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.
What does the three-year strategy entail?
We have already reset the company culture and we implemented what we have called our Values, Purpose, Vision & Personality framework, which we want all of our colleagues to contribute to, so it has been built from the bottom rather than cascaded down from the top.
We are committed to investing more in the platform side of the business and have been doing so over the last six-to-nine months. I see this as a real technology play.
We had probably under-invested and not launched enough new products to support our funds and model portfolios over the past few years.
So over the past few months, we have done that through our retirement income service and our passive Pathway range of model portfolios.
Aside from that, it is about maintaining good management from a governance perspective and ready to handle any regulatory changes.
Do you have any plans to launch new products or expand the business?
Now that we have launched our passive Pathway model portfolios, we will launch them as standalone funds shortly.
I also want to do more with the retirement income service. There are some very serious concerns about people entering retirement with reduced pension pots and we have some great tools that can help advisers to deal with this.
New investment in our platform is already on the agenda, so our customers can expect to see further enhancements.
Finally, we are backed by highly credible long-term private capital in [investment trust owner] Caledonia Investments, and there will inevitably be market opportunities for inorganic as well as organic growth - when the time is right.
You mentioned that gender diversity has played a big part in some of the business decisions you have made. Why is diversity important to you as a business?
Aside from the fact diversity just makes sense from a business perspective, I am the father of two daughters, so the subject of gender equality is as important for me at home as it is at work.
I have often managed teams that have more women in than men. It is not necessarily that I embarked on achieving this, it was simply a case of choosing the people with the right skills for the job.
As an industry we desperately need to encourage more women into investment management and this needs to start at school age.
Here at 7IM we have good representation in our executive team. At a middle management level, we need to keep building that pipeline of future leaders.
We have launched an internal programme to encourage this. It is important and healthy.
How is 7IM coping with the pandemic from a business perspective?
I was leading the wealth management and retail division at Citibank during the 2008 Global Financial Crisis, and that was one of the most challenging periods in my career.
Even though there are obviously benefits that come from one's experience for me,
I am a forward-looking individual. I look at where the business is now and I just see an increasingly positive and brighter future; the team is in better shape and the business is in a better place.
I do not see any reason why we cannot exit this difficult period with more confidence than we entered it.