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Moving story

Back in 1994, having trawled the City for openings in investment management, I found myself having a pre-finals interview with Tim Cockerill at Whitechurch Securities. From the glamour of the Square Mile, with a degree in financial services from the aptly named University of WOE (West of England), I started work as an investment analyst in the madness that is the Gloucester Road in Bristol.

I nearly resigned after my first week (had my student loan not needed repaying) as I sorted response cards from a mailshot on the launch of Prolific Income IT. In my worst “I didn’t get a degree to end up doing this”, I questioned my future. When I left the company eight years later, I had learnt a lot about myself and the industry. For that I thank Tim, who was my boss for six years, his boss Mark Dampier and Kean Seager, who owns the business. As regards the investment industry, there are few more knowledgeable colleagues I could have had at that stage of my career.

I passed the investment management asset allocation qualification and then the investment management certificate. This enabled me to be a discretionary port-folio manager and I was soon co-managing 50m of collectives, much of it split invest- ment trusts. Blimey, those things could be volatile.

Never leave your colleague a sell order on a PA holding, go on holiday to Cuba, read about the Russian default crisis while sitting by the pool, then come back to find your shares worth 50 per cent less. It gave me experience of deal- ing with market makers on a daily basis. I felt I was finally living the Bud Fox dream (watch the film Wall Street).

By the millennium, I was spending quite a bit of time with journalists, creating model portfolios and recommending funds as well as commenting on issues in the national/trade press. I am also a bit of a techie at heart (the company representative on a Y2K course), so was naturally hooked on the whole technological revolution. Unfortunately, that swayed some of my recommendations NetNet, Amerindo You cannot back winners all the time.

Ironically, one of my proudest work moments was non-investment related. As senior investment director at the time, I drove the company’s relocation to their present offices. Sounds trivial but having been there from contract negotiation, selling the existing building, humping boxes to scrubbing the stairs on a grade 2 listed building the night before we opened was, strangely, an enjoyable experience.9/11 and a two-year bear market changed many things for many people and a year later we parted company. I took some time out before joining Lindsay Welbeck, an IFA in Solihull, on a consultancy basis, looking at many operational aspects of their business. This short-term appointment saw them act on my most important piece of advice. To carry on in business and get the req-uired PI cover, they needed an external, independent review of the business. It worked. Birmingham also exposed me to some of the best curry houses.

I joined Churchill Investments in April 2004. I had known the MD, Jamie Ware, for a number of years from his hugely successful launch of the F&C high-income plan and we had always got on well. An initial “discussion” with him and the then head of research, Malcolm Weightman, was conducted over a couple of cold beers at an industry conference in Rome some years ago. Years later, with Malcolm due to retire, a position presented itself and the rest, as they say, is history. The hugely knowledgeable and experienced team at Churchill meant that I had found my spiritual home.

The advent of supermarkets/platforms and increased use of technology means that many IFAs are discretionary managers in all but name. I focus my time on what I have been trained to do – analyse funds, managers and markets and try to help the team add value to client portfolios through fund selection and asset allocation.

Our link with Intelligent Capital in Glasgow provides a natural extension for the work that I do as they utilise our research capabilities and attend our monthly meetings, where we always have fund manager representation. I wonder if more IFAs should outsource investment research?

Warren Perry is head of research at Churchill Investments

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