11 December 2019

Lucy Coutts

Lucy Coutts discusses life as a wealth manager.

Lives North Yorkshire
Family Partner, and two Generation Z daughters, who make me laugh 
Education Fulneck Girls’ School, Yorkshire. And yes, my maths was good enough 
Started at JM Finn 2011
Charity I’m spontaneous rather than loyal to one charity. I support whatever tugs at my heart strings. Most recently, helping Koalas after the bush fires in Australia 
Favourite Film Casino Royale
Who you’d most like to meet Jane Garvey
Passion Beekeeping  

As winner of the female investment manager of the year at the 2019 City of London Wealth Management Awards can you explain what you think are the most important qualities for a wealth manager?

Firstly, communication skills. Our industry is filled with jargon; people may not understand what we mean and quite often they don’t ask questions because they don’t want to appear stupid. There is nothing complicated or mysterious about what we do so the language we use should reflect that. Secondly, be disciplined in your approach to investment. I have four simple rules when looking to invest in businesses that I hope to be future proof: those with unique qualities and/or strong brands; with growing sales; o er a high return on capital; and are cash generative. There is no point in being a busy fool.

What do you see as the biggest challenges for the industry in recruiting more females into client facing roles?

Bluntly, our industry is dominated by middle-aged, white males. Combine this with the fact that women are more risk aware and some depictions of our industry point to greed, boorish behaviour, high risk and thrills. I’d prefer a picture to be drawn of my own experience at JM Finn; a broad church of individuals offered the same opportunities where integrity and respect for each other and our clients is embedded in our everyday culture. My Generation Z daughters see fewer barriers, so I am hopeful the shift has begun.

What is JM Finn doing to address the imbalance that exists across the industry?

Creating a more diverse work force is something that is now on the management’s agenda, as we look to ensure our client base, where we have more female clients than male, is reflected in our staff . To help us on our journey for this, we have developed a number of initiatives over the last year such as a formal mentoring programme, leadership coaching sessions, pre- and post-maternity leave coaching, a review of our hiring policy in addition to some targets around female representation on the management committee. I hope that in years to come these will all help us in our efforts to having a more diverse and balanced work force.

Given a crystal ball, what do you see as the main themes for 2020 from an investor’s perspective?

I remain positive for equities but policy uncertainty, almost everywhere, is bringing some short term challenges. That said, I buy companies that I envisage holding for a long time. Of course, their price will ebb and flow with market swings, but if the business is set to benefit from structural change or shifts, such as in global payments, then I would buy them no matter what the short term uncertainties are. Alibaba (Alipay), Tencent (WeChat), Apple (Apple Card), Facebook (Facebook Pay on WhatsApp) and Visa are all set to benefit from this trend in my opinion, by charging merchants a small transaction fee for processing payments. That’s a very nice recurring revenue model, though of course none of them are without investment risk and might not be suitable for everyone.

Understanding Finance

Helping clients understand what we do is key to building relationships. To explain some of the industry jargon that creeps into our world, we’ve pulled together a section of our site to help.

Also in this issue