provides Islanders and those from further afield access to a highly reputable university within a highly regarded international finance centre.’ 

‘Around 60% of GDP in Jersey comes from financial services contributing £2.2 billion, while 26,000 jobs are supported by the industry accounting for circa 46% of jobs directly or indirectly,’ he says.  

It transpires that nearly every cut of meat is up for grabs, so its chump chop for me and liver for Morris, accompanied of course by the obligatory sausage. I am assured by the head waitress, who appears to be the only other woman in the place, that even if you order the salmon or a salad, you’ll get a sausage.

A father of three daughters, Morris is keen to encourage young women into the world of investment management. (A notion that could be heeded by Simpson’s Tavern, as I learn I m a lucky one in five – the average number of women who have bravely walked through the door.)

‘Several JIBS graduates have gone into investments, the industry appears to be becoming more egalitarian, which must be an improvement as a broader spectrum of ideas are considered, which hopefully enhances the client experience,’ he says.

‘I feel our programme expands on academic theory; the students have successfully been managing a balanced portfolio for more than three years, providing an insight into analysing and managing investments.’ A clatter at the table alerts me to the arrival of our food.

‘Doing this enables them to meet leading fund managers and experienced investment managers such as my colleagues Joel Graves and Chris Golding,’ he rounds off.

Morris is regarded as somewhat of a bond specialist, so I ask how this came about? ‘I suppose due to my education specialising in macro-economics, I find the bond market the easiest place to apply those tools.’

I want to know what it is about bonds that he likes so much? ‘I like exploring those bonds not typically index-related, these have the potential to provide clients with better long-term value.’

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