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Room 101: what grinds these three wealth managers’ gears?

Paul Stevens

Investment manager and branch principal, 1st Port Asset Management, London

Investment: Having just reached 50, my list of nominees for Room 101 is now diverse and plentiful. My choice, however, for banishment from the investment world is performance fees. Isn’t being paid an annual management fee to do the job enough? Surely the good management of a fund should lead to higher fees through its increased capital value? So what justifies the extra, and where are those performance refunds?

Personal: World banishment was a harder choice, as there are so many valid and obvious contenders. I tried to choose something amusing and off the wall, but just kept coming back to the same irritant, and that is labelling. Not products, but people. Why, for example, do we need to identify individuals as Christian or Muslim, black or white, gay or straight? We are all people and so very, very similar in almost every way.

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Paul Stevens

Investment manager and branch principal, 1st Port Asset Management, London

Investment: Having just reached 50, my list of nominees for Room 101 is now diverse and plentiful. My choice, however, for banishment from the investment world is performance fees. Isn’t being paid an annual management fee to do the job enough? Surely the good management of a fund should lead to higher fees through its increased capital value? So what justifies the extra, and where are those performance refunds?

Personal: World banishment was a harder choice, as there are so many valid and obvious contenders. I tried to choose something amusing and off the wall, but just kept coming back to the same irritant, and that is labelling. Not products, but people. Why, for example, do we need to identify individuals as Christian or Muslim, black or white, gay or straight? We are all people and so very, very similar in almost every way.

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Jonathan Raymond

Investment manager, Quilter Cheviot, London

Investment: Needless over-complication. There are too many people and asset managers that overcomplicate investment when it is a relatively simple concept. Funds that promise things such as ‘multi-asset, systematic hedged arbitrage’ appear to deliberately obfuscate investors, often carry high charges and flatter to deceive. Focusing on broad diversification across the major asset classes and rebalancing as and when required will often bring about superior outcomes for clients. Keep it simple, stupid!

Personal: People using their phones while walking on the street. This is an ever increasing trend, especially here in London, and generally means the rest of us have to spend our time dodging oncoming people with their heads buried in phones. Awareness of the world around, please!

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Paul Wharton

Chief investment strategist, Tacit Investment Management, London

Investment: Tax-driven investment products. Business expansion schemes, enterprise investment schemes, VCTs, film partnerships; in other words, all those ‘high risk’, ‘blue-sky’ ‘opportunities’ masquerading as investments that turn into tax rebates secured, one way or another, on property. Fiddly, complex and meaningless tinkering introduced by chancellor after chancellor to support a pet project here or get a ‘tax-rabbit’ headline there. A legacy of tiny lines of stock that baffle clients bequeathing a trail of illiquid, half-formulated, misunderstood and unclaimed tax benefits to no obvious benefit to anyone.

Personal: Poste Italiane. The gag of 2016 was in the film Zootropolis; an animal world where the animal post office is manned by sloths! If you have ever tried to pay a bill or send a parcel from a branch of Poste Italiane you will know that if at 9am there are more than three people in the queue, it is time to turn around and try again tomorrow. The agony of a deadline. Incredibly, it is a candidate for privatisation.

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