Firing Line: Nick French, Russell Investments

Firing Line: Nick French, Russell Investments

Here Nick French tells Melanie Tringham how he looks after members of the company’s network.

The head of wealth management at Russell Investments, likes to read up on human behaviour in his spare time.

He said: “I’ve read hundreds of books on human behaviour, how we communicate, the language that we use, body language – I’m a history man, trying to understand what we do. There’s so much to learn and it never ends.”

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Aside from its intrinsic interest, Mr French says it helps him in his day job, running the adviser division of Russell Investments.

The parent company is based in the US and is known as a substantial institutional investor, but it has been in the UK since 1979.

It is known mainly as a provider of multi-asset funds; indeed, in the retail market, this is the only thing it does, but it also owns a network, now called In Partnership, which it bought in 2013.

He said: “We can help advisers and help clients understand the advice that they bring – it’s been a huge passion if mine. Most advisers I’ve met care about their clients and do a great job and the clients get real results.”

However, he adds that advisers do a bad job telling their clients this. He said: “Advisers have had a rough deal – both from the mainstream press and the advent of technology.”

As part of the company’s mission to help advisers, it has a series of programmes to assist them in developing their business. It runs, for example, a series of seminars, where there might be 25 to 40 people in the room.

He said: “They are one or two-day events, focused on trying to provide advisers with a boost. They go through every stage of the business, understanding it, their client vision, business purpose and segmentation. You have to leave with particular solutions.

The company also has the “Russell Academy”, where advisers can go through various modules, focusing on different parts of their business they want to change or develop. Mr French said: “The sessions are face-to-face and it’s very much outcome-driven: they have to do the work.

“We try and remind them why they came into the industry and why they do it, we try and get them to articulate that, we want them to write down what their purpose is.

“I can’t think of any other industry where people keep clients for 30 years. When we talk to them, we find that most advisers are trying to provide financial peace of mind. They do a great job for their client and you have to make sure you talk about it.”

A good example of well-run financial adviser businesses are those belonging to In Partnership, formerly called the Online partnership.