A renowned, long-time investor in small businesses, Philip Rodrigs is the Founder and CEO of his own small business with big ambitions: Raynar Portfolio Management.
Philip has 20 years of experience as an investor on the public markets in the UK, including multi-award-winning stints managing some of the largest funds dedicated to investments in small companies. He was twice named Investment Week UK Smaller Companies Fund Manager of the Year consecutively in 2010 and 2011, Financial Express UK Smaller Companies Alpha Fund Manager of the Year 2016 and, from a pool of all fund managers in London, awarded the prestigious title of Morningstar’s Outstanding Rising Talent in 2012.
Philip acquired a taste for the entrepreneurial approach when conceiving of and launching his uniquely structured Investment Company dedicated to micro-sized firms. Inspired by the many management teams he has invested with, Philip has taken the next step by founding his own investment firm. Phonetically combining the words ‘radar’ and ‘sonar’, Philip created Raynar with the strapline ‘Searching High and Low for Great Investments’ to convey the breadth of scope of the firm’s ambition to provide a great service to those eligible investors who contact the firm via the website www.raynarpm.com and fulfil the requirements to become Clients.
Philip was raised in Nottingham, UK and had the privilege of attending the local private school thanks to government financial assistance. He went on to read Economics and Management at Lincoln College, Oxford University before joining the City. He currently resides in London and enjoys global travel, driving, skiing and scuba diving.
How did you get started in this business?
I am very fortunate indeed to be able to say that my hobby is my job. I first discovered that fund management was a career option for me whilst at university, having started investing in shares on the stock market with a small gift from my Grandfather. It is fair to say I ‘bought a lot of experience’ with that gift, losing more than half of it as I learned some important lessons between 2000 and 2002. However, by the end of that period I ended up ahead having won prizes in some national stock selection competitions which cemented my desire to invest professionally. That passion enabled me to secure a trainee fund management role despite a challenging job market in 2002, and I quickly developed to the point at which I was handed a portfolio to manage at the age of 25. Now, twenty years after I first started investing with my grandfather’s gift, I have founded my own investment firm which I am very excited about.
How do you make money?
The business of fund management is about creating an investment fund which many Clients find attractive to invest in. The key to success in this industry is to build a portfolio that generates above-average returns for Clients, whilst providing a lower than average risk profile. My clients over the years have told me that they like the style in which I manage their money, and it is my ambition to continue to emulate this in the long term. Founding Raynar Portfolio Management is the culmination of my many years of working in other financial services firms and wanting to be at the helm of my own enterprise that is dedicated to enabling great client outcomes and operating ethically. In my view, putting clients first is the core foundation for long term success and profitability, as all stakeholders benefit together from an ethical approach.
How long did it take for you to become profitable?
Raynar Portfolio Management is one of the first financial services firms to be established in the new twenties, having commenced operations in January of 2020. Our plan is that by putting client interests first, we will quickly achieve a scale to be operating profitably comfortably within the first twelve months of operation. From the outset, Raynar Portfolio Management has been designed to be a lean and digitally enabled firm, with strong partners and a high degree of pragmatic flexibility. It was of course impossible to predict the Covid-19 pandemic, but it was possible to design the organization with the ability to support complete remote working to allow us to continue activities uninterrupted. I am pleased to say that has worked well for us. It is of course the case that the pandemic has tragic consequences, and also economic consequences that affect many people. However, in extreme circumstances there is also opportunity which we look forward to enabling for our clients going forwards. In addition, we look to direct investment funds to those companies that need it most to revive or boost their operations in these difficult times with the promise of better times ahead. Therefore, from a business perspective, we consider that we remain on our original timetable for achieving profitability.
When you were starting out, was there ever a time you doubted it would work? If so, how did you handle that?
As an entrepreneur, it is important to keep hold of your pragmatism and also your optimism as you push for the launch of your business. In the months leading up to our establishment in January 2020, there were many twists and turns with partners and suppliers, each providing the opportunity to consider the possibility that things might not work. However, at each of those moments, the conviction that creating the firm is the right thing to do renewed my ambition, and therefore at each juncture we found the way forward. I remain grateful to everyone that contributed to helping us get to where we are today
How did you get your first customer?
