‘My noise cancelling headphones are one of the best things I have ever bought,’ says European Wealth’s investment strategist, Richard Stammers. ‘You just flick that button and the world goes away. If you’ve got to do the District Line, that’s the way to do it!’
Wise words if ever I have heard them. Luckily for me, Stammers has removed said headphones just in time for this week’s instalment of Pub Club at The Phoenix in Chelsea, writes Steve Plowman.
Despite the white noise approach to his commute, I certainly get the impression that my host is not likely to swap his travel card for a morning cycle any time soon. Stammers was recently on the wrong end of a freak (but very Chelsea) accident during a gentle Sunday cycle: ‘I had pulled in between two cars, I was stationary, and the Aston Martin next to me decided to drive over my foot. I said: I say my good fellow, would you awfully mind not parking on my foot!’
The Phoenix – at least on this fine Monday afternoon – is quiet, comforting and is not short of a quirk (note the random artwork above my head) and Stammers is keen to tell me European Wealth is not short of characters either. ‘One of the joys of being a start-up is that we have been able to hire like-minded people. Not clones, we have all sorts of characters which makes it a fantastic atmosphere in the office,’ he said.
Stammers, who built European Wealth’s investment process, is jokingly nicknamed ‘Three Month Lag’ by his colleagues due to the fact that they seem to always be three months ahead, but he is quick to dismiss any talk of crystal ball gazing. ‘Everything at European Wealth is measurable,’ he tells me. ‘We know why we have made every decision we have made and we can go back and analyse them. Whether you’ve got something wrong, or you’ve got something right, understanding the whats and whys is so important to informing future decisions.’
Though solid process remains at the heart of the firm’s client proposition, Stammers is adamant it is another attribute that should always remain top of an investment manager’s priority list.
‘The most important thing in investment management is communication. If you’ve taken the time to get to know somebody, really get to know them, and then tell them what you’re doing and why you’re doing it, and if it goes wrong, most people will say “I can understand why you did that”.’
Stammers continues: ‘we are in the most extraordinary industry where the trust that is placed in you is so fundamental. If you’re buying a car for £25k, you will probably check it out on the web, read about it in a magazine, maybe test drive a couple of similar cars to ensure that it is really the one you want. People come and sit down with you, look you in the eye and decide to give you half a million to look after, the sense of responsibility required of you is tremendous.’
That required sense of responsibility is reflective of the firm’s investment style and their corporate strapline reads ‘protect and grow your wealth’.
These words certainly ring true with Stammers, who proudly tells me ‘it’s no coincidence that the words are in that order’.‘We would far rather tell someone that we missed the last 5% of something, than that the market is 25% down, but don’t worry – you are “only” 20% down!’