Rapid rise of Neptune founder’s son concerns investors

‘It poses the obvious question of nepotism’


The elevation of Robin Geffen’s son from graduate analyst to assistant fund manager at Neptune Investment Management should raise alarm bells for investors, say commentators.

Willian Geffen, 24, who joined as a graduate last year, has been promoted on the £70m Global Technology fund, as well as the £110m Global Alpha fund and £4m Global Smaller Companies fund.

He joined the firm founded by his father from the University of Oxford on an analyst internship in July 2018 before being promoted to a technology analyst three months later, according to his Linkedin profile. In February 2019 he was promoted to senior analyst in the investment team.

Geffen’s promotion was unveiled alongside a slew of appointments at the Hammersmith-based fund house, including Neptune CIO James Dowey stepping up to run the Global Equities fund in place of Geffen.

‘It’s something that would concern me’

Chelsea Financial Services managing director Darius McDermott says going from an analyst with one year’s experience to managing funds is “a very early elevation” and something that would concern him if he were invested in the funds.

While the funds Geffen will help run are comparatively small, McDermott said “it would certainly raise alarm bells for me, for somebody so young to be running those funds and when Robin is his father it poses the obvious question of nepotism.”

It is unclear what Geffen’s role as assistant manager on the trio of funds will entail.

Portfolio Adviser asked Neptune for clarification on this point but was sent a statement confirming the recent appointments at the fund house, including a comment about the investment team “currently producing one of its best ever period of investment performance”.

Oxbridge pipeline of talent

McDermott notes that Neptune has “always had an interesting policy … of giving clever, young people that come out of Oxford or Cambridge funds in their mid to late-20’s”.

“Neptune has always promoted youth with some decent successes; however, this does seem quite rapid,” said Shore Financial Planning director Ben Yearsley.

Yearsley could not think of anyone else in the funds industry who had enjoyed such a meteoric rise from analyst to assistant manager.

“Neptune is a boutique firm, and so people are likely to be able to move up the ranks quicker than at a larger asset manager,” said Laura Suter, personal finance analyst at AJ Bell.

“However, we’d expect all staff at a fund manager to be appointed on their merit and for there to be a thorough hiring processes to be in place – as an investor you want to know that a fund manager has decent experience before they are handed the reins to actually run client money.”

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