‘This isn’t a traditional chief exec role’

When Old Mutual Wealth announced last month that Richard Buxton was to take over as chief executive of Old Mutual Global Investors (OMGI), initial comment – on social media and elsewhere – was quick to question whether the performance of his £2.3bn Old Mutual UK Alpha fund would suffer.

Comparisons with Edward Bonham Carter, who held a similar dual role at Jupiter Asset Management a few years ago but gave up fund management responsibilities when his own performance tailed off, have been rife.

But the down-to-earth Mr Buxton is eager to stress that the additional position he has taken on at OMGI “isn’t a traditional chief executive role”. And he is even more adamant that he is “not like Edward Bonham Carter”, though he is an admirer of the Jupiter vice chairman.

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He explains: “I’m never going to have [Mr Bonham Carter’s] role or responsibility. So I think I can do both [jobs] and since investment is my first absolute joy and passion, then I’d like to think I will carry on investing. If I am proven wrong and I find I can’t do both roles then it will be the chief executive role that goes and I will revert back to just being on the investment side. That wouldn’t be an issue for me – it’s not an ego thing.”

As part of the raft of changes announced by Old Mutual Wealth, the company has created an investment division headed up by Martin Baines, formerly chief executive of its discretionary arm Quilter Cheviot. David Loudon has stepped up to replace him at Quilter, while Warren Tonkinson has been promoted from head of distribution to managing director of OMGI.

Mr Buxton completes the overhaul at OMGI and he emphasises that he is not a direct replacement for his predecessor, Julian Ide.

He explains: “This is part of bringing together OMGI and Quilter Cheviot in a new investment division of Old Mutual Wealth. Both are going to continue to be separate businesses, branded separately, but in one investment division of Old Mutual Wealth. I’m stepping up to run, in inverted commas, OMGI.”

But whereas Mr Ide was on the Old Mutual Wealth executive committee while he held the job, Mr Buxton will not be. Instead, the former Schroders manager now reports to Mr Baines, who will represent both Quilter Cheviot and OMGI on the committee.

“Why take the role and the additional responsibilities? It isn’t as scary as the words ‘chief executive officer’ imply,” he remarks.

“The reason that Paul Feeney, who is chief executive of Old Mutual Wealth, wanted me to do this job in this new structure is precisely to have an investor front and centre stage of the investment management engine – I hate the word – at the heart of the business,” he continues.

“It is to be clearly demonstrating both internally to other investment desk heads and externally to our client base, and so on, that it’s all about investment leadership and that we are a genuine investment-driven company. We’re not a kind of distribution machine, we’re an investment house.”