Quilter’s Alan McIntosh: My biggest beef with wealth management

Alan McIntosh’s 36-year investment career started with a difficult choice between the humanities and economics but while the numbers game won out he has utilised his love of literature in his approach to business.

Quilter's Alan McIntosh: My biggest beef with wealth management

Torn between his love of English literature and a curiosity about economic markets, Alan McIntosh says he ended up working in the investment industry by chance.

While at school, McIntosh was undecided as to what he should study at university. “There was a tussle between my English teacher, who said, ‘You must go and do English, you’re by far the best pupil’ and my economics teacher, who said, ‘You’re really good at this, you should study economics’.”

At the time, the economy wasn’t in great shape, unemployment was high and job prospects were poor, and the decision in the end was a case of head versus heart.

“The head said I didn’t want to be another unemployed English graduate and although I did love economics, I thought it might give me a better chance of getting a job.”

It was while studying economics at the Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh that McIntosh became interested in financial markets, and it was then he realised investment was what he wanted to do. In Edinburgh during the ’80s there was “a burgeoning investment industry”.

“I knew what I wanted to do but wasn’t sure how to get there. But then I saw an advert in The Scotsman for a trainee investment manager at Scottish Life. I applied and got the job.

“I cut my teeth analysing US equities, then after two years moved to the UK desk, eventually running the desk.”

After eight years at Scottish Life, McIntosh left his role as head of UK equities and moved to London to work for Municipal Mutual Insurance. Later he moved into institutional fund management at BZW Investment Management, now known as Barclays.

Forging a path

In 1994, McIntosh joined Credit Suisse Asset Management. It was at this point that his career changed course, he explains, as he moved from institutional fund management and running funds to creating an investment process for an asset management business.

He says: “The reason for that was because Scottish Life was quite small. The insurance company I moved to in London was also quite small but Barclays was huge. It was a cultural thing.

“I didn’t like being part of a large company, as a small cog in a big wheel. Maybe it was egotistical, because I didn’t have as much influence as I was used, but I weathered it for a couple of years.”

The idea of creating something at Credit Suisse from “a blank sheet of paper” was much more appealing and he soon forged a path into the private client world.

After five years at Credit Suisse Asset Management, McIntosh, together with a team of nine, moved to Laing & Cruickshank Investment Management to create an investment process for wealth managers and private client investment managers.

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