We all know that meeting the minimum 35 hours of continuing professional development (CPD) throughout the year is not difficult to achieve. There are many seminars, webinars and online tools, but it is obviously important to find the ones that really benefit your business and, therefore, ultimately your clients.
Logged CPD hours are viewed as a by-product of our day-to-day job, because we are constantly looking to improve on current methodology and learn new, innovative investment ideas for clients’ portfolios.
A smart approach
However, in order to achieve the best outcomes, it is imperative that we are smart in the way we approach subject areas, and in the way we disseminate the information learned throughout the whole firm so everyone can benefit. No one person can say that they are specialists in all areas of investment so, in order to combat that, our resource enables us to break down the firm into investment committees, which specialise in certain areas and can therefore focus their CPD learning time. The main beneficiaries of this will be the clients when all the new and improved learning is applied through the investment process into the portfolios.
Learning from external specialists
We regularly have external fund specialists come into the office to present to our different asset class committees. For example in the last week we have had Ashmore Group in to discuss emerging markets, HICL talked about infrastructure and Impact Healthcare explained its newly created real estate investment trust. All this structured learning and research will be fed through the committees and filtered down to every portfolio manager at Cazenove Capital.
Asset class specialists
Bringing specialists in is one thing but making sure that our portfolio managers become specialists in their own right is also important. Even before our managers have passed their investment exams, they are entered into the CPD programme with the intention that everyone finds a home within at least one asset class committee. Not only does this form an essential learning environment for the less experienced, but also sometimes these younger portfolio managers can teach the old dogs a few new tricks when investments are looked at from a fresh angle. Creating a collaborative, idea-generating and company-wide approach to portfolio construction is one of the best side effects.
Innovation is key
The key is to make sure we are being innovative in our learning – in other words, always looking for new opportunities for the portfolios and not just sticking to what we know. Removing tunnel vision is vital in an often-turbulent financial environment. That is why Cazenove Capital has more recently focused attention on key diversifying asset classes such as infrastructure, absolute return, renewable energy and specialist property vehicles such as student housing and GP surgeries, which are used, where appropriate, as part of a genuine multi-asset investment style.
Industry specialists coming in to present to our portfolio managers through structured CPD events enable us to ‘pull up the drains’ on each potential opportunity. Only once we are completely comfortable in our knowledge and due diligence will such opportunities be considered for client portfolios.
The importance of CPD in the investment world
Prime objectives for the CPD initiative include ensuring that the financial services industry maintains an appropriate level of knowledge and professionalism, whether giving investment or wealth-planning advice, in a fast-changing industry. The impact for firms like Cazenove Capital is to encourage us to develop our investment capabilities and knowledge in order to maintain competitive advantage.
The whole concept of CPD in the investment world prevents us from standing still as portfolio managers, and forces us to step out of old comfort zones when it comes to portfolio construction. Reading the Financial Times and constantly researching the same old investments is like brushing your teeth: everyone’s done it before they even get to work in the morning. Cazenove Capital has an attitude that encourages thinking outside the investment box. Such an attitude to CPD can only be of benefit to clients.