Aidan Lisser is currently Head of Strategy at Investec Wealth & Investment, where he was Chief Marketing Officer until June 2017. He was also Chief Marketing Officer at Allianz Global Investors, Head of Group Brand at Standard Chartered Bank PLC, and spent the first twenty years of his career with Unilever plc in a number of roles, including stints in China and Thailand. He is a Non-Executive Director of Henderson International Income trust. Through Nurole he was recently appointed to the board of JPMorgan Emerging Markets Investment Trust PLC.
How should investment company boards think about strategy?
Boards should have a view on what the future looks like and how their company should be best positioned for it. To that end, I think boards need to consider some of the key pillars which will have the greatest impact on the future of their environment. These may include demographic trends, technology disruption and political and economic volatility. For example, both developed and emerging markets are seeing aging populations which are impacting savings needs, pensions and old age care requirements - it’s important to consider the responsibility as well as the opportunity. Ultimately, the board is there to ensure that the management team examine their strategy from new perspectives, helping to identify opportunities or avoid threats that might otherwise have been missed. It’s the reason why having diversity on the board is so critical. As an executive, my own experience of that constructive challenge by NEDs, has always been very positive.
What are the key questions for investment company boards to ask?
There are three core questions I think an investment company board should revisit regularly. First, what is the best path to growth? Relevant considerations could include how to broaden shareholder registers, how to establish a stronger retail presence and how to clearly communicate an investment structure that can have many benefits but is not always easy to convey. Second, do we understand our cost base and are we getting value for money? This is easier to achieve now with the increased disclosure of costs post MIFID II but remains an issue for the whole asset management industry. Finally, are we clear about what good performance looks like, especially in the context of a very volatile market?
What has surprised you in the boardroom?
I was not surprised but have nonetheless been impressed by the rigour with which the board does its job. It’s easy to assume the board is all about strategy but there is also a lot of time consumed by governance.
What has been the key difference for you between Finance and Consumer as a sector?
Consumer products are more focused on innovation whereas financial services are primarily about the quality of customer experience. The role and purpose of brands is also different.
When have you got it most wrong professionally and what did you learn?
When you get it wrong say so and act on it quickly.
What’s the best professional advice you ever received?
Go and work for a smaller business.
How did you hear about Nurole?
Some time ago - I joined of my own volition!
How have you found the experience as a member?
I’ve been impressed by the platform from day one as a member - you make it easy. I particularly like being limited on the word count and having to be disciplined about it.
Let's finish wtih a few quick questions about you....
3 words the person who has worked most with you would use to characterise you?
Analytical, team-player, curious.
The Road to Somewhere, David Goodhart (explains rise in populism).
Peau de Vache, Val d’Isere
“Ask not what your country can do for you - ask what you can do for your country”, President Kennedy at his inauguration.
Best ever holiday?
Chilean Patagonia (my honeymoon so can’t go wrong there!).
South Eastern Trains (so I know when my train is delayed).
Professional achievement of which you are most proud?
Making the switch from consumer to financial services.
When does your alarm go off and how many hours of sleep do you have on average?
6:20 and my fitbit tells me 7 hours on average this year.
Best idea for a $10,000 investment?
I can’t give you advice but I know someone who can!
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