The last couple of years have been some of the most challenging for investment managers. We talk to Nigel Crawford, head of Quilter’s Belfast office, to hear more about the company and his views on the best place to invest your money.
What is your role at Quilter?
I manage the Belfast branch of Quilter, which opened in early 2008. As head of the branch, it’s my role to make sure that the team here delivers the personal service and private client portfolio management expertise for which Quilter is known. I also have my own clients, whose investments I manage and with whom I liaise on a regular basis.
Tell us why you decided to become an investment manager.
My first involvement in finances was when I was asked to be treasurer of a youth organisation when I was much younger! I’ve always had a keen interest in stock markets and how business works and have been fortunate in being able to enjoy a good career in wealth management in Belfast.
What are the biggest challenges and opportunities facing the business at present?
The two years since we established the office in Belfast have been very challenging for the economy and stock markets so we’re even more delighted that we’ve been able to build up the business in that time. It’s been very exciting to be part of growing a business in Belfast and helping extend Quilter’s reach in Northern Ireland. The challenge for us is to keep growing and to help our clients achieve their investment objectives.
What are your views on the local and global economy in the coming months?
Globally, central banks have allowed the economic recovery to develop unimpeded, but now steps are being taken to reduce the unprecedented stimulus measures. Recent surveys of business conditions indicate that growth is sustainable beyond the inventory cycle, albeit at a more moderate pace than normal for the developed world. Money markets are not anticipating rates to rise much this year and many businesses have taken difficult decisions in a bid to position for future growth.
Locally, there is a more positive feeling in the market now, although an understandably heightened sense of risk awareness. Outside investment into Northern Ireland is continuing and this can only help the overall economy and we are already beginning to see signs of this happening.
How do you see the Quilter business developing over the next few years in Northern Ireland?
We expect business growth from clients of intermediaries whose main priority is to deliver overall financial planning, leaving the investment management of client portfolios to us. New legislation will soon require many financial advisers to review the way in which they operate and we look forward to working closely with these advisers and helping to manage their clients’ investments.
As an investor, why should I choose to work with Quilter rather than with the competition?
Quilter’s regional network is one of the best in the industry. It’s essential that clients have direct access to the people who manage their money and this means that we need expert investment managers who can also build really strong client relationships. Quilter is also very good at client communication. Whatever is happening in the markets, clients need to be informed about what is happening to their investments and what we are doing to help them achieve their specific financial goals – whether it’s to fund retirement or provide an inheritance for future generations.
How has the investment management industry changed since the onset of the credit crunch and recent recession?
The industry certainly came under focus during the downturn and, thankfully, this has encouraged greater transparency and openness. There has been renewed emphasis on “risk management” and on educating investors about what “risk” and “reward” really mean. Financial education is key to helping younger generations understand budgeting and to make sensible monetary decisions so that they are better equipped to plan for their financial needs now and in the future.