Tell us a little about yourself
I’m 44 and I live in Bristol with wife and two daughters, who are five and nearly three, and occupy most of my time at the moment.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I like to go swimming, although I don’t get to do as much as I’d like these days. Travelling is also a real passion of mine.
What do you like about working at Willis Owen?
The thing that gives me the most enjoyment is helping our customers make good, sensible decisions with their money. The best thing about my role now is that I can have a big impact on that and that’s part of the reason I joined in the first place.
We are in a position where we have done a lot of good work developing our proposition, brand and platform but there is a big opportunity to grow the business, which is very exciting.
If you could give one piece of advice to your teenage self, what would it be?
As my background is investments, I’d say remember that investing is all about getting rich slowly. Getting rich quick is called gambling.
What three things would you do if you were head of the Financial Conduct Authority?
- I would try to implement a culture where firms followed the spirit of the rules and not just the letter of the law. Although I appreciate that is easier said than done.
- I would focus on enforcing regulation and sticking to it. It’s important firms know where the lines are.
- Finally, I would look to simplify a lot of the existing rules and regulations. A lot of regulation does not actually help customers. Fact sheets, for example, are so overly compliant and complicated now that they are no longer useful to investors.
What is your industry pet peeve?
Fund managers talking up their own book too much. The fund managers I respect the most are the ones who are very open and honest. For example, it is hard to trust a manager when they talk up the prospects of investing in the asset class they manage even though all of the data suggests otherwise. I admire managers who hold up their hands when they make a mistake.
What is the one column or website you read every day?
I like the Lex column in the Financial Times, which gives good summaries of some of the big things that have been going on in the markets. I also like Iain Cowie’s column in the Sunday Times; it has a nice personal touch.
What would you do if you received a windfall of £10,000?
I’d probably pay off a little bit of the mortgage, top up a pension or an ISA as well as my children’s investments. Then, if there is anything left, I’d probably buy my family a little treat.
What will be the key stories and themes in the investment space over the coming year?
- Brexit, unsurprisingly.
- How Boris Johnson’s premiership will pan out will be very interesting and could move markets.
- The US economy. There has been talk of a recession but I actually think the US economy may surprise a few people this year and the expansion we are currently seeing will continue for a while yet.
- There has been a changing of the guard in Europe, which is contending with a number of issues at the moment – such as Greece or Italy – that could flare up again.
- Chinese growth. Is it a temporary slowdown or a more long-term slump?
- Tech giants. How much higher can their shares go? Some of them are very expensive but the market can be irrational far longer than people think.