Avida Blog

What's in a name?

What’s in a name?

An awful lot, judging by the effort and time devoted to choosing the “right” one. Most parents will empathise, as will many pet owners. 

The same applies in the world of business. Doubtless you have heard the argument: “Our organisation needs a name that tells the world what we do and what we stand for”.  

I have often wondered about how the industry I am most familiar with arrived at its name, Asset Management? Can this title be said to adequately address the 'what we do and stand for' test?


Letter to a customer

Twenty seven years ago I started out in the asset management industry. I was very excited to be entering the world of financial markets with its focus on macroeconomic-based decision making which I had been trained to do.

But my line manager at that time had other more immediate plans for me. And so for large parts of the first year in my role as fund manager I was given the task of replying on behalf of the organisation to letters from members of the public. This was after all the era before email.


The pace of change

It's amazing how in some cases the unimaginable becomes normal very quickly.

- Soccer matches played behind closed doors.

- Sugar-free Irn-Bru (non-Scots may need to research that one!)

- Trump in the White House.

Yet often-times change comes slowly.

During a recent client webinar I was struck by an observation from a participant – that the asset management industry has not witnessed a meaningful innovation in client relationship management in more than two decades.

Could that really be correct? Having pondered the matter ever since I admit to be unable to come up with an example I could use to refute this assertion. So I ask myself, how can this be?


Opportunities in lockdown

All around us for the past three months we have seen examples of individuals and businesses demonstrating initiative in support of others and of their clients. My personal favourites have been the local jogger dressed as Spiderman entertaining children in lockdown (and their parents!) and our favourite seafood restaurant thankfully deciding to promote a home delivery service.


Message to a customer

Like many of you I suspect, I have become more conscious of risk. At the outset of the COVID crisis, the prospect of having to go almost anywhere made me feel uncomfortable. This was especially true of the poor innocent supermarket. Perhaps I will have similar misgivings about offices, albeit to a lesser extent, when or if they ever again become a significant feature of how we do business.


Be careful not to become over-committed to commitment

We all place considerable emphasis on commitment. We work hard to confirm our people are both committed to our organisational vision, and to ensuring that customer expectations are being met. Our investment teams are measured, at least in part by their commitment to philosophy, process and portfolio construction. Why even most LinkedIn profiles feature commitment as a key personal quality.

But can commitment sometimes create liability?


Meeting matters

Having spent almost three decades in the financial industry, I have met with many customers. I
hugely respect each one, committed as they have been to provide the best possible financial
outcomes and levels of service for their clients.


Looking out for what the future might look like

Organisations have had a lot to cope with in response to COVID-19. For many people this has resulted in a shift to homeworking, which has been a relatively smooth change for some, less so for others.

But with the peak of the outbreak having been declared, attention is now shifting to the “what next” phase. From the conversations we have been conducting with our clients, we note there are broadly three different visions of future work patterns leaders are having to consider.


How can I maintain the trust of my customers in a VC world?

We are all having to confront uncomfortable levels of change. In our work lives we have lost, at least temporarily, physical contact with colleagues, suppliers and customers. Mutual trust levels are being put to the test. This is important because in our experience, when trust breaks down governance and management issues typically emerge.


The importance of thinking the unthinkable

Events surrounding UK politics and COVID-19 have highlighted key person risk. Organisations across
our industry will doubtless have considered this risk when designing their business continuity plans.
Everywhere the robustness of these plans is currently being put to the test and thus far we may feel
they have helped us manage this crisis well. But how prepared are we as leaders if, as seems highly
likely, this crisis gets worse? Have we considered how we might cope with the most likely outcomes
deciding not to think the unthinkable?