I am in the fortunate position that during my career I have good relationships with many long-standing clients. However, my first customer is not actually one of those I knew – they were invested with me without having met with me. It is an important characteristic of a launch customer that they are willing to take that leap of faith with you. In my case, that customer had already taken that leap of faith without meeting with me directly in the past, and, having met to discuss my plans, was willing to do so again with my new venture. Businesses such as mine are built on customers that are able to make decisions based on information at face value, for which entrepreneurs everywhere are always grateful.
What is one marketing strategy (other than referrals) that you’re using that works really well to generate new business?
Over the course of my career, there is only one strategy that really stands the test of time and that is – deliver a great outcome for Clients. Whether that is making high-quality products or providing a great service, consistent delivery that results in happy customers is the surest route to success. Raynar Portfolio Management is designed with precisely that thought in mind. The entire DNA and thought process behind the business is focused on enabling great Client outcomes. Hopefully, we can deliver as I have done in the past, which will prove to be the surest way to generate new business
What is the toughest decision you’ve had to make in the last few months?
I am in the fortunate position at this formative stage not to have had to make genuinely tough decisions. Looking ahead, it is likely to be the case that tough decisions will be about keeping tight control of the budget. I anticipate a few tough conversations with suppliers who we need to help us at our early stage. Doubtless, we will need to make our own compromises and find ways to get what we need within a constrained budget.
What do you think it is that makes you successful?
The answer to that question is: not modesty. As someone who much prefers to be modest, I have had to learn the hard way that in order to bring awareness to what you can offer to Clients, you need to promote to a certain degree. The key to success, ultimately, is passion. Bringing passion to what you do and being passionate when conveying your proposition to clients is vital. I am fortunate that my job has always been my hobby so I have no shortage of passion for what I do and I believe that is the common thread behind my achievements.
What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
If the answer to that is a single moment, that would be a very self-centered approach. The reality for me is that I have had many satisfying moments, all of them the same. These are when I have received some sort of insight that the Client is pleased with the outcome I have provided them. Whether that is a direct comment, or indirect, or whether it is via recognition from an external party, all of these moments bring me great satisfaction and spur me to continue to work to sustain that positive feedback.
What does the future hold for your business? What are you most excited about?
Raynar Portfolio Management is at its formative stage, but there is no doubt that I have a substantial ambition of what we could be capable of. In the near term, it is the case that the future does need to bring attractive client outcomes, as this is the key to long term success. I have a clear roadmap in my mind of what we may be able to achieve, but that remains under wraps for now. In the long term, I am proud that in the past I have twice grown business units from small beginnings to a billion-dollar scale, and it would be a great achievement to achieve this for a third time with my own firm.
What business books have inspired you?
The truth is I am not a great reader of business books. I have never had the time, as an investor in businesses. This is because I have spent my time reading what successful businesses I am invested in; or considering investing in; are saying, which is fundamental to selecting which investments to back. So, it is the case that when building my own firm, I recall the best, but also the worst, of what I have seen other firms do in reality. That is because it is important to learn from best practice, but also to learn the salutary lessons of those who have failed, to avoid making the same mistakes.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Everyone in the world needs to be a salesperson. Whatever you do, whatever your career, there is no escaping the reality that you will need to persuade someone else of the value of what you are doing, or indeed, of the value of yourself. My advice to my younger self would be to go beyond the education system to find opportunities to practice those emotional intelligence skills, be it selling cookies to neighbors or taking classes outside of school.
Are you willing to be a mentor? If so, how should someone contact you?
Something that has given me great satisfaction has been training young analysts in the arts of identifying good investments. My ambition to grow Raynar Portfolio Management will, of course, involve bringing on staff to assist with the investment management process, and I look forward to mentoring them. In my field, the core advice is that there really is no substitution to doing the work to really understand the fundamentals of a business. And more generally, rejoice in the opportunity to learn from mistakes. I was very fortunate to ‘buy a lot of experience’ when first investing my own money twenty years ago which has paid back many-fold, and I have also had the privilege of witnessing many other people’s mistakes, as well as my own, over the years. Learnings from negative events are worth multiples of the learnings from positive events.