A cocktail-making event featuring non-alcoholic ingredients is an unconventional way to attract the attention of young investors.
Especially when most fresh-faced workers prefer to imbibe something a little stronger on a Thursday evening as the weekend draws near.
But this is the unorthodox tactic currently being used by upmarket stockbroker Killik & Co to attract new – and possibly younger – clients to the benefits of long-term wealth management.
Attracting a new crowd: A cocktail-making event featuring non-alcoholic ingredients is an unconventional way to attract the attention of young investors
There was method in all the cocktail-making madness. The lessons were given by Jonny, a representative of Seedlip, manufacturer of the world’s first modern non-alcoholic spirit.
Seedlip is a distinctive brand that is gaining traction in the nation’s bars and restaurants that many young people (and would-be investors) frequent. Jonny enthralled the audience with the story of Seedlip’s birth in 2014.
Under the leadership of founder Ben Branson, it has produced three ‘spirits’ – aimed at people who want an alternative to a non-alcoholic cocktail – built around elderflower cordial or fruit juice.
Its latest spirit – Garden 108 – is distilled largely from peas grown on Branson’s family farm in Lincolnshire, with a bit of hay and a few hops thrown in for good measure.
Seedlip takes its name from the device worn around the necks of farmworkers used to sew pea seeds.
Apart from the fascinating history lesson, what emerged as interesting to would-be investors was the fact that Seedlip is part-funded by Diageo, one of the world’s largest (alcoholic) drinks companies.
Breaking down barriers: Killik wants to dispel the image of the stuffy pinstriped club that stockbroking often exudes
Diageo is also one of the biggest stocks in the FTSE 100 Index of leading UK shares, a company whose shares Killik & Co regularly buys for clients.
As Richard Morris, relationship manager at Killik, told the small gathering: ‘As an investor, you need to be aware of the things that people are buying.’
It is one of the first rules of investing for newcomers: always buy something you know. And if you see plenty of people purchasing a particular brand, then this indicates you might be on to a winner by backing the shares of the company that sells it.
Killik plans to run similar events throughout the year. The aim is to dispel the image of the stuffy pinstriped club that stockbroking often exudes.
I might invest in the future
Novice investor Isabella, 23, says: ‘I have just started out on my career – working for a technology start-up company – so investing in shares for my future is not quite a top priority.
‘I don’t know much about the stockmarket but do want to learn. I was intrigued by the cocktail event. I thought it might be daunting but given it was on my way home from work, I thought I would go along.
‘The Killik team who welcomed us were friendly and casually dressed. There were no City types with serious suits and ties which put me at ease.
‘A quote on the wall was about the only hint that this might be the office of a financial company – “Everyone is an investor, whether consciously or not. The brand you buy and the businesses you interact with are all indicators of how you view the world.”
‘The cocktail-making lesson was fun and I enjoyed hearing about how Seedlip came to be. Gin and tonic is my usual drink of choice, so I was intrigued by the concept of an alternative non-alcoholic spirit with tonic. It was also interesting to learn that if I wanted to share in the business’s potential success I could invest in it – indirectly – by purchasing shares in Diageo.
‘The event was clearly a conscious effort on Killik’s part to be more approachable – and I think it worked. I didn’t feel any pressure to sign up with them but the overall positive, relaxed experience meant they could well be on my radar in the future when I do have money to dabble in shares.’
According to Morris, the evening’s presentation was an experiment in providing a softer way of ‘showcasing some of the companies that we invest in’.
The event certainly provided an insight into how many businesses work – with managers striving to produce good products and profits, not only for the benefit of customers and the business but for shareholders too.
The gathering of mainly 20 and 30-somethings was held at Killik’s newest office dubbed ‘House of Killik’ – a glass-fronted space that looks on to Northcote Road, the fashionable high street in London’s Battersea.
Morris says the office has been deliberately designed to be welcoming to locals so they can just drop in and discuss future investment options.
Not something passers-by could achieve with most investment houses that normally hide in anonymous buildings, situated within London’s Square Mile. Morris says: ‘There are no suits or city jargon here.’
CASH IN AT THE COUNTRY FAIR
Quilter Cheviot runs several events for new investors. Scott Stevens, head of business development, says: ‘One of our main ones is the investment hub at the Countryfile Live event, a country fair which will held in August at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire and Castle Howard, North Yorkshire.’
