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Wealth Manager: Charles Stanley's Peters on what trusts must do to thrive post-RDR

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by James Phillipps on Aug 23, 2012 at 00:01

Stephen Peters was pretty much given free rein to develop his career when he joined Charles Stanley and he grasped the opportunity with both hands.

Originally brought in to lead its investment trust research, he has expanded his remit into open-ended funds and, at just 32, became co-manager of the Matterley International Growth fund and the group’s in-house collective portfolio service last April.

He said that when he joined the firm, his role was to act as the centralised mouthpiece, co-ordinating the group’s investment trust coverage, and act as a conduit for the experience and knowledge that was spread among its investment managers.

Coming from a predominantly institutional background, Peters was attracted to the faster pace of wealth management where investment decisions can be implemented much more quickly. After graduating with a degree in psychology, he started out at  John Scott and Partners, moving over to Hewitt Associates (now Aon Hewitt), where he spent four-and-a-half years working in its fund research team from 2002.

‘At Hewitt, you are dealing with huge amounts of money – £100 million or less would go into pooled funds, but more often than not the money would be managed as segregated mandates,’ he said. ‘But the due diligence and approval process was pretty drawn out because you had to convince the trustees and they were liable for it. It could be quite frustrating – you would do a lot of work but then it would take so long to see the results.’

Peters describes the firm as a ‘brilliant learning ground’, but after completing his CFA, he made the switch back to retail.

Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, given the previous lack of a dedicated investment trust analyst at the firm, Charles Stanley holds around half of the £4 billion private client assets that is held in collectives in closed-end funds – a legacy of its stockbroking days. Overall the group runs £15.4 billion.

One of his first tasks on joining the firm was getting to grips with its clients’ existing holdings, getting out and about meeting the underlying managers and looking for new attractive investment opportunities in the sector.

A staunch if pragmatic advocate of investment trusts, he points to the sector’s rich history and the way it can be used to chart imperialism and technological innovation in Victorian times.

 

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