Meet the manager
Watch the full interview with Sam
Married, 3 children
Radley College and Newcastle University
Started at JM Finn
Frantoio, always fun
Most proud sporting moment
Beating Paul McGinly at golf (sadly only over 1 hole!)
Biggest fashion fail
Yarmouth, Isle of Wight
In your view, what are the big issues that charities are having to deal with today, in terms of managing their existing assets?
I have written in previous editions of Prospects on the challenge faced by charities in maintaining income levels. Whilst this is still pertinent today perhaps a bigger challenge is the case for good governance and leadership. Recent high profile cases including the closure of Kids Company and issues at Oxfam have only heightened trustees’ governance and legislation responsibilities. Trustees have to comply with certain legal requirements and duties when investing their charity’s assets for financial return. In addition the Charities Act 2016, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) and CC14 (the Charity Commission’s investment guide for trustees), are all helpful in parts but can lack substance in some areas and are unnecessarily detailed and confusing in others. One has to remember that trusteeship is a voluntary role and it shouldn’t be daunting but rewarding. A good sensible approach to risk and governance should at least in part start to ease the burden.
How do you and your team try to help with the aforementioned challenges?
We are privileged to work with a broad variety of charities thanks in part to our client driven approach. Our focus on a high quality service along with a deep understanding of a charity’s requirements has ensured we are well equipped to deal with the many challenges. We also run small trustee training sessions to help trustees deal with particular issues which are also a good opportunity for trustees to engage with one another and share their knowledge and experience.
Does the latest interest rate rise materially affect your portfolio positioning?
No. With the majority of asset classes remaining expensive we will continue to invest portfolios with a bias towards equities given the attractive yields on offer, however we remain acutely aware that we are closer to the end of the business cycle than the beginning. We will continue to adopt a defensive stance albeit we do think we can make further progress.
Presumably income generation is a key goal; how have you maintained appropriate levels in this low interest rate environment?
Pleasingly income levels have been maintained, albeit with a perceived increase in risk as equity allocations have increased and other asset classes have been introduced. Investments in infrastructure projects have been central to our approach in maintaining income levels whilst property has also played an integral role. Where we do hold fixed income, outside of a few individual issues, we have tried to invest with fund managers that have a more active approach to management whilst complementing each other with differing investment styles.
What’s next for the team?
Our primary objective is always to help our existing charity clients grow their assets in real terms whilst providing them with a decent income; secondly if we can further educate trustees and help them with the increasing regulatory burden then that would be a bonus; and finally, it would be fantastic to get to know some new charities and help them achieve their investment goals.