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Martin Johnson to the Queen: Wealth managers' dream business partners

From the Queen’s brand power to Thomas the Tank Engine’s work ethic, our readers reveal their ideal business partnerships.

Last month Wealth Manager revealed that former JM Finn and Brewin Dolphin investment managers teamed up with an associate professor of finance at Liverpool University to establish a new discretionary wealth firm. 

So we asked nine other wealth managers who their ideal business partners would be. 

 

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Last month Wealth Manager revealed that former JM Finn and Brewin Dolphin investment managers teamed up with an associate professor of finance at Liverpool University to establish a new discretionary wealth firm. 

So we asked nine other wealth managers who their ideal business partners would be. 

 

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Nic Spicer

Head of research and portolio manager, PortfolioMetrix, London

‘To spare the blushes of my real-life business partner, Mike Roberts, I thought I would look to the world of fiction for inspiration. Courtesy of two very young sons, though, books and TV chez Spicer are to a very large extent kid-themed.

'So, who among the toddler TV and hardback pantheon would make an ideal business partner? Certainly not The Gruffalo. Despite a vague resemblance to Mike during his beardy phase, the Gruffalo’s overconfidence and fear probably rule him out. One would also question Peppa Pig’s commercial nous (although, certainly not that of her owner, Entertainment One).

'So, my money would be on Thomas the Tank Engine. Sure, he’s a bit cheeky, but he’s also loyal, trustworthy, curious and enthusiastic. And, while he does make mistakes, he’s always willing to learn from them. Ultimately, in his quest to be "really useful" he’s also hard-working, a quality key to success in the world of adults too.’

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Shane Balkham

Chief investment officer, Beaufort Investment, Redhill

‘My dream business partner would be Mary Barra. She has taken General Motors (GM), a company that sits within a sector that is arguably as turbulent as our own (with regulatory challenges and disruptive technology), and strengthened what is core: putting the customer at the centre of everything the company does.

'The first female CEO of GM and any to lead a major automaker, Mary Barra is not afraid to make important decisions that are deemed unpopular. In November, she stoked Trump’s ire when she announced job cuts as part of a restructuring plan to make GM more agile and profitable. She is driving change in a staid industry, making GM future-proof, and focusing on a company that can save lives (zero crashes) and create a healthier planet for the next generation (zero emissions).

'With an increased focus on environmental, social and governance characteristics, Mary Barra knows what investors and customers want.’

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Mike Myers

Investment manager, Psigma Investment Management, London

‘For me, it would have to be the Queen. She has all the qualities you would want in a business partner and is a marketing machine. The power of her brand is unrivalled, pulling in crowds wherever she goes and setting trends regardless of demographic.

'The Queen is: traditional yet relevant – core values are important to all businesses, and she has consistently shown the ability to evolve and adapt to societal changes while maintaining long-standing traditions; an experienced manager – she has been running a large team for some time now (a mere 67 years) and it keeps growing; a great networker – non-stop activity is key to driving a business forward, and she is constantly at events and always at the top of anyone’s guest list; and a workaholic – commitment to the job and being passionate about what you do is an essential quality.’ 

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Nigel Moore

Senior wealth manager, Pilling & Co, Manchester

'It is impossible to single out one individual, given the breadth of successful business leaders and entrepreneurs over the last century.

'Rather than a business leader, Israeli academic Yuval Noah Harari would be a welcome partner to our business. I have been mesmerised by his bestselling books that offer a comprehensive and insightful account of the social, economic and political evolution of societies over time and the current opportunities and challenges they face.

'He explains how capitalism became the most successful political system of our era, creating the opportunities for wealth creation that underpins global peace and prosperity. Although not known for his business acumen, his insight into these constructs would complement and help guide a firm such as Pilling & Co in our dealings with clients, market counterparties and the wider business community.

'His recent thoughts on the resurgence of nationalism as a threat to global/ liberal trade networks highlights pressures that are only just surfacing. A thinker of his stature would be a credit to any company, especially a stockbroking firm seeking investment solutions to clients for the many challenges that we face.'

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Glen Wilson

Regional director of North, Rowan Dartington, Leeds

'Martin Johnson. England’s World Cup-winning rugby captain emerged as a great player in the amateur days of rugby, and not only survived the transition to professionalism, but positively flourished to become the rugby team’s most successful leader, reinventing himself as a player.

'With an understated academic ability and the intelligence to read people, he motivates and leads more with his actions and attitude than what is said.

'He stood out as a top class player across very different eras by having an appreciation of the past, an ability to read present and future events.

'When times are good, you’d follow him anywhere; when times are hard, you’d want him in the trenches with you. Challenging you to be your best while giving you the confidence – he’s got your back.'

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Peter Sleep

Senior investment manager, Seven Investment Management, London

'I have been asked what field I would like to work in if I did not work in finance. I told them architecture. In that vein, I am going to pick architect Frank Lloyd Wright as my dream business partner.

'He was one of the most creative and forward-thinking architects of recent times, although it might have been very difficult working with him, given his often troubled life. Lloyd Wright’s life was the inspiration for Ayn Rand’s controversial book, Fountainhead, which pitches the individual against the collective, which sums up Lloyd Wright’s approach to life and architecture.

'Lloyd Wright believed in “organic architecture”, using glass and concrete to create space. Many buildings in the 1930s were still in the neo-classical style, decorated with Greek columns. Lloyd Wright went his own way and produced “Fallingwater” in Pennsylvania, going on later to design the Guggenheim Museum in New York.'

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Eric Silvestre

Research analyst, Alpha Portfolio Management, Bristol

'As the founder of one of the world’s largest hedge funds, Ray Dalio would be at the top of my list. Considering his unconventional business culture, this could be seen as a controversial choice.

'His management methods have been widely criticised for being too extreme, as he promotes an environment in which every member of the business has the duty to openly voice their opinion, and everyone is rated constantly in front of others. While this method goes against mainstream managerial theory, I see it as an essential trait in a potential business partner.

'Putting aside his insights on global macro investing, I admire Dalio’s approach to reasoning and seeking the truth through open and transparent discussion when it comes to making decisions.

'The art of learning and adapting to changes can be very abstract. However, Dalio’s principles offer an invaluable thinking framework with which to tackle personal and business challenges.'

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Sophie Kennedy

Head of investment, EQ Investors, London

'As an employee-owned business, we see ourselves as business partners, so I wouldn’t want to upset my fellow colleagues by suggesting an alternative!

'As stakeholders in the business, we are committed to delivering a positive outcome for our clients and each other. At EQ and a lot of other modern companies, the contribution to value comes from the employees, and it’s great that this is recognised.

'We are also a B Corp, and this ethos has at its heart the idea of "business as a force for good". I’m more than happy to work at a business with those values.'

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Darryn Lake

Chief investment officer, JLT Investment Management, Exeter

‘My dream business partner would be Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist who revolutionised the American steel industry in the 19th century. There is one main drawback to this becoming a reality: 11 August this year will see the centenary of his death.

'That minor point aside, I have always admired entrepreneurial skill and, in particular, those with a pioneering vision to change or create an industry.

His ability to invest and build businesses led him to being one of the richest men in US history. However, it is also estimated that he donated over 90% of his fortune to large-scale philanthropy with an emphasis on libraries for greater education and reading, subjects which are close to my heart. His business acumen would be invaluable and I admire his balance between building business and giving back to the community.’ 

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