Derrick Dunne (pictured below) was appointed chief executive of Beaufort Investment Management in May. Here he talks about his first 100 days in the post and some of the challenges he has faced.
It was day one, 9 May - my first first day in more than 17 years. My previous two firms were started in my kitchen in Wimbledon. In this venture, I would have many more colleagues on day one. It was straight into the deep end with my day full of board meetings, which was a great way of immersing myself in the business.
I first started talking with Simon Goldthorpe (chairman) and Andrew Bennett (CEO of Beaufort Group of Companies) in January. I knew a little about Beaufort Investment Management, as Shane Balkham (head of porfolio construction) and Emma Clarke (senior investment analyst) had been clients of my last firm, being early investors in the Sanlam Four Multi-Strategy fund.
The wealth sector has a great deal of challenges ahead but it is also growing at a rapid rate due to demographics, the demise of defined benefit pension schemes and the increased ISA allowances for all.
Simon, Andrew and myself quickly realised that we had an alignment of views on client focus and the future of wealth management. We progressed to a deal that suited us all.
I had co-founded Sanlam Four, a direct investment business, in 2006 and Attica, a multi-manager, in 2000 (which was later acquired by American Express), so I’m excited to bring that experience to Beaufort IM.
On 14 and 15 May, I was invited to attend a principal partners meeting in York. It was a great opportunity to see how the group interacted with and listened to its partner firms. It was also ideal for me to meet the individuals who managed these firms. We had a long agenda during the day and then a dinner in the evening. There may have been a few drinks after that, too!
My intention was to spend time meeting with all the stakeholders in the firm: the clients, the partner firms, the employees and the shareholders. My goal was to listen. I believe you have a valuable opportunity at the start to hear opinions from others before you begin to establish your own. This involved setting up plenty of one-on-one meetings over the following weeks.
On 23 May, I attended the professional pensions awards. It was a great evening and my first opportunity to catch up with industry contacts as Beaufort IM’s CEO.
I took part in my first business pitch with Andrew Bennett on 6 June. Happily, I can report we were successful! The business is now a client of Beaufort IM.
Meanwhile, we had the Beaufort Securities debacle carrying on. It is unfortunate for us that the firm, which has no relationship whatsoever with our Beaufort Group, should create such a scandal. That said, we have had great understanding from clients, partner firms and the press. I liked the way the business dealt with the problem and faced it down.
We had an investment team away day session on 22 June. It was good to spend time getting to know the team better and to explore elements of the investment process, resourcing and future plans.
You have a valuable opportunity at the start to hear opinions from others.
On 29 June, and over the hottest weekend of the year, when the BBC reported ‘Scotland breaks temperature record’, a team of 10 of my colleagues attempted to complete the National Three Peaks Challenge in 24 hours, all in aid of the charity, Dreams Come True. The challenge involved climbing the highest peaks in Britain. It was a superb effort and has raised nearly £20,000 to date.
Having had lots of very useful input from my meetings with the stakeholders in the business, I started to draft an initial report for the board. We have great people and very good performance. We are approaching £1 billion in assets under management. All in all, a very sound foundation upon which we can grow and develop the firm.
As with any rapidly growing business, it is critical that the right management and organisational structures are put in place. Done correctly, it frees our people, in as much as it is possible, to focus on their day jobs and spend less time on management admin.
As the football World Cup came to fruition in mid-July (I had Croatia in the sweepstake), I circulated my initial report to the directors and the heads of department in Beaufort Investment. It was received very well.
We are putting in a new committee structure to help manage the company; we are adding resources; and we are looking to improve efficiencies and add to the fund range for our advisers and clients. This will include putting together our own Oeic to provide a compelling offering for our clients.
On 26 July, I had my first client service meeting. It was a very constructive meeting, and while I was bringing our client up-to-date on our thinking, it was also very useful for me. Feedback from clients is invaluable for a client-focused business.
With holiday season in full flow, my 100th day was on 13 August.
The hard work begins now with implementing the new structure and building on the good work the firm has already been doing. We hope to grow organically but will be open to exploring the right M&A opportunities as well.