New Investment Association boss Cummings faces ‘very difficult job’ ahead

Chris Cummings

Chris Cummings, newly-appointed as chief executive of the Investment Association, faces a “very difficult job” ahead of him, industry commentators say.

TheCityUK founding chief executive has been appointed as the new chief executive of the investment trade body and will start his role in the third quarter of this year.

Cummings joins the trade body six months after Daniel Godfrey was ousted from the role. He was also previously director general at AIFA, having spent 7 years at the organisation.

“Chris has a big job ahead of him,” says Mick McAteer, director of Financial Inclusion Centre and former FCA board member.

“It is going to be a difficult job. The industry is notorious for its high charges and poor performance so he has the difficult job to restore the reputation of the investment industry. An European Union survey says the investment industry is at the rock bottom for the worst performance, after the real estate sector.”

Naming Cummings was a “wise decision” says independent regulatory consultant Richard Hobbs, although the Investment Association is facing “a very challenging era for fund managers”.

McAteer says only time will tell what the direction of travel of the Investment Association will be under Cummings leadership, but believes “getting rid of Godfrey was a very bad move”.

He says: “Chris has got a big job ahead of him to show the industry is willing to change.”

Hobbs adds: “I think Chris is a very skilled person and he will know the challenges at the Investment Association. He is different from Godfrey, although they are both very good, but they have a different skillset.”

Reportedly, a key reason for Godfrey’s departure was a feeling among members the organisation was becoming too aggressive over reforms on the transparency of fund performance fees and transaction costs.

“Chris has diplomacy, the ability to reconcile different points of view,” says Hobbs. “At TheCityUK and before that he has a proven track record of representing a broad spectrum of views. He’ll do a great job.”

A person close to the Investment Association, who asked to remain anonymous, welcomes the Cummings’ appointment, but says interim chief executive Guy Sears will be “disappointed” to have missed out on the role. Sears took over as interim chief executive when Godfrey left the trade body five months ago.

He says: “I think Chris is very professional and a good operator. Guy will be very disappointed. Chris will take the organisation where the members want to go rather than trying to lead where he thinks the industry needs to go.”

Apfa director general Chris Hannant says it is good to have someone “very, very familiar with the financial advisory industry” as well as someone that has been in the industry for a long time.

He says: “We are looking forward to working with him and the other members of the Investment Association going forward.”

At the time of his appointment, Cummings said: “I believe the UK’s asset management industry has the opportunity to adopt a greater role in society, generating wealth and lifelong financial well-being for millions of people and providing stable long-term financing to help British businesses to grow.”