60 second guide: the lowdown on investment specialists

Investments teams are made up of more than just fund managers: they can include research analysts, dealers, economists, strategists and investment specialists too.

This is a 60 second guide to the latter, courtesy of Graham McCraw, investment specialist on Elite Rated Standard Life Investments Global Smaller Companies fund.

What is an investment specialist?

Part of the role of an investment specialist is to represent the fund manager when speaking to clients and intermediaries. We explain what is happening in the fund: where the manager is investing and why. We also represent the fund manager internally but making sure our marketing and sales teams have the information they need to keep our investors informed.

Another part of the role is thinking about product development; looking at the trends in the market and identifying any gaps in our investment range and new products we may potentially launch.

What background do you need to be an investment specialist?

I don’t think there is a set path to becoming an investment specialist. Within our team, for example, we have very varied backgrounds. Some started on the distribution side of the business, others on the fund management side.  Personally, I think it’s a really good role. You get the client contact which I like, but you’re also working day to day with the fund manager so you really get to understand how they think and the stock-picking element as well.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

Getting out and speaking to people. In the UK in particular, our smaller companies franchise is has been very successful and is well-known. I also get to travel in Europe, where we’re less well-known. But that’s a great challenge: convincing European investors that they should consider our funds too.

In terms of what I don’t like, it’s the same as any other job I think: the administration sides of things like signing off literature. It’s not my passion, but it’s an important part of the role. We have to make sure the information the clients are receiving is accurate and timely, and really represents what we’re thinking.

Do you have to know a lot of funds inside out?

To differing degrees. We have what we call a ‘soft desk alignment’ within the team, so we’re certainly all capable of talking about the key strategies, but we do have people who are more familiar with certain funds than others.

What type of thing do you discuss with the fund managers?

It depends what’s going on. We talk every day about what’s happening in the market and about new stock ideas. We also discuss any company results have come out; what the results mean or if they change the investment thesis.

It’s more of an informal catch up and led by what’s happening in the market and what clients need to understand. The fund manager’s role is picking the stocks and managing the funds. Our role is speaking to clients and working with our sales teams – so the fund managers have enough time at their desks to do their job properly.


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