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Bernard Henshall

Bernard Henshall, head of multi-manager distribution at Scottish Widows Investment Partnership, is relishing many aspects of his new job but airline breakfasts are not among them.

Henshall, along with the new multi-manager investment team, will be based in London but he anticipates some early morning flights to the Edinburgh head office.

His role has presented some interesting challenges, such as setting up processes and systems for the new funds and starting to promote them from scratch.

He joined Swip from Winterthur Life where he was head of investment distribution and has the task of marketing two new funds of funds. “We are working flat-out. Multi-manager is new to Swip and I am here to seek distribution opportunities for the new funds.”

The five-person investment team behind the new funds, led by Mark Harries and Simon Wood, were all recruited last autumn from Cazenove Capital Management.

Henshall says having an established management team on the launches is a big plus. “It is a great coup for Swip to be able to welcome an entire team. The fact that they could join Swip as a team meant we could hit the ground running. In terms of philosophy, process and products, we immediately had established plans.”

The timing of the two funds of funds is perhaps not what Swip would have chosen, coming amid volatility in equity markets, but Henshall says: “We do not want difficult markets because we want our advisers and clients to prosper but I think the appeal of multi-asset-class investing and an emphasis on capital preservation will pay off.”

He predicts that the growth in popularity of funds of funds will continue, as they provide answers to a number of problems faced by IFAs. He cites the proven track record, outsourcing of active management and underlying manager monitoring, diversification and efficiency. FSA pressure on advisers to prove they are treating customers fairly is also boosting multi-manager.

“If you try to do all that as an adviser, it would soak up a huge amount of internal resources which you may feel are better deployed in customer relationship management, holistic financial planning or the day-to-day running of a successful business.”

Henshall says Swip is able to offer something different from the other funds available. He says the Swip multi-manager diversity fund is moving away from the 60/40 equity to bond split that is traditional with cautious managed funds. As well as equities and bonds, it will invest in cash, property, commodities and funds of hedge funds.

“We think we have got more weapons in our armoury. Having the exposure to the wider number of asset classes gives us the opportunity to deliver performance with acceptable risk.”

The second new fund, Swip multi-manager select boutiques fund, is an equity fund of funds in the active managed sector which will hold between 15 and 20 underlying funds. “This is enough to give us diversity but not too much that we lose the effect of employing the managers.” Henshall says Swip has chosen to concentrate on smaller, specialist managers who ideally own a stake in the business and are not running “industrial” sums of money.

“We are employing them for their strength, not only when markets are good. The additional requirement we have of them is to have an emphasis on capital preservation. Clearly, you cannot deliver absolute returns in all equity markets but you can do your best to preserve capital.”

He says there are no plans to expand on the two funds but does not rule this out in the future. “We are not talking about what we do next at the moment. Further down the line, we are not excluding the possibility but I think we would let the market tell us what it wants. It is early days for us. When we have a greater understanding of what the market wants, we can think again.”

Henshall has been involved in the marketing and distribution of financial services for some time. He is a politics and economics graduate and his first job in financial services was in marketing and he has remained on the distribution side ever since.

He says he was content at Winterthur but was attracted by the opportunity to get involved in what is almost a start-up. “It is very appealing to be in somewhere at the ground level and contribute to it and watch it grow.” Henshall says the groundwork for the funds, such as setting up the admin and IT systems, is complete. With the funds up and running, it is time for him to start promoting them.

Born: Lancashire

Lives: Hertfordshire

Education: Politics and economics at University of Liverpool

Career: 2007-present – head of multi-manager distribution, Swip; 2000-07 – head of investment distribution, Winterthur Life; 1996-2000 – institutional sales, Ivory & Sime; 1990-96 – account manager, Scottish Amicable

Likes: Football, swimming (qualified Amateur Swimming Association teacher), rugby, family and friends

Dislikes: Airports

Drives: Mercedes estate car

Favourite book: Anything by Evelyn Waugh

Favourite film: Blade Runner

Favourite album: The White Album by The Beatles

Career ambition: “To take Swip multi-manager as far as we can go”

Life ambition: Too many or too interesting to tell

If I wasn’t doing this job I would be…A sports teacher


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