Will Thompson

October 2020

1. Brief job description:

I had the benefit of completing a number of rotations throughout the year, so my job was really varied, enabling me to see GAM’s distribution function through the distinct lenses of different teams. On the consultant relations side, it was my responsibility to ensure the accuracy and completeness of GAM's presence across all consultant databases, alongside generally supporting the institutional sales effort wherever best I could. On the presentations / request for proposals (RFP) side, I’d be designing and updating various sales presentations and due diligence questionnaires (DDQs), building up familiarity with GAM’s diverse product range. On the product side, I benefited from exposure to both the governance and strategy side, assisting senior product development managers in liquidations, mergers, and product launches, liaising with both internal stakeholders and external counsel, and engaging in wider research projects.

2. What were your main responsibilities?

The chance to take on significant responsibility in a junior role isn’t something you find everywhere, and it’s been a major part of what has made the past year at GAM so rewarding and insightful. Throughout my time in the consultant relations team, I quickly became responsible for managing the entirety of our consultant database update process; a role which enabled me to work closely with a diversity of global business development and client teams. I even had the privilege of leading the training of a new employee, something which I had never thought to experience so early in my career. In the product team, the responsibilities very much vary according to the nature of the project we’re working on; this might be the updating of official fund documentation, coordinating the launch of new funds, or conducting market research to assist us in positioning, or adding to, our current fund range. 

3. Did you have any projects to work on?

Almost the entirety of work within product development is project work; whether a fund launch, merger, or adjustment, the best part of any project is the chance to work with, and learn from, the diversity of hugely talented and knowledgeable individuals and teams at GAM. Highlights of the year include working alongside the Governance and Responsible Investment (GRI) team, Sales, and Marketing to coordinate our Client Sustainability Survey, assessing client opinions on responsible investment, and working with a multiplicity of teams, across office locations, on a recent fund launch.   

4. Day in the life – what does your day look like?

I’ve always been an early bird, so my day will kick off relatively early in the morning with the daily inbox sort (clean inbox, happy mind). I’ll respond to any enquiries that have come into our consultant databases or fund development inbox whilst I’ve been offline, before getting stuck into my daily tasks. Depending on the project I’m working on, the daily tasks really vary; the majority of product development work involves coordinating with a number of different stakeholders, meaning effective communication is key; this will often mean a number of calls throughout the day. On the consultant relations side, work is slightly more structured, with the updating of databases having to occur on a monthly and quarterly basis. If in the office, lunchtimes will consist of spirited intellectual debate, largely centering around the past weekend’s football scores.

On a monthly basis, I would represent GAM at the I2020 monthly forum, chairing more meetings than any other trainee in London and the South East, and organising the 2019 Christmas Social, coordinating a team of trainees from a range of companies.  

5. What skills have you learnt, or improved on (department specific, personal, technical etc)?

The past year has been a complete immersion within the asset management industry; from day one, I was exposed to concepts and terminology of which, coming from a non-finance background, I had no prior understanding. The weekly distribution calls (recently webcasts), in which the presenting fund manager would discuss their fund, relevant industry trends, and their future forecasts, were invaluable. The opportunity to learn, first-hand, from the brightest minds in investment management and distribution, is a huge privilege, and has been instrumental in the development of my own knowledge. Whilst my theoretical understanding is far from complete (I still confuse my futures and forwards, my rebates and retrocessions), it’s undoubtedly taken a big step up in the past year. 

Likewise, coming straight from university and with little office experience, this year has acted as the perfect springboard into the corporate world. Office etiquette, email composition, and telephone manner, whilst again things I am yet to master, are definitely skills which have undeniably improved over the course of the past 12 months.

It is worth mentioning that, were it not for the commitment, patience, and knowledge of my managers and colleagues, the extent of my personal development would have been greatly reduced. All of the senior staff I regularly interact with have taken the time to meet with me individually, giving me the chance to ask questions and benefit from their experience. My manager in the product team regularly sets me personal research projects, ensures I have established objectives, and has set aside a dedicated hour of the week solely for the purpose of asking questions. 

6. Did you take any qualifications?

GAM’s commitment to learning and development easily outstrips that of competitor firms. This year I’ve been working towards the Investment Management Certificate, I’ve had a bit of a break since lockdown, but plan to get back to revision soon. In the coming years my aim is to work toward further qualifications, such as CFA and CAIA. 

7. Do you have any further learnings or reflections, including adapting to the “remote working” environment?  

Adapting to remote working, whilst again a new experience, wasn’t as challenging as one might have envisioned. GAM Service Desk have, upon every engagement I’ve had with them, been unfailing supportive, knowledgeable and patient, they have made the process near painless. The challenge of remote working has been learning how to effectively “switch off” when it’s no longer a case of simply leaving the office. My manager has been unfailingly supportive in this challenge; consistently encouraging me to log off and enjoy the evenings. 

8. What are you moving onto next?  Has this year inspired your future outlook or decisions?

I’m pleased to say I will be staying on at GAM as a Product Development Executive, reporting to Kishen Pattani. This year has undoubtedly inspired me toward pursuing a career in asset management; the dynamic and fast-paced nature of the industry, its bifurcation with global politics, and its awesome power to enact positive change, are but three of the reasons.  

9. Can you summarise your experience?

Whilst the year has flown by, September 2019 feels a long time ago. The past 12 months have witnessed significant change, both on an industry level and internally. For someone just starting their career, this really has meant a “shock of capture” entry into the asset management industry; the perfect environment for fast-paced learning and development. In spite of this uncertainty, the atmosphere at GAM has never felt intimidating; it’s always high-energy, with loads of laughter and support. All in all, as a result of spending a year surrounded by incredibly knowledgeable, dedicated, generous (I didn’t pay for a single drink in the pub tour ahead of the Christmas Party), and diverse individuals, I’ve grown significantly in knowledge and maturity. Thanks all and looking forward to the year ahead.

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