If you ran into Paula Moore on the street, there is a relatively small chance that your first thought is here is the chief operating officer of one of the country’s most established investment managers. She wears her corporate responsibility very lightly (and thoughtfully) for the fact she has day-to-day operational oversight of the £59 billion UK-listed investment manager. Jupiter employs over 560 staff, the vast majority of whom are still working from home when we meet at the company’s offices at London’s Victoria on a hot summer’s day in June.
But this story begins late in 2020 when FBC had occasion to speak with Paula Moore in her capacity as a Jupiter board director. In a wide-ranging conversation on investment governance, she said: “If I had to choose among my various board roles at Jupiter, the one I would most like to keep is that of the ACD.”
A few months later in April this year, Nick Miller, the head of asset management at the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in an interview with FBC spoke with great conviction of the “primacy” of the ACD board. The FCA places a high level of importance on this board’s role within the firm, and the need to ensure that it has the most capable and senior officers on its board.
COO, Jupiter Fund Management
Executive director on multiple Jupiter boards including the UK ACD fund board, Jupiter Unit Trust Managers Ltd
The April FCA interview is one of the most widely viewed sessions from the iNED BootCamp, and the importance of the ACD is a point that has come up in multiple conversations since.
FBC therefore decided to revisit its conversation with Paula Moore on the importance of the ACD and a range of other topics, and what follows are excerpts of an hour-long interview conducted in-person (socially-distanced, of course!).
On the importance of the ACD fund board:
“When I joined Jupiter in 1997, I had a client servicing/facing role, I was often in direct contact with the end investor, and I was very aware of how important our treatment of that end investor was in terms of them feeling that they valued the service they received.
“I very clearly understood at the outset that, whereas investment performance is probably what attracts the client, what keeps the client over the long term is a combination of strong investment performance and strong investment servicing… [They] need to feel that you value them as a client.
“I think because I have a background in client servicing, even though I’ve now got a much broader remit as COO I very much recognise the importance of the strength of the AFM [authorised fund manager] board in terms of protecting clients.”
On a far more intermediated distribution marketplace, compared to the late 1990s, and the implications for distribution, due diligence, and Management Information
“There is no doubt it is a far more difficult situation to navigate. We [at Jupiter] have been able to achieve a lot [in terms of end-client engagement] because we still have such a large direct book of business, which means we still have sight of the underlying client issues directly. If you’re having to rely solely on your distributor or intermediary for that input, you will not get as rich a level of feedback.
“It is very challenging.
“In my experience, the only way you really get to see that richness of feedback is when you have a very good understanding of the types of enquiries you get, including information on things like complaints, etc. And with access to this almost forensic [in nature] information, you are then able to tease out what the key themes and issues are. You are not necessarily going to get that with quantitative data alone.
“If the FCA has this level of expectation, I think it needs to work with both the distributors and asset managers to come up with a solution. It’s still an area in which we’ve got quite a bit of work to do.”
On managing a high-powered executive career alongside the growing governance responsibilities that come with fund board roles
“In many ways, I see it as a kind of conflict that one needs to manage. The Senior Managers & Certification Regime (SM&CR) has now brought about obligations that I must absolutely fulfil ‘in my day job’. Then there is my role on the AFM board – requiring me to make a commitment to both, which I take very seriously, while keeping at the forefront of my mind that I’ve only got a finite amount of time.
“To manage this well, you must consider the support you have in place. My advice to anyone who is thinking of combining a senior job with a board role is to think long and hard about ensuring one has the right structures around you. In my case, I have a very strong team.
“I also work on ensuring communication is prioritised, and this is why it’s been so much harder during the pandemic when we haven’t been able to work closely together physically which gives the best opportunity to collaborate and problem solve effectively. In order to keep your teams and those that report into them on the right track communication is paramount.
“But the general thread of all of this is that you need a strong team. And if you feel that your team is not where it needs to be, then my suggestion would be that you work on that first.”
The importance of diversity and inclusion in asset management
“In many ways, [diversity and inclusion] has really taken on far greater prominence – and this is as it should be. We’ve had the focus on getting women onto boards and into senior positions within organisations.
“When I look at the whole issue of diversity and inclusion, I think the benefits are very well understood and clear.
“It’s more about the diversity of thinking, the cognitive diversity, and less about whether the person is a woman or from an ethnic minority.
“Over the years, the one thing that has always made my job interesting, but also challenging, is having people with very different views and circumstances. It’s always led to much more richness in terms of thinking and approach.
“Being exposed to people from very different environments and backgrounds [is valuable]. It’s more the diversity of viewpoint rather than the label you are given. Encouraging that diversity of thinking is the next frontier. This is something that we do: we really have recognised that and we are putting that at the forefront of our work.”
On Jupiter’s – and the industry’s – approach to environmental, social, and governance (ESG) themed investing
“On this point, one of the most debated aspects of ESG within Jupiter is ‘how can we be authentic?’.
“Authenticity requires holding your investee companies to account and we have a strong governance framework to do that but also it means holding yourself to account. We are very much aware that we need to apply the same degree of rigour and scrutiny to what we do internally as we expect to see externally.
“We’ve focused a lot on how we demonstrate that we’ve really embedded ESG into our investment processes, but also more broadly.
“Ensuring that you have that authenticity within the organisation is important. This stuff doesn’t take care of itself, it needs work and support from across the business.
“Thinking of [initiatives such as] the Jupiter Pride Network and the work we have done to establish this group, we are trying to build allies within the organisation. That takes real effort, because inevitably in an organisation like Jupiter, people are doing this in addition to their day job. It means I’ve added a third string to [my role] – being mindful of how we work with our stakeholders.”
We are almost at the top of the hour in our discussion, and Jupiter’s COO clearly has a lot on her plate. Of the things we have learnt about Paula Moore is that her holistic approach to asset management governance is reflective of the needs of the industry and of the amount of work required across the board to raise and maintain governance standards.