Bright Spark Q&A – Gary Stockdale

Gary Stockdale, Head of Investment Strategy at Vertem, discusses his career and future aspirations

What led you into your chosen career?

I spent the early part of my career working in land surveying, which took me to some variable and less fashionable areas of the world. I found myself interested in the different economic systems I encountered, both good and bad, which prompted me to study politics & economics. My studies encouraged me to take a further interest in financial markets, which led me into current career, via the IFA sector.

Briefly, what does a typical working day comprise for you?

I begin my day be reading all the company news reported to the London Stock Exchange, looking for actionable information. This typically includes trading updates, along with interim and annual results. Not only does this enable me to identify companies that look good value, or expensive, but also helps to build up a picture of what is happening in the global economy. In this regard it is rather like building an information jigsaw. I put this into a daily summary and forward it to my colleagues. I then move onto analysing companies in my own sectors, which sit within financials and incorporate banks, insurers, financial services businesses and real estate investment trusts.

What does your company/organisation do and how is it making an impact?

Vertem is one of the region’s largest specialist stockbrokers. We create bespoke investment portfolios for professional clients, private individuals, charities and pension funds. Vertem utilises a wide investment universe alongside a dynamic investment process to deliver portfolios suited to modern markets. We hold over £300m of client assets, with tailored portfolios including ISAs, general accounts, SIPPs, offshore bonds, plus investment solutions for charity trustees.   In addition, we manage institutional style collective mandates on behalf of third party financial advisers, built to their own specification. Referencing our new marketing campaign, we offer the North-East a “very different” service. We do not offer financial advice, instead, as dedicated stockbrokers, aim to deliver enhanced returns for our clients.

Who or what has made the greatest impression on your career?

I can identify two great impressions. The first takes me back to my career in land surveying. I worked on some mining projects in Central Asia, the longest assignments being in Uzbekistan. This taught me some harsh lessons, not least the difficulties of assessing political risk, and perils of taking them lightly. The second great impression was the first company I worked for in financial services. The company was an insurance broker, with an IFA division, and were headquartered in York. At the time they were commended as being one of Yorkshire’s fastest growing companies. They were very aggressive, this was underlined by a 5ft tank of piranhas in the reception area. It taught me to be wary of companies that target aggressive growth, without any due consideration for sustainability. Fortunately, I left before they imploded. But personally, there was a positive side to this aggression. During my first day of work I was told I had to begin studying for my industry exams straight away. This no-nonsense attitude resulted in me passing all three papers in just over a year.

What are your company short and long-term aims?

I tend to think of a long-term as a series of short-terms. I believe if I can keep getting the short-terms right, then the long-term should take care of itself. This involves carrying out the best research I can and helping the company make good investment decisions on behalf of clients. In investment management, performance is the end product, upon which you are ultimately judged.

Gary Stockdale
Head of Investment Strategy
0191 341 0289