Fisher Investments managing director Miles Standish says recruiting good private client directors is proving increasingly difficult.
The UK arm of the US wealth management giant has now passed the $1 billion (£650 million) mark in assets under management and is looking to increase its headcount by more than 10% as part of an aggressive growth strategy.
The company is targeting $2 billion by 2015 and has been recruiting steadily over the last two and a half years, doubling its staff to around 100.
Twenty-seven of these are private client directors with the aim of growing this to 30, but Standish (pictured) thinks the retail distribution review (RDR) is deterring many wealth managers from switching jobs due to the uncertainty surrounding the sector.
‘With the RDR, a lot of people have decided to stay where they are until there is more clarity about how the market is panning out,’ he said. ‘They may not be happy where they are, but have decided to give it another six months as a lot of companies are being acquired and it is not yet clear who the winners and losers will be.
‘This is creating a lot of uncertainty and many good quality people are taking a cautious approach.’
Standish, a former Wealth Manager cover star, estimates that whereas previously he may have had to interview eight people to find one good candidate, he now has to see around 10 or ‘20% to 25% more’.
Much of this he puts down to the flood of people out of the high street banks’ wealth management arms and the lack of cultural fit with Fisher.
No third parties
The company takes a different approach to many of its peers, only working directly with the end client rather than chasing IFA business or offering model portfolios. Standish views this as the purest approach and a means of helping to reduce costs to investors.
‘It is very important that we keep our model intact, manufacturing the investment proposition at one end and taking that through to the end consumer,’ he said.
‘This cuts out the third party costs and helps keep our charges more competitive. Equally important is that it enables us to maintain a tight control of the service proposition we offer clients. We prefer to maintain contact with the end user.’
Fisher, which was set up by its eponymous chief executive and chief investment officer Ken Fisher in 1979, manages bespoke portfolios of global equities for clients, typically targeting 2% to 4% outperformance of the MSCI World index.
The investment management is run out of the US. Asset allocation is determined by the group’s three-strong investment committee, which is led by Ken Fisher, and supported by a team of more than 50 in-house analysts.
Standish said the recent stock market rally has been a mixed blessing in terms of attracting new business. While improving investor sentiment is clearly good news for a global equity manager, improving returns can lead to inertia.
‘A lot of people in cash and bonds are likely to move into equities, which definitely helps us and justifies us taking on new people,’ he said.
‘But on the other hand, people with underperforming portfolios will have seen them going up and think they are starting to move in the right direction so they will give the manager another six to 12 months. It is an interesting situation.’