Baillie Gifford is an ideal place for anyone looking to start a career in investment management. Therefore, Andrew Telfer, the current CEO, started his journey as a graduate trainee. His chances of being picked were slim since the firm usually takes only 20 trainees from over 2000 applicants, yet Telfer managed to start working there with a base salary of £36,000. Although he does not reveal his current salary and his net worth is still under speculation, it is obvious the different positions he has held in the firm have had lucrative salaries. Let's look at a few facts about this investment manager to understand his journey towards the top job.
1. He studied for a Degree He didn't Plan on Pursuing
Education has been hailed as the key that unlocks our futures, but most people find that studying a certain degree limits their career options. Luckily, it is never too late to shift gears and follow your heart. Therefore, even after Telfer attended a very comprehensive school to study Engineering Sciences, he knew that his future would be in investment management. Consequently, he later trained as an accountant.
2. He Started Investing While Still in School
The great thing about money is that it knows no age; even a child is excited to put as little as he can in his piggy bank, knowing the potential it holds to buy as many toys as he will want. However, Telfer was not interested in adding toys to his collection, as he told Baillie Gifford, he had always been fascinated by how research could positively impact people's lives. Hence, his days in school were spent studying hard and working several jobs to earn money to start investing and positively change his own life.
3. He is a Feminist
The gender disparity in different countries manifests itself in various forms. In the corporate world, it presents itself as women being passed over for senior positions as men are believed to be more capable. It had been a bitter pill to swallow for so long until men like Telfer decided to join the fight against gender inequality. The executive disclosed that despite the challenge of retaining female employees, especially when they reached mid-career, Baillie Gifford was doing its best to ensure that more women had a seat at its high table.
4. How He Spends His Free Time
All work and no play would make Telfer a very dull investment manager; hence he found a way to balance his work and family life. Although he has a very understanding family that acknowledges his job is very demanding, Telfer still sets aside time to recharge. Wherever he is not at the office, you will most likely catch him doing one of his three favorite leisure activities: reading, hill walking, and playing tennis.
5. His Secret to Success
There is no clear path to success; some believe that the secret lies in being ready for the opportunity whenever it arrives, while others opine it's a matter of believing in yourself. Colin Powell once said that there are no secrets to success, but it usually results from hard work, preparation, and learning from our failures. Telfer attributes his prosperity to working hard, going out of his comfort zone, and continuously adding to his skills. He thinks that pushing oneself beyond one's comfort zone is essential to succeed.
6. He Likes His Managers to Keep Reading
Since Telfer loves reading and prioritizes expanding his knowledge in whichever way he can, he expects the same from his managers. According to Financial News, he wants them to have different perspectives on how to handle life and work challenges. Therefore, the investment management firm has an in-house library stacked with books exposing the managers to varying things as Telfer expects them to be all-rounded. He leads by example and confessed to having read a very instructive book, "Emotional Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman. The firm's love for a reading culture is also evidenced by their support for Edinburg's Book Festival.
7. He Encourages Brainstorming
Some CEOs do not pay attention to what their employees are thinking, yet they are on the ground and better placed to report on whatever the company should do to improve its services or products. Telfer is cut from a different cloth; he appreciates knowing whatever his managers are thinking, and even if they cannot go to his office, he has provided a platform where they can share their ideas. Baillie Gifford has an online research library where managers are encouraged to share their ideas to ensure they don't get lost, yet they could significantly impact the firm.
8. He is the Only One Remaining from the Baillie Gifford Graduate Intake of 1992
Every career has a beginning, and Telfer's was at Baillie Gifford graduate program, which he joined in 1992 and has since worked in various capacities. It is not an everyday occurrence to have someone stay in a firm for almost thirty years and still not be in a hurry to make any changes, yet Telfer is content. To cement how long he has been in the investment management firm, he is the only one remaining in the firm, the 1992 graduate program. Luckily, it has been worth his while as he has climbed the ladder to reach the top ranking job.
9. He is a Private Person
The Financial Times tried to have Telfer reveal his salary as Baillie Gifford's CEO, but he would not disclose. He rarely talks about his personal life and prefers his interviews to be strictly about his business. However, he confessed his love for mountain biking, tennis, and walking his dog. He also has a wife and two children, which was as far as he could go regarding his family life.
10. He Dislikes Fun Managers who Overprice Their Services
Telfer does not seem to have a problem with charging premium fees, but only if a firm delivers high-quality services. However, those who charge exorbitant fees and provide poor results frustrate him because they tarnish the entire industry's reputation.
Written by Allen Lee
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