This week I was off to lunch with Investec Wealth & Investment’s senior investment director Nick Sketch.
I first remember him delivering a speech to an investment trust conference, which must have been nearly a decade ago. I recall he was willing to speak some hard truths to a bunch of investment trust aficionados. Whenever I have met Nick since then he has never disappointed with his sharp and very insightful views.
We met at the Paternoster Chop House in the City. As many of our readers will know, it is about the nearest thing to a City canteen you can get but always delivers on the meat front!
Nick works in Guildford with a client base that is focused around Farnham, where the office used to be based. But as a key member of Investec Wealth’s collectives committee he admits that he ends up in London about twice a week.
The committee is clearly going great guns as it integrates the former team from Investec Private Bank with the Rensburg Sheppards crowd.
Our talk turned as it often does to investment trusts – an area we both have a soft spot for. But this time we swapped stories about the most annoying things we had ever had told to us by trust folk.
Mine remains the complaint made by the head of investment trusts at a major asset manager who said he thought it was ‘unfair on everyone’ for investment trust boards to offer a cash exit to shareholders. Of course, his version of ‘everyone’ did not include the actual shareholders who obviously wanted an exit.
Nick’s was the chairman of an investment trust board telling him he thought his job was to ‘balance the interests of the asset manager and the shareholders’. Enough said.
But he is someone who has made investment trusts work for his clients, partly by having a deeply cynical core honed over many years of fighting for his clients’ interests.
Over the main course our conversation turned to how to keep clients happy.
Nick answer is clear: ‘Don’t promise them the world and don’t pass yourself off as a genius.’ It’s a formula that has worked for him even though he has a pretty demanding client bank.
It includes a few former wealth managers and one lawyer who informed him on his first meeting that ‘I made my money by suing people in financial services’. (He must be happy because he hasn’t sued Nick.)