Interview with Lee Robertson of Investment Quorum
International eXCellence Magazine interviews Lee Robertson of Investment Quorum, Award Winning Wealth Management Firm.
-What is your background and education?
I grew up in Brechin, a small Scottish town in Angus. If I am honest I was a disinterested school student and ended up joining the Royal Navy straight from school. I did eight years in the Communications and Intelligence branch serving in a variety of roles both onboard ship and ashore. Apart from the usual industry professional examinations I have just completed a Bachelors Degree via Edinburgh Napier University in Financial Services and Marketing. Better late than never I suppose.
-How did you start in wealth management?
I would like to say I had a plan but really l fell into financial services when I left the armed forces as the individual who was doing my mortgage at the time was so shockingly bad I got involved to sort it out and from there I became interested and got a job. I had the usual early career start of insurance company and bank before setting up as an independent in 1995. That particular business was in conjunction with a former banking colleague and was an interesting first five years as a company owner but I think was never going to last as we were so different. I set up Investment Quorum in October 2000 and love what we do on behalf of clients.
-What have been the greatest challenges in your business?
Getting the right people for the right role and keeping them in a highly competitive market.
-What differs in your approach to wealth management?
We are very relationship and planning led. All too often I see wealth managers trying to secure client assets and then bolt some planning on to justify what they are doing. We would rather get the structures and planning right first before talking what to do about the investment part of the picture. Also as we work with entrepreneurs we completely understand that it is not just about pensions and investments, it is also about property, their business and all of the things that they have and want to do outside of their investment portfolio. I am also a firm believer in longevity of relationship as too many larger firms seem to continually chop and change relationship managers which must unsettle clients.
-What average returns have your clients seen in the last year, last three years, last ten years?
We seek to preserve the value of capital on behalf of clients and it would depend on the level of acceptable risk associated with the portfolio. Our most popular portfolios have returned the following to investors.
Portfolio 1 year 3 year 5 year
IQ Defensive 4.57% 19.51% 54.71%
IQ Balanced 6.85% 18.15% 63.23%
IQ Adventurous 6.09% 17.52% 86.90%
IQ Extra Income 6.68% 23.58% 72.46%
All figures sourced from FE Analytics, Total Return Bid-Bid (ending 31 Jan 2014)
We do not yet have ten year performance.
-What ethical changes would you make in wealth investment?
It would be around transparency of charging. It is very difficult, even with recent legislative changes for investors to get fully to the bottom of what they are paying and when. More should be done by the wealth management sector to force change from the asset managers ensuring we are able to report
-What are the most important investment lessons you have learnt?
It is virtually impossible to time the market, commit and stay in, you will be rewarded.
-What are some of the best successes you or your company have achieved?
Primarily, we virtually never lose a client and we take great pride in that. In terms of recognition we have been named as the UK’s Leading Adviser Practice for the last five years in the Aberdeen Platform Awards as well as a host of other awards. Also, we feel very privileged to be a regular contributor on SKY News on investment and wealth management matters.
-Greatest investment disasters?
I made an investment via an actor friend years ago in a company which supplied equipment to the film industry. Of course it tanked but it taught me to keep emotions out of investment.
-What are the most effective Enterprise Investment Schemes in different industries for short term investment and from an Inheritance Tax aspect?
Investors should find one with a theme that interests them. We like some of the more innovative schemes from companies such as Ingenious Investments. They have a good track record and their latest offering ‘Working Class Heroes’ dealing with a project to chronicle the rise of the iconic music and film artists of the sixties has caught our eye and we are reviewing it now.
-How do you rate the various promoters of these schemes and which would you recommend?
Be very careful, look for a strong track record with a good management team behind the scheme. There have been lots of failures over the last few years.
-Does investment need more regulation or a cultural shift?
I am never a huge advocate of more regulation but do feel that the investor needs protection. I would far rather that large organisations cleaned up their corporate cultures and put their customers back at the heart of everything they did. I believe that boutiques are demonstrably leading the way here.
– What is your investment overview of the UK and world market for the next year, three years, ten years?
Momentum appears to be behind a global recovery although there are bound to be some shocks along the way. The UK is beginning to show good signs of recovery but I worry it is still too dependent on the consumer who is being given a false sense of security by low interest rates and retailers competing very hard on pricing for market share. We need better corporate earnings and fuller order books as the cost cutting which has gone on over the last few years to buoy companies has probably run its course. We still believe the US is the global engine for recovery and it is making headway although they do need to create more real jobs as opposed to part time and seasonal labour. Whilst emerging markets are currently struggling we continue to see them as a good long term bet. In comparison to the West they have younger workforces, less social welfare spend and rapidly rising wealth leading to a growing, consuming middle class. Frontier markets are looking particularly dynamic and may lead to some great opportunities over the coming years. We remain very wary of bonds.
-What are the most interesting emerging trends for the future?
As mentioned, frontier markets look very interesting. What we currently think of as emerging markets now have wage and social pressures and it looks like there is a new wave of countries looking to get involved in the manufacturing of goods for the future. We are also keeping a keen eye on things like specialist funds involved in areas such as water because of potential supply issues and technology because of the truly staggering pace of innovation.
-What actions do you take to keep a certain quality of life?
I get to the gym, I shoot clays, I travel and I love nothing more than a good meal with good friends, either at home or out.