Warren Tonkinson joins Jupiter last June as Managing Director, Distribution, after Merian’s merger with Jupiter. Warren has over 25 years’ experience in the asset management industry and has helped lead MGI through the acquisition process. Now, he take responsibility for Jupiter’s international client servicing function as well as a range of strategic partnerships that will form part of the enlarged group’s distribution network.
How were your beginnings in the fund industry?
I studied economics at university and like many students at the end of their studies, I wasn’t sure of my next step. One day I got talking to one of my parents’ neighbours. He was a financial adviser. When he explained what he did, I thought it sounded interesting and he helped me to get my first job in the financial services industry, working for an insurance firm. My first taste of asset management came with a role at Fidelity as Sales Director. Since then I’ve never looked back. I spent some time as Head of Sales at Funds Network and I have held senior distribution roles at UBS, Skandia, Old Mutual and Merian Global Investors.
Could you tell me the most difficult aspects of your job and also the most positive one?
In the current environment it has undoubtedly been communicating with colleagues and clients without the benefit of physically meeting. I think it is something we greatly appreciate having been deprived of the interaction for so long. More broadly, it is essential we are able to build strong trusting relationships with our clients and ensure that our product range is relevant and performing in line with their expectations. I do enjoy the interaction with clients and the many stimulating conversations we have with them. Also, I work with some great people at Jupiter so its been brilliant to be part of such a strong team,
How has the Covid-19 affected the work of Sales teams and the relationship with the institutional investors?
One of the main challenges of Covid-19 has been the loss of face-to-face contact. In the case of a Sales Manager, in addition to the personal implications, this has meant changing the way we maintain close relationships with our clients: personal meetings, trips and events were replaced by videocalls, and many more telephone calls, which have replaced many emails. But this has not meant a loss of trust or any distancing with them, quite the opposite. The relationship with them has been even closer and continuous, in order to offer them the support and guidance much needed throughout a complicated year.
In fact, since the outbreak of the crisis we have had more interaction with our clients than ever before.
Can you explain the current composition of Jupiter AM global distribution team, after the acquisition of Merian Global Investors?
We are convinced that Jupiter now represents a benchmark for active management in the fund industry. With a strengthened fund range and a highly skilled and well-resourced distribution team, there is a significant opportunity to grow the business internationally, better support our existing investors and expand our client base.
Our priority is not to blindly gather assets from any area but rather to support our existing clients first and foremost, strengthening bonds and being receptive and alive to new ideas. The new Jupiter distribution team is a collaborative group of professionals that believes in our ability to thrive.
My role in the global distribution team is of Managing Director, and I lead a team of approximately 50 people, overseeing Jupiter’s international and institutional office network and staff.
In your opinion, what are the key drivers for successful fund distribution?
At Jupiter, we exist to help our clients achieve their long-term objectives through high conviction, active management supported by excellence in service. This means a step further than putting the client at the heart of their business, like many of our peers will also say. In our dialogue with clients, we always look to demonstrate how we are putting their interests first in seeking to deliver Long-term superior performance after fees. We engage with them, for instance, on the long-term benefits of our distinct investment culture, the positive impact of investment in our systems or processes or the business rationale for an acquisition. Equally, we will communicate on the benefits of having a more inclusive workforce, of developing our employees through a comprehensive learning and development curriculum, of engaging with Investment 20/20 to attract more diverse talent to our industry, and on why it has been so important to offer pastoral care to our staff during the coronavirus pandemic. The benefit to the client is always our ultimate litmus test.
What do you think will be the next disruptive elements in the asset management industry?
Regulation, technology and the rapidly changing macro environment.
What investment sectors and funds have been popular with clients during 2020?
Product demand has always been quite cyclical in my view. There was a time when all clients wanted were balanced, managed, diversified, growth-type of strategies. Global equity strategies then became fashionable and now there seems to be growing appetite for building block strategies. While global strategies remain important, institutional clients in particular, seem more prepared today to look at more esoteric ways of generating alpha on behalf of clients. In this environment, the Jupiter Gold and Silver fund, for instance, is likely to have more appeal, and I anticipate growing interest for our emerging market debt offering.
Finally, what do you think your professional future will be like in the long term?
Given my age not sure there is a long term! Continue to do the job I do and help Jupiter to expand its presence in the markets I cover.