Clark admits that some of the tasks at Barclays were not the most enticing but feels in retrospect it was an opportunity that would not be afforded him in this day and age.
“It was a course no one would be able to do these days without a degree. Some of the tasks were not the sort of thing to get you out of bed in the morning. However, after a while I started to work on loans and general face-to-face enquiries, which I enjoyed much more.”
A problem for Clark was the move of Barclays Stockbrokers’ offices from Watford to Glasgow. He was not looking forward to the change but fortune struck when he had lunch with Robin Minter-Kemp which led to him joining Henderson.
“Almost everyone who is anyone has spent a period of their career at Henderson. Luminaries such as Robin Minter-Kemp,Ian Chimes and Phil Wagstaff all spent periods working at a firm that is a breeding ground for talent.”
It was Minter-Kemp again, this time alongside Alan Gadd, who persuaded Clark to move to HSBC as regional sales director, but he says at that time the focus was on the investment bank.
Then Clark made a decision to join Fidelity as sales director. “That was an interesting time and it was where I learned so much about the asset management business. It was my third big move on the asset management side and it was to the number one firm. It came at a time when Anthony Bolton was coming back into vogue and his sales were continuing to grow in strength. I learned so many things from a sales perspective thanks to Robin Threadgold. For example, that it was not just important to get business through the door but also to ensure that it was profitable in the long run.”
After three and a half years at Fidelity, it was time to take a sabbatical and do something a bit different and for Clark, an avid Arsenal supporter and all-round sports fan, that was a sports betting website offering advice.
“What transpired was the creation of www.sportingchances.com. I had always been able to find value in looking at the underlying factors in particular sports, such as tennis and American football and offering this advice for a monthly fee of £60 looked like a viable business opportunity, provided we could back up what we said. It turned a profit, which I am immensely proud of, but unfortunately it was not enough to sustain Mr and Mrs Clark.”
He returned to financial services in 2002 to join Deutsche Asset Management. He says the opportunity was there to return to Fidelity but he felt like taking a risk.
“Deutsche was rebranding to DWS and starting again. The philosophy of the business was changing and we needed to get funds on to platforms – not such an easy task in those days. We also signed a sponsorship deal with Aston Villa to raise awareness of the brand.”
Clark singles out as the highlight of his career in helping to raise the DWS market share to 5 per cent from 1 per cent. It was also at DWS where he crossed paths with Michael Warren.
Clark moved on following Deutsche Bank’s decision to sell parts of its London-based asset management business to Aberdeen Asset Management at the end of 2005. Areas included in the sale were the UK-based institutional equity, fixed income, global equity, multi-asset and DWS retail funds businesses.
He was approached by HSBC to run the retail and institutional business at the firm, which was depleted at that time. Clark took on the head of retail role at HSBC Investments in 2005 and Warren followed him to the firm in December that year.
Since then, Clark says he is delighted with how the business has progressed. “Open funds, now £90m in total, have been a recent highlight. They have started to perform well, having received some criticism for only taking £5m in the first six months, which was an amount that people did not recognise was actually healthy for a multiasset offering.”
Warren and Clark’s working partnership came to end in early 2007 when the former Warren left to join Thames River. Clark says it felt like a divorce but the pair are still good friends. His own role was elevated when he became managing director of wholesale in March 2007.
Clark says the prospects for HSBC Investments are bright. “Things are progressing really well for the firm with open funds and the offshore range being two examples that stand out. Despite market troubles, the prospects are strong and I am glad to be a part of it.”
Born: Taunton, Somerset
Lives: Reigate, Surrey
Education: Farnborough Sixth Form College
Likes: Poker, iTunes and people with a positive outlook
Dislikes: Political animals, middle-lane drivers and lies
Drives: Audi RS4 Avant
Book: Fup by Jim Dodge
Album: Dishwalla by Dishwalla
Career ambition: For UK retail investors to have a properly globally diversified portfolio and not 80 per cent in UK assets
Life ambition: Not to waste life
If I wasn’t doing this I would be… Interviewing