Inside View: Investment Committees

Helen Verney, finance director at Jewish Care, takes a light-hearted look at the six types of people who are likely to turn up to your next investment committee. The only question is: which one are you?

Dabbling Amateurs with their mind-boggling theories on how local unemployment in Diddlington-on-Squat will surely raise the price of 60-tog duvet shares, or how their Friday night M&S ready meal wasn't quite up to standard and therefore "shouldn't the manager sell, sell, sell?" If the Dabbling Amateur also happens to be a trustee of the charity, you could be in real trouble.

Pontificating Experts with razor-sharp insights into niche markets that leave the rest of the group feeling inadequate. You'll find them writing their 'to do' lists down the side of the agenda or, even worse, being encouraged and frustrated by a keen Dabbling Amateur who wants to back them up on their theory that coffee prices are about to rise by sharing their own recent Asda trolley experience.

Baffling Managers with their bizarre global market updates. For many charities, the ratio of experts to amateur managers is low, leaving the majority of the committee to wonder whether the update on the US Congress, property prices in Spain and petrol prices in Malibu can really have any relevance for their portfolios, or whether in fact the experts are simply having a joke at their expense each quarter.

Secret Squirrel Benchmarkers who independently verify the performance results that your manager presents. They arrive for the committee before the manager, they wear mackintoshes and dark glasses, and they often have strange accents, having travelled from distant places to be there. Nonetheless, these Secret Squirrels can be valued and trusted advisers to those committees that happen to be short of expert volunteers.

Puzzled Administrators who cannot be expected to know who is a Dabbling Amateur and who is the Pontificating Expert. They struggle to write committee minutes, which typically include phrases such as: "House strategy is to reduce exposure to segregated overseas equities while hedging currency risk by increasing small cap UK FTSE stock that will require the mid-point of the tailored benchmark to be amended in order to achieve maximum total return." The Puzzled Administrator feels like he's trying to type Martian.

Conflicted Finance Directors who try to act in the charity's best interests by appeasing the Dabbling Amateurs, rewriting the minutes of the Puzzled Administrators, containing the air time of the Pontificating Experts and, finally, limiting the ramblings of the Baffling Managers, while at the same time ensuring that the needs of the charity and its strategy are met.

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