View more on these topics

Inglorious chairman

Chairing IFA roadshows and other investment events is no walk in the park. Oh sure, I know I make it look effortless but behind my carefully composed expression of intelligent scepticism and benign authority, my mind is constantly awhirl with intricate calculations as I labour to enhance the audience experience or whatever.

Then there is the emotional toll – how do you think it feels politely to ask the delegates to switch off their mobile phones and Blackberries, secure in the knowledge that most would sooner switch off a family member’s life support system, and the venue will soon be alive with assorted squeaks, chirrups and other ringtones?

What about the post-traumatic stress brought on by the pressures of ensuring everything runs to a schedule that never makes any allowances for, a, the time it takes for speakers to arrive at and leave the podium and, b, the natural inclination of most managers to use up every second of their allotted time plugging their fund and usually a minute or two more?

Of course, where I really earn the money at least a few organisations see fit to pay me is in marshalling the panellists of any question and answer session, which is usually to be found tagged on at the end of the event.

Usually a fund group’s marketeers will go out of their way to avoid any situation where a manager might possibly say something that has not been scripted and passed through compliance at least three times.

However, some sort of convention has grown up around roadshows that delegates should be able to ask questions – even if it is only for a period that has averaged out in my experience to somewhere in the region of six and a half minutes.

Occasionally, this has proved to be around six and a half minutes more than is strictly necessary on account of the delegates either being stunned into silence or having had all their questions already answered by the preceding presentations.

Not that I am in a position to criticise the silence, mind you, having asked just one question in 14 years of press conferences on the basis that, if I have a good question, why would I share it with my competitors and, if I have a bad one, why would I advertise my ignorance?

Nevertheless, having dragged the managers back up to the stage to shiftily re-enact the line-up scene from The Usual Suspects or perch on stools like so many Val Doonicans, it would be rude to despatch them back immediately and so I always have a few pre-prepared questions in case of emergency.

And since I may be faced with, say, a UK bond manager, a Japanese equities manager and an absolute return manager and everybody needs to get to say something, these questions will tend, I admit, to be less Newsnight and more Blind Date.

It has not come to it yet but I fear it is only a matter of time before I make good my threat to ask: “If your fund was an animal, what animal would it be and why?”

Around the turn of the year, however – which, for the purposes of investment events, means early November through to late February – my fallback question is to ask each panellist what single event over the next 12 months would most benefit their portfolio and the prospect of which one causes them most concern. In fact, because I like to end on a high, I try – not always successfully – to get them to put the bad news first.

Picture the scene a few Fridays back, then, as I put that question for the final time to the final manager of the final leg of the autumn IQ roadshow, with more than 100 London delegates visibly eager either to head upstairs for the wine and canapes or start their weekend half an hour early – and Artemis’s William Littlewood casually mentions his concern about a major eurozone country defaulting next year.

Somewhat flustered by the need to wind up proceedings, I merely thanked him for uninten-tionally stitching me up and went home feeling as unsatisfied as, well, you must be, having realised this column has just ended.

Julian Marr is editorial director of and


Segars says auto-enrol contribution must top 8%

National Association of Pension Funds chief executive Joanne Segars says the Government will have to raise automatic enrolment contributions above 8 per cent of salary to ensure people save enough for retirement. Following a three-month ind-ependent review of the mechanisms of auto-enrolment, inc-luding the Nest scheme, pensions minister Steve Webb confirmed that employees will contribute […]

Wrap providers face £60m cost of compliance fees

The industry will be hit with £127m of one-off compliance costs as a result of the FSA’s latest platform proposals. The regulator says platform operators can expect to be charged £60.2m in one-off costs to meet the new proposals and other intermediate unitholders will have to pay the same amount. Fund managers will be hit […]

BoE Governor defends decision not to raise interest rates

The Governor of the Bank of England has defended the decision not to raise interest rates. Giving evidence to the Treasury select committee this morning Mervyn King said the prolonged elevation was down to “temporary shocks”. King said: “It would have been wrong to have raised interest rates markedly over the past year deliberately in […]

Checks and balances

Our panel welcome the introduction of income-checking of potential borrowers by HM Revenue & Customs but are wary of the practicality of such a system, plus: views on proposals from the regulator in the mortgage market review for cutting paperwork and concerns over where the buck stops on affordability


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up


    Leave a comment


    Why register with Money Marketing ?

    Providing trusted insight for professional advisers.  Since 1985 Money Marketing has helped promote and analyse the financial adviser community in the UK and continues to be the trusted industry brand for independent insight and advice.

    News & analysis delivered directly to your inbox
    Register today to receive our range of news alerts including daily and weekly briefings

    Money Marketing Events
    Be the first to hear about our industry leading conferences, awards, roundtables and more.

    Research and insight
    Take part in and see the results of Money Marketing's flagship investigations into industry trends.

    Have your say
    Only registered users can post comments. As the voice of the adviser community, our content generates robust debate. Sign up today and make your voice heard.

    Register now

    Having problems?

    Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3712

    Lines are open Monday to Friday 9:00am -5.00pm