At the core of our own brand sits an ethos of constant improvement that starts with personal development.

October 2015

 

Thoughts…

 

 

 

 

I like Teslas. Their first model, a two-seater, was built just up the road alongside the Lotus factory.

One of my friends ran the UK end of the operation from the largish industrial unit where they were glued together, which was how I came to get a spin in one of the pocket rockets. Being shot from zero-to-infinity in the blink of an eye with an acceleration that just kept coming, no hesitation for gear changes just pure uninterrupted power, was impressive – although being told that the very early models went equally as fast in reverse did have the effect of making me wonder what else they’d not realised. It would have been silent too, had the legendary Lotus build quality not spread like some contagion across the site resulting in panels with such variable gaps that it literally whistled though the country lanes. 

This week saw Elon Musk unveil the Tesla X, a large 7-seater SUV that will hit 60 in significantly less time that it will have taken you to read this sentence.  I thought it looked pretty good. The falcon wing doors are a tad bling for my tastes but I could easily picture three generations of Rosses in it, squabbling their way to the seaside. The audience at the unveiling was ecstatic. As each feature was revealed their rhapsody reached new heights. The front doors are pretty conventional but happen to open as you approach. OK, it’s a nice gimmick but from the crowd’s reaction you’d be forgiven for thinking they were a portal to another dimension.

Of course the event had been planned months in advance but news from VW just a week earlier couldn’t have been better timed. Or worse, if you happen to drive a diesel (which I do) or own shares in VW (which, thankfully, I don’t).

This tendency for the best laid schemes of mice and men to ‘gang oft agley’ was explored in ‘Is Planning Dead?’, one of the sessions the UEA ran on their MBA refresher day. It turned out to be an interesting workshop that had me thinking of parallels with knowledge management.

Knowledge comes in two flavours – explicit knowledge, which is the stuff you can write down in textbooks and pass exams on, and tacit knowledge, which is the stuff we know without really realising we know it.  If you like, explicit knowledge is the ‘know what’ while tacit knowledge is the ‘know how’.  Of the two, tacit knowledge is arguably the more valuable. I’m not sure how they work these days but in the 70s and 80s when I took on apprentices they split their time between day release at college (gaining explicit knowledge) and working alongside a tradesman (getting their tacit knowledge).

The essence of the MBA workshop was that if we can’t predict the future (and the VW revelations were just one of several examples drawn from just that week’s news) then is there any point in strategic planning? Thankfully for someone who makes his living by helping people plan, the conclusion was that planning is not dead but that a firm’s strategy should focus on how things are done rather than what is done. A tacit rather than an explicit strategy as it were. This approach is likely to result in an organisation that is better able to react quickly to the googlies life has a tendency to bowl.

Of course this is hardly a revelation – a firm’s culture, ‘the way we do things around here’ has long been recognised as a key element of success – but it was useful to be reminded of it.

This also chimed well with the theme of Paul Pester’s talk at our office-warming event. For those of you who couldn’t make it, Dr Pester explained how he had dusted down the old TSB name and built a successful challenger bank by focusing on brand values – which is really another way of describing culture. Harnessing the founding principles of the Trustee Savings Bank he has created a genuine shared vision in which he and those working with him obviously passionately believe.  The audience was certainly sold on the idea – the most common comment after the event was ‘I think I’ll switch to TSB!’

Later, over a couple of beers he described what he was doing at TSB as a massive brand experiment. If so, it’s one that is working. TSB regularly signs more new customers, and loses fewer, than its rivals and it attracts them without the need to pay them to move. Focussing on how they do things rather than what they do is certainly working for TSB.

Back in the real world at Chadwicks, we’ve had some exciting changes over the last few weeks. September saw us become Directly Authorised with the FCA. As the firm continues to grow this was a natural next step and ensures we can continue to offer truly independent advice.

At the core of our own brand sits an ethos of constant improvement that starts with personal development. The deal is that if you work with us you have to study for further qualifications, meaning everyone in the firm is actively learning. This results in a steady stream of exam successes.

This quarter has seen Radi gain her Charter from the CISI and Daniel has now passed two of the three units for his Masters in Wealth Management. We’ve also been joined by Olivia who, like Radi, looks like she’s heading for a Distinction in her Economics Masters and Cameron who, like Daniel, has been awarded a Starred First in his Economics BSc. We are very fortunate to be able to attract such high calibre people and I feel we are building a team for the future.

A valid criticism of our approach is that while our young team is well qualified they lack experience. To counter this, we are delighted that Dr Antony Jackson accepted our invitation to sit on our investment committee. A CFA Charter holder and former trader, Antony is currently an Assistant Professor in Financial Economics at the UEA. He is a great asset who is already making his mark on our investment strategies. He will also be helping train our bright young things. Antony’s speciality is in ‘Quants’ – quantitative analysis that sits beside the fundamental analysis. We now have six Economics graduates on the team – which should make for some interesting exchanges of views if nothing else!

We have also made our first tentative steps towards a Robo-advice service with a web-based support solution for Automatic Enrolment. If successful this will form the foundation for a more extensive offering. The full portal is being built as I speak and is the result of months of preparation. Our initial market testing looks very promising – I’m just keeping my fingers crossed that we haven’t missed the financial services equivalent of Tesla’s reverse gear…

 

Richard Ross

October 2015


This newsletter is intended for information only and does not represent personalised financial advice. If you require advice in respect of your financial planning, you should contact us. Past performance is not a guide to future performance. The information in this newsletter was correct as at Oct 6, 2015 but may not apply at the time of reading.

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