Six months after taking up his position as chief executive of Jupiter, Edward Bonham-Carter is feeling optimistic. Having settled former CEO John Duffield's claim for unfair dismissal out of court, the company has finally severed all connections with its founder, leaving it free to make a fresh start.
Although both sides are claiming victory, Jupiter has been quick to emphasise that Duffield accepted £10m less than he had claimed. More important, he has agreed, along with others at his new fund management operation, New Star, to resign from the boards of Jupiter's investment trusts.
Bonham-Carter says: “I think the settlement was good for both sides. No one really wan ted it to go to court exc ept, perhaps, for a couple of journa lists. It draws a line under the past and allows us to move forward.”
But IFAs and investors will be awaiting the next instalment of the saga when Duff ield is freed from the bounds of his Jupiter contract at the end of May. Several of Jupi ter's highest-profile fund managers – most notably Tony Nutt, Philip Gibbs and Rich ard Pease, who were set to testify for Duff ield at the trial – have been tipped to be top of Duffield's poaching list next summer.
However, Bonham-Carter is confident Jupiter will succeed in putting together an incentive package to dissuade more staff from leaving.
“It is up to us to come up with a new incentive scheme which gives people the reason to stay. They have said: 'Come up with a reasonable package and we will stay.' “The really big question if I was an inv estor in Jupiter – which I am – is do we still have the ability to continue to hire talent? I think Justin Seager's app ointment is an indication that we do. Even if other people leave – which I do not think they will – we still have one of the low est turn over rates in the City.”
Bonham-Carter believes Jupiter's biggest appeal to fund managers is its liberal regime. Although he insists funds are run on a team basis, Bonham-Carter says Jupiter managers are given much more autonomy than many of its rivals. Indeed, this was a key reason cited by Dresd ner's Justin Seager when he quit the German fund manager for Jupiter in September.
Bonham-Carter says: “A lot of the big houses are losing managers to hedge funds but other managers are looking to join a smaller boutique where they have more freedom. I think Jupiter is very much one of those.”
Jupiter's main concession within the Duffield settlement was the release to Duffield of special situa tions manager and executive management committee member Alan Miller. Former Johnson Fry man ager Ken neth Warnock is set to take over Miller's fund management responsibilities but Bonham-Car ter says he has not yet deci ded who will take Miller's place on the executive committee.
Since Duffield's departure, the Jupiter board has comprised group finance director Jonathan Carey, head of international Mark Sch ue ller, as well as Bonham-Carter and Miller. But Bonham-Carter has even hinted that Miller may not be replaced at all.
Since Bonham-Carter took over from Duffi eld in May, there has been a great deal of speculation over whe ther he will be able to handle his three roles at Jupiter. On top of his res ponsibilities as chief executive, he has maintained his role as chief investment officer and continued to run the UK growth fund.
His fund management res ponsibilities do not appear to have been neglected. The UK growth fund is 18th out of over 300 funds in the UK all companies sector for the past three months and it is one of the only funds to have delivered a positive return over that period. However, Bon ham-Carter does not deny there is a possibility the fund will be handed over to Seager in the near future.
He says: “If I can still do it and if I still want to do it, then I will continue to manage it. We have got a range of choices.”
Meanwhile, if Miller is not rep laced on the executive commi ttee, each of the rem aining members will be left with grea ter responsibility. It would seem unlikely that Bonham-Carter will take on any more without passing on some of his current load.
Nevertheless, Bonham-Car ter's meteoric rise to the top has illustrated he has no aversion to hard work. Educated at Harrow and then Manchester University, he began his career in the fund management industry at Schroders in 1982.
Having joined Jupiter in 1994, it has taken him only six years to rise to the top job at the age of 40.
Bonham-Carter is by no means the stereotypical fund manager, either. Despite being a millionaire, he still cycles the five-and-a-half miles from his house in Barnes to Jupiter's Hyde Park offices every morning. He does not play golf and is not particularly interested in fast cars. Instead, he says he prefers to spend his spare time with his two children.
So how has he managed the responsibility of taking on three jobs in the day and two children in the evening? “I have been busy,” he says.