Avid readers of this feature will be pleased to hear that we made history this week by completing, not only the most northerly Pub Club we’ve ever done, but the first one in bonny Aberdeen, writes Eleanor Mahmoud.
Six hours and 600km from London (we’re not called the On the Road team for nothing you know), we reached our venue, No.10 Bar & Restaurant in Aberdeen’s West End, chosen by Mark Flynn, a director at Barclays Wealth & Investment Management.
I discover that it is an obvious choice for him. Not only does No.10 have strong connections to the city’s financial sector (it was formerly home to solicitors Brander & Cruickshank which later became Aberdeen Asset Management), but is also part owned by a friend of Flynn’s and is one of his local haunts.
Flynn tells me that he loves to cook, especially at weekends. With this all in mind, I regard his lunch recommendations highly and it doesn’t take us long to decide – a burger for him and fish & chips for me (I am told the haddock will have been caught locally).
Born and bred in Aberdeen, Flynn spent some time during his career in Edinburgh before returning to the city, where he now lives with his family. Flynn set up the Aberdeen office of Barclays W&IM in 2008.
He tells me: ‘It was a fantastic opportunity – I wanted the intellectual stimulation of dealing with investments myself rather than having to ask someone else. It is the best job I’ve ever had.’
With our wine glasses full, I ask Flynn what it was like launching in his home city?
‘When we set up the office there was a huge appetite for it. Market movements helped establish the office and build our client base,’ he said.
The office covers an area geographically larger than Belgium. Most clients are generally based around Aberdeen and the North East of Scotland, which is testimony to the fact Barclays wanted to better service clients in this large region.
Our food arrives and we tuck in. Flynn goes on to explain that he has seen continued high demand in the area, as clients don’t want to have to travel as far as somewhere like Edinburgh to reach their investment manager. He says: ‘The team in Aberdeen act as a local delivery mechanism and people here love that. Clients expect to be looked after locally.’
The office now has a core permanent team of three as well as about 20 others supporting the office in various ways.
Growth in Aberdeen has been multi-faceted, with Flynn saying: ‘Oil and gas has been one of the big drivers, but we’ve also seen an increase in entrepreneurial clients, we are closely involved with the local vibrant entrepreneurial system.’
As talk turns to the local economy, Flynn is enthusiastic: ‘As a bank, we’re invested in the region, it’s a vibrant economy which has built itself on the back of the oil and gas industry, but it’s important to remember that the city also has other strengths and capabilities.’
He tells me the team at the office pride themselves on getting to know the local community. It certainly seems Flynn has been successful: ‘I love it, although I will admit that bumping into people all the time sometimes drives my wife mad! It’s a real benefit that I truly get to know my clients and develop long standing relationships with them.'
Glass half full: ‘We are feeling very positive about the world economy and capital markets. Economic cycles don’t die of old age, we have been keeping an eye on key indicators and are yet to spot any major problems. With this in mind, we are optimistic about global risk assets at the moment.’
Glass half empty: ‘We are less enthusiastic about government and high grade corporate bonds. As and when interest rates rise, there’s a value trap with bonds which we’re very aware of.’