Distribution specialist shares experience launching consultancy August 2020


Distributions specialist Steve Larkin spent years selling other people's products and services. Now he's... still selling other people's products and services but doing it through his own independent distribution service.

He shares his experiences moving away from the stability of 15 years with BNP Paribas and the challenges and victories founding 3PD.

What was the biggest change for you, going from working for someone else to working for yourself?

I think it creates a new mindset. Working for yourself means you are creating your own future. You don’t have any of the large company infrastructure but it does mean that you are learning a lot more, being exposed to new things such as building and designing your own website, setting your own strategy and direction, free from corporate limitations and rules. You determine priorities, you make things happen and are totally accountable for everything. It is very exciting and rewarding.

Why did you choose to create an independent distribution office when you left BNP Paribas, rather than finding another shop to work in?

Again, it is important to create your own destiny. I love what I do and believe we will represent offshore managers very well. We know the Australian and New Zealand markets well. We can add value by being small, independent and client focussed. We have no Head Office to answer to. Avoiding some of the inevitable bureaucracy that goes with working in a large corporation means that you can make decisions and act on them quickly. You can be responsive and nimble. To be working for yourself is incredibly motivating and satisfying.

What are the benefits of outsourcing distribution?

Outsourcing distribution is a win/win for an offshore manager. They can partner with an Australian based distributor, who understands the local market, has a wide network of contacts and can hit the ground running. This means, rather than be distracted by establishing a sales presence with staff, office space etc, they can focus on what they are good at – investing!

Your first partnership is with an ESG investing specialist. Do you think you’ll keep working in that space or do you plan to diversify your clients?

We will look at additional clients on their merits – we want to represent investment managers that bring something unique to the Australian market. Promethos Capital brings outstanding credentials – a well regarded Portfolio Manager and investment team.

You’re representing international clients who are making entries into the Australian and New Zealand markets. What challenges does that bring? And what opportunities?

Challenges – crowded and competitive market, many established players.

Opportunities – we know the Australian and New Zealand market well. Clients know us and this should help in speaking to them about new investment opportunities. Local Investors are very sophisticated and always receptive to learning about new entrants. Also, being the “first” local investor in a new strategy can appeal.

Bringing a new investment manager to Australia and New Zealand is a fantastic opportunity – no preconceived ideas, no misconceptions, an open slate!

How do you approach distribution differently with the restrictions coming from COVID-19?

The same principles apply. Whilst face to face meetings are preferable (in my opinion), Zoom and its equivalents can fill in a lot of gaps. In addition, webinars and podcasts allow current and prospective investors to see and hear investment teams. Conferences and seminars are also becoming “virtual” and we will look to have key people speak at these, where appropriate.

Although travel is limited, and overseas travel unlikely until the end of next year, clients can access a growing number of experts on the ground in overseas cities, who can perform on-site due diligence on prospective and existing offshore managers for them.

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