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Clive Boothman

Lives: Wandsworth, London.

Born: May 28, 1955, London.

Education: BA in politics philosophy and economics at Trinity College, Oxford. Went to school at Charterhouse in Surrey.

Career: Began as a trainee chartered accountant at Ernst & Young in 1981. Joined Schroders as a research analyst for the investment division in 1983. In 1987, took charge of rebuilding Schroders&#39 retail mutual fund business. Chaired Autif between 1995 and 1997 and also served on the board of Lautro during the 1990s. In 1998, he moved to head Schroders&#39 private client business before joining Gerrard as chief executive in 2000. Has also served on the board of Apcims. Joined Cofunds January 2002.

Career ambition: To make Cofunds the most successful fund supermarket in the UK.

Life ambition: To keep his new year&#39s resolution to go to the gym regularly.

Likes: Honesty.

Dislikes: Politics, in-fighting.

Car: Several but, for the record, Mercedes SL 1970 pagoda top.

Peers say: “He is a very calm and measured manager. A very good team player.”

When Clive Boothman turned up for his first day of work at Cofunds last week, he could hardly have been prepared for what awaited him. Sitting on his new desk lay a copy of a document which proposed to redefine the boundaries of the industry in which he has worked for 20 years as well as potentially alter the entire nature of the job he was about to embark on.

But perhaps it was apt that the new chief executive should join Cofunds at the dawn of what is to be a new era in financial services. Having worked his way from chartered accountant to Schroders head of retail and, most recently, to chief executive of stockbrokers Gerrard, Boothman has had extensive experience in the financial services industry, both before and during the polarisation era.

Although a strong supporter of independent advice, he is not keen to be drawn on whether polarisation should stay or go. Nevertheless, he maintains that his support will only be given to a regime which preserves the independent intermediary community.

He says: “I believed before I came to Cofunds, and believe now, that the IFA sector has an important influence – over and above its market share – on the way the industry operates. The sanitising effect of having an independent sector which is champion of the good over the mediocre has an overriding benefit for the consumer. It actually has an influence on the whole industry and the way in which products survive – or don&#39t – in the way in which products come to market, in the way that charges are levied and in structuring products.

“We have to think very carefully what the consequences of some of these changes may be on the overall shape and quality of products in years to come and that is why I am a little bit cautious of the FSA thinking you can blur this distinction between independent and tied advice with multi-ties without placing a constraint on choice, innovation and championing the good.”

While Boothman has made clear his intention to defend the IFA, he believes that Cofunds has a robust enough proposition to survive regardless of the changes.

In the post-polarisation era, he says, brokers will still need efficient and technologically advanced back-office systems, whether they are tied, multi-tied or independent.

In his new job, Boothman says his primary task is to take Cofunds to the next level. His predecessor, Sam Jensen, was brought in to launch the platform and now, with a solid client base, Boothman is keen to refine and enhance the supermarket&#39s capability and to “perfect the core proposition”.

He says: “Beyond that, there are really two dimensions. One is to think about the range of products that Cofunds supports beyond Isas and Peps and clearly there are other areas that the intermediary community might like access to in one way or another. The second is to look at its potential parallels outside the UK, chiefly Europe.”

B oothman is confident that 2002 will see at least a reduction, if not the abolition, of the Cofunds&#39 founders&#39 exclusivity pact. Threadneedle, Gartmore, Jupiter and M&G are still not available on the FundsNetwork platform while Fidelity has yet to put its funds on Cofunds.

He says: “One can perfectly well understand in the first instance why it was desirable for Cofunds to have that protection and effectively give it an early chance of establishing itself against – at that stage – what could have been rather a large number of competitors.

“But in some ways, the early exclusivity has now achieved its purpose. I think the debate will now be how we reduce that and I guess the answer to that is a reciprocal arrangement with any of the other platforms.

“In the end, Cofunds is transparent and believes in competition and a free market. We do not support the concept of a constant bar on market competition. Clearly, from the financial adviser&#39s point of view, they want access through the platforms to the widest possible number of participants.”

Boothman says the four founders are still keen to ensure the platform&#39s independence and, while he will not rule out the platform&#39s sale or a rearrangement of the shareholdings, he says the founders will not allow the platform to fall into the hands of a single provider.

For a man who says he dislikes politics, chief executive of Cofunds may well be a challenging position for Boothman. Nevertheless, he is quick to defend the politics of the financial services industry, insisting that it is much more collegiate than bitter.

Certainly, Boothman has a CV that is tailor-made for the position and, from his decade at the top of Schroders, including a stint as chairman of Autif, he is a well known and well respected personality in the fund management world.

Citing his hobbies as skiing, water sports and old cars – of which he confesses to having several but declines to reveal how many – Boothman is as active in his spare time as when he is at work.

Determined and self-motivated, too, Skandia and Fidelity may do well to keep an eye on him.

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