As you may have realised, we have been interviewing a number of key players within True Potential to find out more about their job roles as well as what they like to do in their free time. In our previous blog we introduced you to those members of our Investment Committee who are independent of True Potential and looked into their background and expertise in the industry.
For this week’s blog we interviewed our Investment Director, Barney Hawkins.
Could you tell us a little about your background/expertise in the financial services industry?
Most of my career has been in stock broking and wealth management. I started at Newcastle stockbrokers Wise Speke (now part of Brewin Dolphin) in the summer of 1987, a few months before the crash in October so it was an inauspicious beginning to a career in financial services. Over the intervening years I have worked for the wealth management arms of two large multinational investment banks (Merrill Lynch and UBS) as well as another smaller stock broking house, Laing and Cruickshank. In that time the world of financial services has changed significantly, mostly for the better. Technology plays a more important role, as it does generally in every walk of life, and of course the welter of Compliance, both UK generated and increasingly now of European origin, is in very sharp contrast to the “self regulation” of yesteryear. I have always worked within a small group of highly committed individuals, enjoying the intellectual challenge of the markets and the satisfaction derived from client contact. It’s important to bear in mind that the one thing that hasn’t really changed over the years is clients. They still appreciate a relationship, want good advice and demand value for money.
What is your role at True Potential?
My role at True Potential is to assist in the running of the True Potential Portfolios, understanding how our sub fund managers have positioned their respective funds and contributing to the monthly rebalancing discussions. The role also involves explaining the True Potential ethos of low cost, enhanced risk adjusted returns to potential clients and advisers and advising on the long term benefits of Advanced Diversification. As a department we also write numerous articles ranging from the Friday Economic Update, which summarises events over the past week, to the True Insight magazine which is published once a quarter. Depending on how events unfold we also write update articles covering major events such as the Brexit vote and Donald Trump’s election victory.
What does an average day look like to you?
An average day begins with reading the financial papers to keep up to date with market events. We need to have a clear understanding of what is going on in the world. A basic knowledge of factors affecting financial markets is essential if we are to challenge our sub fund managers and while only Threadneedle and Close Brothers tend to invest in direct equities, again, it is useful to have a knowledge of stock market developments in order to understand and appreciate their thinking and investment strategies.
What are you most proud of in your career to date?
Difficult to say. There have been a lot of high points. Between 1998 and 2002, as part of a small, tightly knit team, we managed to build a book of clients valued at over £650million and while this was during the madness of the dot com boom we weren’t over exposed and successfully navigated our way through the subsequent crash when the tech bubble inevitably burst. While that remains a significant achievement, often it is organising the affairs of a client of relatively modest means in such a way that they can look forward to a financially secure future that leaves you with the greatest feeling of satisfaction and a job well done.
What do you enjoy most about your current role?
Working with a team of intelligent people with a keen sense of humour to build something of lasting quality. Working for an ambitious company with a clear commitment to expanding its presence in the market place and making a real name for itself is an exciting prospect.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
This. I’d much rather explain the pros and cons of active/passive investment than write about myself.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I have two teenage children so home life is pretty full on. I row at national level which involves a lot of training both on and off the water. I also enjoy hill walking and my son is turning into a pretty good rock climber so we occasionally have a day on the crags either in Northumberland or something higher in the Lake District. A long walk with the dog (Labrador/retriever cross) is also one of life’s simple pleasures.
Anything else you think our audience would like to know?
The best is yet to come. In life generally and especially at True Potential.