Investment Week speaks to Dean Proctor, who recently celebrated his one-year anniversary at the helm of investment management firm 7IM, about his plans to grow the company, which new products are in the pipeline and how the business has coped with operating amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Prior to joining 7IM, Dean Proctor has been a managing director at Barclays, the CEO at Arbuthnot Latham and a managing director at Citibank.
He also spent more than five years living in the Middle East, where he worked as executive general manager for the Commercial Bank of Qatar.
First of all, congratulations on your one-year work anniversary. What inspired the move from Barclays to 7IM?
I have loved being a CEO in previous roles, but I became more attracted to the asset management and wealth management industry after I returned to the consumer banking sector.
My experience there made me realise that, as great as our industry is, there is still a huge amount of opportunities to improve.
I think a lot of this positive change will be led by technology. When it comes to procedures and paperwork that we still apply in this sector, I feel we are decades behind what has been revolutionised in retail banking.
I am, by nature, a change agent, so the reason I joined the firm stretches beyond the desire and attractiveness of the sector itself.
I do see opportunities, and I really want 7IM to be at the forefront of driving these changes across the sector.
The current environment has forced the asset management industry to embrace technology more. What has the lockdown meant for how 7IM operates now, and could it spark permanent technological advancement in the industry?
This is a real-life test of our technology infrastructure. We have 350 people working remotely and we are conducting client meetings, internal discussions and webinars. We are still dealing and trading across our portfolios.
In some regards, [the lockdown] has enhanced [our customer service] because it has forced us to dramatically step up the quality and frequency of our communications.
More generally, the lockdown has forced the industry to think much more about digitalisation. We are still in a sector where there is a huge amount of paperwork and administration that takes place.
We have been able to move to away from this very rapidly and, while the experience is challenging in some ways, finer details will be resolved.
It will drive the pace of change a great deal faster, and I am hopeful that 7IM is going to be at the front of the pack leading that charge.
Pandemic aside, what have been some of the biggest changes to have been rolled out across 7IM over the last year?
There have been a lot of changes. I took over from the firm's seven original founders who had been running the business from day one and for more than 17 years, so there was undeniably going to be a period of change.
I have changed the executive team quite significantly over the past 12 months. It is also more diverse. We are now approximately 50/50 in terms of men and women.
Saying that, we still very much appreciate the firm's core values. The business was created to be a market challenger and an innovator.
I do not want us to lose some of the core ingredients that have become embedded in the firm. But there was a need to take a deep look inside the business and ask ourselves what has not been working. We did this throughout the summer last year and a three-year strategy was created.