What was your first job within financial services?
I joined BZW in 1997. Three months after joining, the business blew up; I think my responsibility was limited.
Given a choice between switching to Credit Suisse or staying with Barclays, I stayed – for 14 years, mainly in the wealth division.
Describe your current role
I run Architas, an independent asset management firm wholly owned by the Axa Group. We focus on helping advisers deliver a strong, credible investment solution to their clients in an increasingly complex regulatory environment.
Our strengths are in detailed fund research, due diligence and investment management, selecting among the best-known asset managers in the world. It is something we are passionate about. About half of our assets relate to the UK, the remainder to our business in Europe, so there is a fair amount of travel. In addition to my role at Architas, I am on the management committee of Axa Wealth.
What is the biggest challenge?
The business has tripled in size in three years, going from 30 employees to 85 and from loss-making to highly profitable. The total assets managed and advised on are worth about £13bn. Managing this expansion, and keeping the feel of a small boutique, is hard as the business grows, but we work hard and have fun. It is a balance.
What is the highlight of your career to date?
Building this business. In the worst financial crisis in living memory, we have delivered significant business growth in each of the past three years. Over the same period we have won numerous awards for investment performance and service. I’m proud of the team.
We wanted to build a proposition that did exactly what it said on the tin. Investors would know and understand our benchmark and choose from passive, blended and active fund options, along with income-generating and specialist funds. Before City life, I worked as an EU diplomat in South Africa and on the Middle East peace process. It was probably the best training for life in a complex organisation.
What is your career ambition?
Build a financial services business that delivers value and relevance to people. If we get that right, growth and profits will follow.
We are now well placed to build on our success and that of our partnership approach with advisers. We recognise that our service to advisers and investors needs to be in a variety of formats and accessible in person, on the phone and through new digital channels. So we are expanding our client communications and helping advisers to engage with their clients.
What advice would you give to someone starting in the industry?
Create your own opportunities, make connections, network and never leave a meeting or discussion without a lead. Do something that you enjoy and believe in.
Hans Georgeson is managing director at Architas