Andrew Summers, Head of Fund Research, Investec Wealth and Investment, shares his experiences of the Invest for Success programme.
Please tell us about yourself?
My name is Andrew Summers and I work for Investec Wealth & Investment. I have been at the firm for 12 years. I am responsible for a team of individuals who assess certain investments and then recommend them to clients.
How did you end up in your job?
Like many people, I probably drifted into Finance. I was attracted to the opportunity to work with lots of bright people in an exciting and fast-moving environment, where the work really challenges you. And, despite its bad press, most parts of the financial services industry perform a very positive role for society. In the case of my company, most of our clients are normal people, who just want a secure retirement, or want to preserve their modest wealth to pass on to their children and grandchildren. If we can help them do that, that’s great.
Did you ever have career support?
I think career help has improved enormously since I was at school. I remember going to a careers advisor and she tapped my answers to some basic questions into a computer and declared — I should be a florist!
The best advice I can give is to (a) do really well in your studies — a good academic record will open lots of doors that would otherwise be closed; and (b) speak to as many people as possible about potential careers. Keep your options open.
However, at the end of the day, only you can decide what career you will follow and you should never expect anyone to tell you what career you should have. Gather as much information as you can and be imaginative! Don’t assume certain roles or paths are closed; you never know.
Tell us about Invest for Success?
Invest for Success (IfS) seeks to introduce students from low-income communities (London and Liverpool) to the world of investing. It puts 6th form students into small teams with Investec employees, who work in the world of investing. Each team is given a list of companies that they can invest in.
The team that makes the most money — who invest in the companies whose share prices go up the most by the end of the programme — wins!
However, it’s about much more than winning. For instance, there’s a prize for the best team presentation. But, the main reason for the programme is to help switched-on students from urban non-selective state schools decide if investing/finance interests them as a potential career.
Why are programmes like I.f.S important?
When I first heard about Invest for Success, I thought: “that sounds like something I should sign up for!” I say that only partially with my tongue in my cheek because I have to confess that my participation is quite self-serving.
Here’s why — Discussing investing with students who have no reason to have much knowledge about the subject makes me a better investor.
Being forced to explain things logically and clearly and answering great “cut to the chase” simple questions, such as (“yes, but why?”) forces me to really think about what I’m thinking and saying.
Why do I think that? Can I really explain it well? Could I explain it better? Is what I think logical and sound? Have I thought about it enough? Has my view really been tested?
I also thoroughly enjoy listening to the students discussing which companies they like and why. Their insights can be clinically direct and based on real-world common sense that sometimes alludes professional investors, who think they need to justify their salaries by making things more complicated than they need to be.
Most of all, I enjoy anything that promotes an understanding of investing. Being part of an industry that often gets an unfair press, I welcome the opportunity to explain how investing can be a force for good in the world. How better knowledge of investments in the general public at large would lead to more wealth, more evenly distributed.
The ‘democratisation’ of investments is a passion of mine, as well as being crucial to the future financial security of our society.
What a pleasure and joy it is to be able to chat on a subject I care about with motivated and interested young adults, who, were it not for Invest for Success, might not have the chance.
I don’t care if they don’t pursue a career in finance — so long as they know to always put as much away as they can in an ISA and know how to invest in a sensible way!
What have you and your organisation gained from the programme?
All industries and companies serve their clients the best if they reflect the diversity of their clients.
When an industry employs only certain types of people — in particular, from a particular background or with a particular mindset — they run the risk of having a lack of imagination, engaging in “group think” or simply not understanding their clients, who are after all, unlikely to have the same needs and outlooks as you. The more we can hire people from different backgrounds with different life experiences, having dealt with different challenges, the stronger our sector will be and the better we can serve our clients.
What are the key reasons for the successful partnership with Arrival Education?
Personally, I believe it is the level of commitment from both parties. Both AE and Investec understand the value that the partnership brings to both themselves and the other party. It is self-enforcing and having constructed something that is literally a “win-win” for both parties is something of great value to be cherished. So long as both AE and Investec continue to appreciate that, I think the relationship and IFS will thrive.