Alan Beasley was managing director and country head of BNP Paribas Investment Partners from 1996 to 2002. In the first of our regular Q&As that ask 'Where are they Now?', he speaks with Penny Pryor about his views on financial services and what he's been up to since.
Why did you leave financial services?
BNP Paribas restructured their investment management business on a global basis, moving out of the direct ownership of investment management production businesses. I sold that business in Australia for BNP, which coincided with a significant health issue with my wife and one of my daughters. I therefore took the opportunity to step away from the day-to-day senior executive role, in order to take care of my family’s health issues. I also became somewhat disenchanted with the direction of financial services, in that:
- The banks were commoditising money.
- The unions were commoditising superannuation.
- The consultants had commoditised investment management.
- Investment managers were not able to perform to their best, for fear of underperforming, hence a preoccupation on index hugging.
- Investment managers were in essence “swapping paper”, rather than investing to produce something worthwhile. Focussing on the short term rather than the longer term.
- A number of other factors were emerging in the industry, which the industry at large was not addressing.
Where are you now?
I haven’t exited the financial services industry completely, just the day-to-day senior management position of running the business. I have broadened my portfolio of interests taking on non-executive director, and consulting positions in a number of industries, including oil and gas, iron ore, IT, IP, life sciences, and financial services.
In what way is your new industry different to financial services?
The additional industry sectors I am involved with are involved with producing something tangible, and which will make a difference. The financial services companies I am still involved with are also innovative, visionary, and will make a difference, by introducing new concepts, markets, and efficiencies.
What do you like about it?
My roles now, are exciting, innovative, diverse, allow flexibility of time, and “produce” tangible goods and services that “make a difference” I’m able to focus on strategy, long-term benefits and returns, and making a difference
What don’t you like about it?
- These activities are perceived to have a higher risk than the “vanilla” everyday investments and therefore lack the “acceptability” by “the industry” of the more mundane investments.
- I am not able to use the total amount of the experience I’ve gained over the last 30 years.
- I see the same mistakes made by newer entrants to the industry that were made years ago.
What did you learn in financial services, that has helped you in your new role?
Long term focus, disciplines, strategy, team-motivating.
What do you miss about financial services?
I guess the day-to-day “buzz”, the team effort, not being involved day to day with the people who I’ve associated with over a long period of time, from all aspects of the industry
Would you go back to a career in financial services?
I still am involved in financial services, so the question is would I go back to a senior executive role on a day-to-day basis. Yes I would, to the right role, with the right organisation, and the right people who I respect, like, and want to work with.