Quick questions: Bestinvest’s Jason Hollands
In the hotseat this week is Jason Hollands of Bestinvest, who reveals to us he drives a TVR and got his start after meeting his firm’s founder
Many people may know Jason Hollands, who took on the role of managing director of business development and communication at Bestinvest this summer, as the man behind F&C’s press office. But before his career at the fund manager began, he cuts his teeth at Bestinvest for nine years in the 1990s.
What was your first job in financial services?
I joined Bestinvest – then known as Best Investment – in 1993 after three years working for a US management consulting firm. Back then the firm primarily researched and advised on Business Expansion Schemes then re-focused on the Personal Equity Plan shortly followed by Spot the Dog, the firm’s guide to underperforming funds.
Back then Best was a small outfit, there were six of us operating out of a garret above Star Burger, Ludgate Circus. My role was an eclectic mix of adviser, researcher, marketing and PR guru. I also answered the phones and stuffed a hell of a lot of prospectuses into envelopes. It was great fun helping build a business during its early days.
It is amazing to have seen the business grow into a nationwide investment adviser and wealth manager, with 200 staff, a dozen offices and looking after more than £4 billion of assets for over 50,000 clients.
What drew you to the profession?
Fate. I had spent three years after graduating from university working for a US management consultancy, mostly on strategic planning projects for large pharmaceutical companies. It was the type of business analyst role you did for a couple of years and were then expected to either clear off to business school and do an MBA, work for a client or head off into the City. The first two didn’t appeal to me, so I tried to find a role in corporate finance, interviewing with a number of investment banks.
During my search for a role as a corporate raider I was introduced to John Spiers, founder of Bestinvest, and was convinced by the recruitment consultant involved that reviewing new issues of BES companies would be a vaguely relevant stopping off point until the corporate finance market picked up. Nine years later, I was still there before moving into the fund management industry for the following decade. I returned to Bestinvest this summer.
What is the most important thing an adviser can do for a client?
Always put the client’s interests first. It really is as simple as that. The public generally distrust financial services companies, so firms that are recognised as trustworthy, deliver good service for a fair price have a winning formula.
What is the most important decision you have ever made?
I’m going to say two: becoming a Christian and marrying my wife Deborah.
How do you think the industry has changed since you started working in it?
Professional standards have improved enormously and the quality of some of the younger people coming into the industry is exceptionally good. Generally the industry is less focused on sales and much more on service, which is a good thing. As a result, there is more attention paid to risk and less to the relentless marketing of new fund launches.