After one of the most challenging years in stock market history, OCM Wealth Management has been given the best possible vote of confidence by its clients, in the shape of a prestigious industry award, and the industry, with an ‘Expert’ rating for manging investments.
Managing clients’ investments in what has been, at times, the most volatile of markets called for a combination of expertise, nerve and self-belief. And in February the firm was accredited with another 5-star rating from Defaqto and awarded an expert rating as a Discretionary Fund Manager managing Model Portfolios. Then, in March, as a result of its efforts, the firm also picked up two awards at the City of London Wealth Management Awards. Jason Stather-Lodge was named Wealth Management CEO of the Year and Frances Noons took the Outstanding Individual Achievement title.
Jason said: “This comes on top of us achieving a Defaqto 5-star rating and it’s fantastic to be recognised like this after the year we’ve all just faced. What makes it so special for me is that it’s a national award that is entirely based on clients and connected parties voting for us. We were up against some of the biggest national names, so what that means to me, is that virtually every one of my clients must have voted.
“Frances’s award is thoroughly deserved and is entirely for her. Mine is for the whole team here because I couldn’t do what I do without them doing what they do.”
OCM Wealth Management, based at The Lakes in Northampton, employs 35 staff delivering the firm’s Power of 3 to high net worth and ultra-high net worth individuals. The Power of 3 runs through the core of OCM bringing together as it does three professional disciplines that deliver a powerful client focused proposition. The ‘three’ are Independent Chartered Financial Planning, a Discretionary Asset Management function, and Tax planning specialist – combining in a seamless and first class, cost and time efficient service to clients.
Whereas the average age in the wealth management sector is around 58 and very much male dominated, the average age of the OCM Wealth Management team is 27 with a strong diverse mix of staff, with those that have seniority and experience mentoring the younger staff. Since lockdown first began in March 2020, the team has pulled together on behalf of clients to mitigate the worst effects of the pandemic on financial markets so the service has been delivered without any interruption.
“The fact is that throughout the past year, we have communicated constantly with our clients and been proactive,” said Jason. “When the markets went dark at the very beginning of March 2020, we sold assets to protect investment valuations as much as we could. Then, gradually, as we started seeing banks and governments step in to offer some support and stability, we began to buy back whilst there was blood on the streets and proactively invest into risk assets again. This option was only created by having the conviction to take risk off the table in the first place.
“There was still volatility, but I can confidently say that if, for instance, the market was down 30, we would only be down 10, because we made the right decisions.
“You have to have conviction, even if it turns out you were wrong. People might say I got lucky, but there’s only so many times you can get lucky before you have to see that it is about conviction and knowing the strategy. Having the guts to take the decision.
“A lot of people in this industry are scared that they might be wrong. I’m never scared that I might be wrong, I’m only scared about letting my clients down, and having capital preservation in every client mandate is our reality to protect against the extreme events, not to attempt market timing which is impossible, so if we did not do it we would not be operating in line with our mandate.”
At the centre of that activity is the team Jason has pulled together since he founded the business in 2004. Within the next two and a half years, when those currently in training qualify, there will be ten Chartered Financial Planners at OCM Wealth Management, all of whom will have been trained internally.
Each one takes five years to train but in Jason’s view, that’s the kind of investment that needs to be put in to build a team that works the way he wants the business to work.
“Whenever it has been safe to do so, this team has worked in the office and not from home,” said Jason. “They can work from home if they want to, they just choose not to because we operate as a hive with the pod rotating around the client being the focus and each pod functions as one, and it is hard to do that effectively when operating from different locations. Everyone has been working in their own pods, but they are in the office, working as a team and feeding off one another because they want to be.
“We’ve spent years training them to talk to clients, and about the way we are running this business in today’s world. If my staff put my clients first, I will put them first and look after them.
“We’ve won an award and even though I am Wealth Management CEO of the Year, it has been a team effort, and they have delivered on what I have always dreamt of delivering.”
Find out more about OCM Wealth Management or call 01604 621467.