Feeney on taking things back to basics

Old Mutual Wealth’s chief lays down gauntlet to the competition.

Feeney on taking things back to basics

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“In 1967, 8.1m people personally – not through a stakeholder or anything like that – personally saved for their retirement. Last year, that figure was 2.7m. So we set about asking why every hard-working family in Britain couldn’t have their own investment portfolio, as well-designed if not better than those put together for people who have hitherto had X million in savings,” the chief executive added.

“I feel really privileged to be given this incredible opportunity to help create something that will help our nation.”

With bold, multi-channel ambitions to “be the best” that show no signs of abating Feeney is taking his new responsibility very seriously, with a £150m investment into the platform – the spine on which his four newly aligned "planets" can rotate.

Planets aligned

“You can keep tinkering at the edges or you can do it properly. I’m not just building a business to make money, because I don’t think that’s the right way to approach things. I want to build a business with a social purpose and make a real impact on the UK.

“That’s why we’re aligning the four planets of advice (or distribution), the platform, wealth solutions and asset management and then we have taken a big decision to bring in the leading platform technology from Australia, spending £150m on our platform alone this year and next year, which we believe is a massive commitment to the market.”

Adamant that his latest network purchase will not ostracise independent or non-Intrinsic advisers (which also includes Positive Solutions) and was attracted to the group for its quality of management team, led by Lord Leitch and driven by Richard Freeman, and the control it applies to its adviser infrastructure, from technology to investment solutions, internal processes and beyond.

While he says there are no plans at present to make any changes to the Pos Sol or Intrinsic brands, there may be some more obvious Old Mutual “endorsement” further down the line.

“But it’s not about painting everything one colour,” he adds.

Emerging markets – the next move?

Bringing together the platform, the investment and wealth management capabilities of Old Mutual and Skandia provides a core to fulfil his mission statement of “enabling positive futures” for his customers.

He is determined to attract the best possible fund managers to working either for OMGI or through strategic outsourced mandates, and insists Richard Buxton’s hire was nothing to do with his already having run mandates for Skandia Investment Group and across its Spectrum funds, calling it a “nice coincidence, nothing more”.

Old Mutual Global Investors’ boasts an increasingly strong suite of products, with the equities team led by Buxton and fixed income desk led by Stewart Cowley. With further strengths in multi-manager and multi-asset under John Ventre, Ian Heslop’s global equity absolute return product and Paul Simpson’s £1bn hedge fund business, the obvious hole is that of emerging markets.

Feeney’s concession but unwillingness to be drawn further suggest a hire, acquisition or strategic alliance may be just around the corner.

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