‘The hub provides guests with the opportunity to learn more about our services, as well as meet some of our investment managers.’
The firm also runs events countrywide for 17 to 26 year olds on general money management. This includes presentations from external speakers across the financial spectrum and an introductory talk on stock markets and investing.
FINANCE WITH FOOD ON THE MENU
Investec Click & Invest organises events aimed at under 35s in partnership with accountancy association ICAS.
One recent event, with food and drink served, focused on explaining the difference between saving and investing and how each plays a part in financial planning.
Appealing: One recent event, with food and drink served, focused on explaining the difference between saving and investing and how each plays a part in financial planning
To attract the first timer, the company has also recently reduced its minimum lump sum investment in its portfolio of actively managed funds to £2,500.
THE ONLINE TEACH-IN
Investment broker AJ Bell runs events countrywide in conjunction with Shares, a financial magazine it owns.
It recently held a conference in London for first-time investors on how to build a portfolio.
AJ Bell also broadcasts live webinars, including one on how first-timers can navigate their way through the investment jungle.
The broker also teams up with Shares to record podcasts that break down big investment topics – cutting out jargon so as to appeal to those who are less investment savvy.
EDUCATION ON THE INTERNET
Online broking behemoth Hargreaves Lansdown, with over one million clients, does not do face to face events. Instead it offers educational content online.
The company is happy to do business with beginners, however, many of whom are directed to its Simply Invest offering – a low-cost way into investing via a single passive (index-tracking) fund from Legal & General. Those who sign up receive educational material for a year.
BRANCH OUT AT THE BANK
Barclays bank provides most of its help for beginner investors online through its Smart Investor website – a mix of guides, articles and videos.
Those who sign up as customers also receive emails with tips on how to invest. Premier bank accounts holders periodically receive invitations to beginner investing events at their local branch.
FUND MANAGER ‘FIGHT CLUB’
Interactive Investor has just started a series of events for private investors. The first, held recently, was titled Fund Manager Fight Club – with two fund managers going head to head with an audience voting afterwards on which fund they would put their money in.
Engaging language is a vital part of the event and attendees are encouraged not to be afraid to ask stupid questions.
This is a bit of a theme for the broker that is also inviting customers and the general public to message it with investment questions they are too embarrassed to ask – perhaps because they think they are too basic.
Time for battle: At the Fund Manager Fight Club two fund managers go head to head
Moira O’Neill says: ‘The world of investment is a minefield of jargon, and knowing how to get started can be intimidating.
‘Terms such as platform, active management and robo adviser have nothing to do with railway stations, fitness or actual robots. So there can be few questions that are as stupid as some of the jargon the industry has invented.’
The broker also emphasises that investors do not have to be wealthy to invest – it is possible to get started from as little as £25 per month. With this group in mind Interactive Investor offers three ‘quick start’ low cost, passively managed funds from Vanguard.
APP THAT LETS PEOPLE BUY SHARES FOR FREE
A new sharebuying app called Freetrade was launched last year with the aim of offering a low cost challenger service to expensive and stuffy stockbroking services.
So far 15,000 investors have signed up with 75,000 more on its waiting list. The app allows investors to buy shares, exchange traded funds and investment trusts for free – so long as purchasers are happy to join with other customers to buy via a ‘basic order’, which is made at 4pm each day.
Those who want to make an instant order rather than gamble on what might happen at one point in the afternoon can pay £1 a trade. This compares to £10-£12 charged by many mainstream brokers.
If customers want to hold stocks and shares in an Isa the fee is £3 a month. Founder Adam Dodds says: ‘Our app means people can start investing for no cost.’
The app has a few tweaks in the pipeline. For example, customers at the moment can only make purchases by a bank transfer but debit card facilities will follow soon. It also hopes to eventually give investors access to fractional shares.
For example, Facebook shares cost $170 (£130), with a single share potentially out of reach for many who would like to have a piece of the social media company’s potential future success – with fractional shares they might be able to buy exposure for just £10.
Freetrade holds monthly gatherings aimed at first time investors, explaining the advantages of stock market investing ‘over beer, wine and pizza’. Investors can also exchange ideas via the app’s online community.