In 2019, Seven Investment Management (7IM) welcomed Investment Management CEO of the Year 2023 – London awardee Dean Proctor into the role, based off of his 25 years of direct experience and true passion for the industry. 7IM was established more than two decades ago back in 2002, driven by the goal of helping individuals, families, and advisers to efficiently manage their capital in order to fulfil all financial needs and aspirations. From the beginning to today, this has been achieved through an ethos that focuses on listening to what it is that clients want, and then tailoring these services to fulfil those specific needs. We have the pleasure of catching up with Dean, who tells us more about his career, experiences, and successes within the investment sector.
7IM has established a stellar name for itself within the investment and wealth management sector, and in just over 20 years of operating, has proudly amassed more than £23 billion in client assets. Just like every business, 7IM has its financial metrics, and the company starts out each year with a business plan and the necessary goals to reach these. The finished result is the output of a team’s effort, but for CEO Dean Proctor, it is the input that a company should concentrate its efforts on. He explains, “it’s important to have the right culture, values, and behaviours, of which you want yourself and your colleagues to embody, and we’ve done a lot of work with that over the last few years.”
Dean understands all too well just how varied the role of CEO can be but recognises that at the heart of the position is a responsibility to direct the firm and provide leadership, as well as operating at all times with a high degree of accountability. The emphasis, however, should be on helping all parties, whether these be clients or colleagues, on a daily basis, fully understanding the company’s purpose and giving the relevant direction to help it in the achieving of its aims. Taking over directly from the founders, it was initially difficult to navigate this period of change, but more than four years later, Dean is proud to be in a position where his colleagues are driving the change and leading from the front.
Leadership style is often something that evolves with time, and this is certainly the case with Dean, who explains, “I suspect when I first entered management roles, I was probably a little bit more directive than I am now.” This does not mean that he has sacrificed on any of his values, though, and Dean remains as driven now as ever. “I like the idea of 7IM being the best company in our space. I like the idea of it being the best place for colleagues to work and clients to entrust their money with.” Aiding the company in achieving this aim is something called “Vision, Purpose, Values, and Personality (VPVPs)”, something which 7IM’s colleagues collectively built and continue to live by.
The company serves both B2B and B2C clients, with 7IM’s B2C offerings focusing primarily on private client work, having a network comprising more than 6,000 private clients, whereas its B2B services consist of a range of intermediary solutions that are designed to support the c. 6,000 financial advice firms, and their financial planners, in the UK. Even though these services are primarily intangible, Dean is determined for the firm to successfully demonstrate its ability to differentiate. He elaborates, “you can differentiate in many ways, but for us, one of the key things is to make sure that our people are fully equipped and of the highest quality to deliver to our customers the outcomes and experiences that they would expect.”
At present, many of the issues that 7IM is facing stem from the fallout of global and macroeconomics, impacting everyone living in the UK. These include such areas as the cost-of-living crisis, a reduction in the disposable income of people, and increases in interest rates, with this trio combining to have a massive effect. The market has also faced its fair share of difficulties, and whether this be the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic or some of the international events taking place at present, there are rightful concerns about what the future of the market may look like.
It is for these reasons that Dean and the team strive to constantly provide a clear proposition that takes all of these contingencies into account. Dean eloquently explains, “after a relatively benign decade, that last two to four years have been far from that”, with massive changes in the landscape being felt as a result. An increase in demand has been apparent, especially in the digital sphere, with people aiming to access their wealth, view their portfolio, and have access to guidance and support on a 24/7 basis. Technology thus needs to change at an increasingly faster rate to keep up with this demand.
Moreover, regulation is too an area where change is being felt, with this ever-evolving field requiring extensive management time to understand and ensure that the most up-to-date policies are present across the business and its practices. Last but not least in painting a relevant picture of where the financial services space is at the moment is competitiveness, with this nature driving increasingly disruptive behaviour. For Dean, this results in “better customer proposition, product, and outcomes. So, when things come together, you generally see an industry that is involved in some pretty rapid innovative change.”
Looking ahead to the next 12 months and even further beyond, 7IM is currently preparing for completion of a sale, with its current majority owner Caledonia Investments PLC having agreed to a sell to Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, an investor on a global scale, that, pending approval, will become the firm’s majority owner in the near future. With this sale comes new opportunities for growth and development, yet Dean remains clear that, “our focus is always on our clients, to make sure we are delivering the service and performance levels that we aspire to for those clients.” It is thus an exciting time for Dean and the team, and it will be a great achievement for them to secure a new majority shareholder that is sure to support the firm’s strategic ambitions.
As for his career specifically, Dean has no plans to go anywhere for this next chapter in 7IM’s story and is both excited and committed in the continual carrying out of his duties. A fan of management and strategy books, Dean is always seeking out new ways to implement what he has learned, as well as learning through observation, recognising the work done by other great leaders in the industry. Dean continues, “I’m naturally a bit of a change agent. […] I believe leadership has a responsibility to keep driving positive change to ensure better outcomes.” In summary, Dean tells us, “there’s nothing better than knowing you’re doing right by your colleagues and your clients.”
Ultimately, 7IM is a unique firm, providing clients with the necessary advice and plans to meet their goals, with the services and solutions for advisers and planners to make their businesses more efficient, delivering the best possible outcomes overall. With plans to significantly invest in cutting-edge technology, the next few years are sure to be as pioneering for the firm as these first 20, and with Dean Proctor at the helm, trusted and long-standing relationships are sure to be formed, the digital age and all of its avenues fully embraced, and clients left happy and confident with their choice. For these reasons, Dean is more than worthy of this award, and we wish him and everyone at 7IM the best of luck for the future.
For more information, please visit https://www.7im.co.uk/