BusinessCompany NewsOn the money with Damian Wild

On the money with Damian Wild

Jim Pettigrew has seen it all. As finance director of ICAP, he held the purse strings of a FTSE 100 inter-dealer broker that had grown to the point where it was handling $500bn a day

Damian Wild, AccountancyAge

Along the way, he had to rebuild its financial systems from scratch when the
business’s New York offices were destroyed in the terrorist attack on the World
Trade Center.

At Ashmore, a fund management group that specialises in emerging markets
debt, he’s still involved in a business that handles mind-boggling sums: the
group has more than $23bn (£11.2bn) of assets under management.

So when he flies in the face of popular opinion and urges FDs to seek out the
opportunities created by the current market volatility, it’s worth taking note
of such an experienced hand keeping his head.

Especially when so many around him are losing theirs. Published this week,
the latest CBI/PricewaterhouseCoopers financial services survey shows a sector
more fearful than it’s been at any time in the last 16 years.

To paraphrase, most financial services firms have grown much more pessimistic
and most expect the credit crunch to squeeze business volumes, incomes and
profitability.

But don’t assume that holds true for everyone. Only those with the shortest
of time horizons will turn off their investment taps completely.

Every threat, says Pettigrew, throws up an opportunity.

‘The cost of borrowing has obviously increased, but the flip side is that a
clever FD holding a cash balance can get a better yield for the company’s
shareholders,’ he says.

Think about exchange rates, he urges, and manage currency risk. The same goes
for interest rates: don’t duck a decision about whether to stick or float.

As Pettigrew says, ‘It is a very interesting time for FDs.’

Damian Wild is editor-in-chief of Accountancy Age

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