Fund managers diary

David Coombs is head of multi asset investments at Rathbone Unit Trust Management. His diary runs from July 5-11.



Monday We are holding summer roadshows, aimed at IFAs. In light of RDR [the retail distribution review], we are discussing the challenges posed by a whole-of-market solution. The first presentation is a breakfast meeting, near Southampton, and I am accompanied by Liz Savage, an alternatives analyst and Mona Shah, a funds analyst.

There is not a great turn-out, but people like lie-ins. Neither can we get the laptop to work. Following frantic calls to IT, we manage to start up a few minutes late. Mona is mistaken for the tea lady by one delegate, who revises his opinion when she gives him a 20-minute appraisal of the European fund sector.

Tuesday Leeds. My coffee jumps out of the cup – yes, it has a mind of its own – and down my white shirt. There is little sympathy from my colleagues. The glamour of being on the road is no rock-star experience – I spend 20 minutes in a train lavatory scrubbing out coffee stains. We do the presentation at a nice country hotel, with good attendance.

The neighbouring room is hosting a sales conference. There are many high-pitched “yeahs/you’re the mans/way to gos”. The hotel also cleans its lights as our guests arrive, meaning the tables enjoy the added corporate gift of dead flies. Despite this, and four plates of hot pastries on one of the hottest days of the year, the session goes well.

A drink or three later, we catch the Pennine (non) express train to Manchester. It stalls in the station before we leave. It is packed and our seats are taken. We de-camp to first class and dare the guard to move us. As ever, we are in need of a drink and, on arrival, quickly find a bar.

Old Trafford. Professional facilities and a great turn-out. Half-way through Liz’s presentation, the air conditioning duct in the ceiling above the screen begins leaking water, which flows onto the electric cable linked to the projector. Liz ignores the danger and jokes about risky environments. (article continues below)

Wednesday Farnborough. Brand new hotel with state-of-the-art facilities and plasma screen. But nothing works. Our presentation appears in queasy shades of blue and green. After 30 minutes of fiddling by an IT “expert” and two laptops later, I suggest that he replace the lead to the projector. He reluctantly changes the lead, and when it works I show great humility … sort of.

Tunbridge Wells. We bribe a cabbie to drive us from the station – the venue is not far enough and the town is grid-locked by a school parade. However, money talks, and five minutes and two miles later, we arrive in good spirits. It is a success, and we are on a roll. This presenting lark is easy.

Thursday St Albans. A minute into my presentation and I am heckled. All good questions, but it reminds me never to get too complacent.

”As we arrive a random man asks Liz out on a date”

Birmingham. The only presentation at one of Rathbones’ own offices. As we arrive, a random man asks Liz out on a date. We had heard they are friendlier north of Watford, and our stereotypes are duly confirmed. I am mildly disgusted at the attention my colleagues receive.

Friday Oxford. Final seminar. This hotel is preparing for a wedding. The table is covered in flowers, and there are yellow drapes everywhere. We are on the top table, and I feel I should give a father-of-the-bride speech. A great turn-out and excellent food, and the hecklers have stayed at home. A positive experience to end on.

Saturday and Sunday Sleep.