Mike Webb is one of the City of London’s best-known asset management figures. The chief executive of Rathbone Unit Trust Management, he is spearheading the firms first-ever launch into the offshore financial products market.
In a special feature taken from the May edition of International Investment magazine, deputy editor Gary Robinson visited the company’s Mayfair headquarters, and found Webb in a bullish mood.
Mike Webb is no stranger to a challenge. He took to the City like a duck to water in his early 20s, but only after a brief flirtation with fame as an actor and stand-up comedian. “It was terrifying, but I had the arrogance of youth so it was OK,” he says.
“Although the bank didn’t agree with me and didn’t actually find it that funny. And I realised I wasn’t good enough, so I had to find a proper job.”
Since then, starting out at Hambros Fund Management in 1986, he has risen through the ranks of every firm that he has worked at.
“One of the areas that I enjoyed the most is taking small businesses and making them larger.
“I had a long career developing businesses like Invesco Perpetual. I had also been at Hermes as business development manager learning the institutional side. But my heart was still in retail. When the role [chief executive of Rathbone Unit Trust Management (RUTM)] came up it was very interesting.
“This was a business that had done really well in the early 2000s and had a tough 2008-9 and I felt that I could join and really make a difference and build the business from there.”
|2010 to date|
|CEO of Rathbone Unit Trust Management|
|Head of business development at Hermes Fund Managers.|
|Sabbatical to travel|
|CEO of Invesco Perpetual|
|CEO, UK Retail, GT Global,|
|Sales and marketing director Prolific Financial Management (1986 – 1991)|
When he joined RUTM five years ago, the company’s assets under management stood at around £750m. Now they’re up to £3.1bn. And speaking to Webb, you get the sense that he has only just begun to get started.
Known by many as the head of Invesco Perpetual as the firm took on all comers in the early 2000s, he previously also led retail charges at GT Global (which was bought by Invesco) and Prolific Financial Management (which later became Aberdeen). And he has since achieved success as head of business development at Hermes Fund Managers, before joining Rathbones in 2010.
‘BRITISH AND PROUD’
Now with 30 years in the industry under his belt, Webb in 2016 is older and perhaps wiser as Rathbones launches its first four offshore funds (see box below).
He believes that the ‘British and proud’ tag that Rathbones has been synonymous with will help Euro- pean and global investors gain an appetite for this new range of funds.
“Particularly in the expat market anything that is British and you are a British expat, it is going to appeal,” says Webb.
“We’ve been beginning to develop relationships with advisers that deal predominantly with expatriates as well as life companies and QROPS (Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes) providers because most advisers tend to do their busi- ness via those routes.
“There was a lot of infrastructure to put into place. So this is if you like the last piece of the jigsaw.
“Europe is a natural extension for us as the majority of expats are based there, but let us remember that Lux- embourg is not just a base for Europe it is actually a base for the rest of the world.”
Other developments beckon in future. Rathbones’ main headquar- ters is moving from Mayfair back to the City in early 2017. And acquisitions and new fund launches are likely if the fit is right.
“We absolutely look at acquisi- tions,” says Webb.
“We’ve got a good reputation for that. As a result, we get to see most if not all that come to the market. The most important thing is that there has to be a cultural fit.
“The two main things are the funds launch in May and we are talking with a couple of major cornerstone investors about another fund launch later in the year. But that would entirely depend on those conversa- tions so I’m not in the position to talk about that just yet.
“EUROPE IS A NATURAL EXTENSION FOR US AS THE MAJORITY OF EXPATS ARE BASED THERE”
“And we need to broaden and deepen distribution. We are talking about how we better service UK and international advisers over time. And we need to make sure that we are investing enough in our investment resources, because at the end of the day that is our genuine engine.
“There is nothing particularly clever about that. But, then, there shouldn’t be.” ■
|Rathbones’ new Luxembourg-based funds range|
|Rathbone UTM Ethical Bond fund|
|Rathbone UTM Multi-Asset Total Return Portfolio|
|Rathbone UTM Multi-Asset Strategic Growth Portfolio|
|Rathbone UTM Multi-Asset Enhanced Growth Portfolio|
|(Funds set for launch May 2016 – pending regulatory approval)|
To view our exclusive ‘Big Interview’ video feature with Mike Webb visit International Investment’s video section at www.internationalinvestment.net.