There is a painting that hangs in the Tcam boardroom, gifted to the firm by the directors of Turcan Connell to commemorate the passing of the baton. It depicts three old and three young men; the old men are in the background and all six are staring at the sky, or arguably the future. And, having spoken to Haig Bathgate, co-chief executive officer and chief investment officer at the new-look firm, it seems the future is where Tcam’s focus lies.
The result of a management buyout of Turcan Connell’s asset management arm in November 2015, backed by high-profile investors including Crispin Odey, the new firm’s initial focus has been on making sure its clients are happy and that the team and its systems are bedded in successfully.
Once that is done the firm has big plans. Tcam has more than £1bn in assets under management with a pipeline of new business of about £100m. But, says Bathgate, the aim is to “massively grow the business”.
He says: “We are aiming to be between three and five times bigger within five years. There was a big bang detachment from our old parent as it had provided a lot of shared services.”
Tcam has decided to outsource all services other than those it specialises in.
Services such as human resources and IT were outsourced from launch, and the only services provided in-house will be investment management, asset allocation, financial planning and the advice. “We are trying to differentiate ourselves from our peers through high-end service.”
Central to this is the belief that technology can not only drive efficiency but improve the level of service Tcam offers clients. Bathgate says the firm is now putting a lot of money into developing systems to do just that.
The first step was the creation of an online portal that allows clients to interact with the firm, making the data-gathering elements of the advice process as hassle-free as possible.
Bathgate says: “The bits that clients see as commoditised – inputting static information, for example – become their responsibility if they want to do it themselves. If they don’t want to, we will still happily do it for them, but we will do it online instead of filling out paper forms.
“In the past, if you came to see us you would sit through a two-hour meeting. The first hour would be you giving me information about yourself, the second hour would be me trying to make some kind of assessment of your personal circumstances.
“But I would still have to go back and get all of that information and make some assessment of it before I could produce a comprehensive report.”
Under the new regime, however, the client can complete the questionnaire online and the system can run some “fairly rudimentary workflows” behind the scenes to ask questions such as, ‘how much of the client’s income is covering their capital?’ or ‘do they have an emergency fund?’.
All of which means, says Bathgate: “Clients can come in for a one-hour meeting and attribute a lot more value to that meeting because none of it is just spent putting stuff down on paper.”
It also has the knock-on benefit of focusing an adviser’s time, which makes the business more scalable and enables each adviser to see more clients.
And, according to Bathgate, the firm is continually looking to improve the workflow going on behind the scenes.
“The idea is that the next generation of clients, the 25-to-35 year olds, will want to do more of the investment process themselves, which our system will enable, but it will still allow them to opt in to our recommendations at the end of the process.
“That is where we are headed. We are going to start doing things to automate certain parts of the investment process so we can continue to focus in on the value-added areas, such as servicing clients.”
The firm has also streamlined the client-facing side of its business to ensure that the most senior advisers look after the firm’s senior clients.
“The risk you run when you have a mix of clients per client manager is that it is the client that calls up the most that gets the most attention. So we are becoming much better at differentiating those service levels. “
But, it is not just on the service side of the business that Tcam is hoping to make improvements. Another area is deal implementation, which currently takes three days.
To reduce this, the firm is automating the process as much as possible. Bathgate hopes to get to the point where, when Tcam switches from one fund to another, “the system will work through the changes for each underlying client, tax wrapper and jurisdiction, and produce a list of all the deals that need to be undertaken for each client”.
The client manager can still elect to pull the client out of a trade, he says, but the manager will be opting the client out, rather than laboriously opting them in. All of this should cut implementation times to a few hours.
And, he adds, it will make a big difference when it comes to treating customers fairly and from a documentation point of view.