The 2022 Goodbody Investor Summit provided an opportunity for investors to step away from the noise and volatility of financial markets and focus on some of the key building blocks of a long-term investment strategy. Beyond core allocations to benchmark equity and bond indices, there are a number of important strategies, including private equity and real estate, which can seek to enhance long-term expected returns, diversify portfolio risks, enhance local and global sustainability, or some combination of all three.
Watch back presentations from our most favoured strategies that Goodbody offers in-house or through exclusive investment partnerships across private markets, real estate and public markets and the key trends shaping the economic and investment landscape.
Goodbody recently appointed Michelle O’Keefe, as its new Head of Wealth Advisory. We sat down with Michelle to ask her about the new role, the challenges clients face and how being Ireland’s first female Head of Wealth is significant.
So I have been working in the wealth management industry for about 28 years, providing advisory, investment, corporate governance and treasury management advice to private clients, not for profit, charitable organisations, friendly societies and pension trusts. Prior to joining Goodbody, I was a Partner with BDO Accountants and set up and managed BDO Private Wealth Management Ltd for seven years, at which time I transferred the business to Goodbody. I previously worked for Davy Stockbrokers for over 18 years and was a Director in the Private Client division.
My role is Head of Wealth Advisory, a part of our business that looks after our higher net worth private clients, charity, credit union and corporate customers. We have seven teams spread across offices in Dublin, Cork and Galway who look after this very important group of clients. My role is to make sure these teams deliver the best advice and most suitable propositions to our customers. Increasingly that means providing sophisticated financial planning strategies alongside more traditional investment management.
Right now we are in a period where interest rates are very low and likely to remain so for some time. This makes it difficult particularly for low risk mandates to achieve reasonable returns. The current environment is forcing clients to take on additional risk in an effort to achieve income, so advice around this is important. The political environment, with the uncertainties that exist in Ireland and beyond, is also challenging. Meanwhile, the tax environment is always changing, even if it’s just tinkering at the margins from year to year. By providing clients with guidance and advice on investments and holistic financial planning using our wide range of expertise including tax and pensions experts, investment strategists and economists, I believe we can really make a contribution to helping clients achieve their financial goals.
I am really focused on ensuring our clients receive a high-touch, flexible service. For a long time, our business has been associated primarily with investment management, but there is so much more we can do for our clients to help with all kinds of situations. Financial planning – especially around important life events, is very central to what we do. Whether it’s planning for retirement, inheritance, the sale of a business, tax structuring or figuring out the best way to manage share options, it is important that we listen and work with our clients to ensure we help them meet their objectives. Every client and investment case is different and the flexible service that we offer recognises this. We want our clients to feel valued and cared for while meeting their objectives.
Goodbody has a huge pool of resources which all pull together to get a result and this is what we do for our clients every day. Goodbody is a very team-based work environment with a lot of great talent and being able to ensure our diversity of expertise is oriented towards achieving our clients’ objectives is very satisfying. Personally, I love client interaction and love winning new business. And of course, being able to deliver to client expectations and to provide solutions makes this role worthwhile.
So overall it is significant but most importantly I’m delighted about this appointment which comes after many years of working in all parts of this industry. The industry has changed so much in the three decades I have been working in it. As a professional and as a mother of two girls, it is great to see more and more really successful female wealth managers make their mark. Since I joined Goodbody in late 2014, the management team, particularly Roy Barrett, has been a huge advocate for growing and developing women into leadership positions within the firm and especially within wealth management. This makes great business sense. Not only do women represent a growing portion of our wealth client base, but women have a very prominent role in decision making when it comes to family wealth. So I think it is really important to reflect our understanding of that in our business and our client interactions.
In recent years we’ve had to respond proactively to evolving client demands. People want more than just investment management. Financial planning around areas of inheritance, business transfers, retirement and treasury management is now an integral part of our business and we have responded to this requirement by expanding our financial planning capabilities and growing our technical areas in pensions and tax expertise. At the same time we see a growing younger cohort of clients who are looking to access our services in different ways, especially digitally. This means that we have to be both more hands-on and highly automated so we can provide the tools our clients need to satisfy their requirements.
Goodbody has a great reputation in the market and I really think the people we have advising clients are top-class. Great people are a huge market differentiator. I want to exploit those attributes and help grow the business faster so our reputation is enhanced over the long term. I also want to make sure we develop a really strong next generation of advisors as our client base evolves and to ensure that clients are fully aware of, and have full access to, all the services Goodbody provides.