Q: What is the biggest change you have seen in the industry since you joined?
When I entered the City in 1991, the financial advice industry was not only over-populated but also had a bad name for selling people products they didn’t want, need or understand, with high fees that were hidden as well as nasty exit penalties.
Nowadays, well-qualified, intelligent, articulate advisers deliver goal-based and holistic financial planning to a broad range of clientele. They recommend solutions involving simpler products, with transparent fee structures. This move, from selling products to solutions, has made a real difference to countless people’s lives and wellbeing. We can all be proud to work in the industry – and proud of the journey it has been on.
Q: What is the investment topic most often brought up by your clients?
I hate to say it, but it tends to be whichever asset class is most overvalued at the time and should be given the widest birth. Examples that spring to mind over the years would be internet stocks in 1999, structured credit in 2007, ‘Faang’ stocks in 2020, cryptocurrency in 2021 and more!
The investment world can be very fashion-driven. Our job is to sometimes save clients from themselves or from what is just a passing trend.
Q: Which piece of regulation – positive or negative – makes the biggest impact on your day-to-day role?
There haven’t been many regulatory changes that have been welcomed by the industry with open arms. However, with hindsight we have often seen the benefit of updates and changes to regulation.
The Retail Distribution Review was an excellent initiative by the Financial Services Authority, as it was known at the time, which has now been imitated around the world. It forced bad, lazy advisers out of the industry by asking them to take exams. It also stamped out the terrible practice of allowing product providers to pay advisers for selling their products, which was a horrible conflict of interest. Lastly, it started the drive towards full cost transparency.
Q: What single change would you make to the wealth management industry?
If I could wave a magic wand, I would make it an industry that attracted lots of high-quality female advisers and investment analysts. We are all trying our best to recruit and retain female talent, but there still seems to be a number of barriers for women to enter the field and pursue a career in finance.
Q: What advice would you give to someone just starting in the industry?
First of all, I would say congratulations for picking this industry, it has a great future. Second, I would say there is limitless demand for bright, nice, can-do people, who actually care about doing a good job for clients. If you can tick all these boxes, and maybe pass a few exams along the way, the sky is the limit.
Before founding Saltus in 2004, Jon Macintosh held various senior roles in the institutional asset management world. These included being managing director of Lehman Brothers, where he was co-head of the European Mezzanine Credit Fund, a partner of Morgan Grenfell Private Equity managing a €1.5bn (£1.3bn) private equity buyout fund, and a UK equities fund manager at Schroders.
This article first appeared in the October edition of Portfolio Adviser Magazine