Fahim Imam-Sadeque is a business development professional with proven experience in the asset management industry. He has a Bachelor of Science in Actuarial Science from the City University of London and is a Fellow of the Institute of Actuaries. Fahim’s top skills include asset management, hedge funds, investment management, sales, and consultant & client relationship management.
Fahim, Thank you for talking with us. Tell me about your best and worst days at work.
Generally, the best days are when I interact with my clients instead of dealing with administrative matters. When working with my clients as prospective investors, I am helping them solve their problems. My goal is always to be a trusted adviser to my clients because they’ll come to me when they need the products I’m selling. I try not to actively sell them; it’s always a consultative sales process. My best days are when I’m helping my clients, and as a result, they come back to me and talk about my available solutions.
Then my worst days would be when nothing seems to be going right, and nothing we are working on is achieving what we wanted to achieve. I’m sure everybody has days like that, but all I can do is just keep going and trust in my process, and trust that I’ve got a tried and tested process that will work, even when I’ve had a rotten day and I think I’ve done everything wrong. If I keep going, I will, in all likelihood, be successful again.
Who do you enjoy the most working with?
The clients I’ve enjoyed working with the most are those I built up a deep rapport with. I understand where they’re coming from, so it’s not a salesman-purchaser relationship. Instead, it’s very much a trusted adviser relationship, whereby they know that I’m selling a product that can maybe help them solve issues they face. Or they come to me because they can have an intelligent and meaningful discussion about the issues they face.
What was your biggest “aha” moment?
My “aha” moment was when I was being interviewed by my mentor Alberto Francioni back in 2004, and I’d never interviewed for a salesman position before. I thought sales was a dirty word. He explained to me that what I was describing to him in terms of my character set— I was a technical individual, but I wanted to work and talk with clients and not invest money —he said, “Well, then you have the skill set of a salesperson. Everything you described tells me that you are potentially a salesperson of technical products, and I can help train you to be that.”
Suddenly, it all made sense because I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t making progress in my existing job. I had all these skill sets, character traits, and qualifications, but I didn’t know how to put them together to find the sure-fitting role. But then he helped guide me and, in that way, I was very lucky to cross paths with him.
What has been the most important part of your professional journey?
The most fruitful part of my professional journey has been constantly trying to learn what my mentor Alberto Francioni taught me over the subsequent years. He just brought things out of me and would advise me on things after that.
After I stopped working with him later on in my career, I always heard his voice in my head. So when I see an issue, something I want to work on, I just ask, “What would Alberto tell me to do? What would his advice be?” He taught me everything about dealing with clients, managing their issues, assisting them, and moving things forward in the sales process.
The beauty of what he taught me is it’s not a static set of rules. The approach he gave me is very flexible, and it depends on each client. So it’s not one set of rules for every client; each has its own requirements. You are applying a set of principles and seeing how they fit that situation. Things won’t ever be exactly the same, but there will be things that you’ve tried in the past that may have worked in one situation and other things that may have worked in another. You can bring these principles to bear, and usually, you will find success. Not necessarily immediately, but you will make progress over time.
What are the risks associated with the alternative investment industry?
One of the risks of our industry is that the investors I deal with, the strategies they’re dealing with can be very complex. One has to be careful that one gets paid to take that complexity risk as an allocator. Also, illiquidity is another risk that people need to ensure they get paid to take on. The current geopolitical and economic environment that we face is quite unstable. So investors are very concerned when it comes to allocation decisions, potentially locking up money for 7 to 10 years. That means they have to do a lot of due diligence before investing tens or maybe hundreds of millions of dollars into a particular strategy.
What would you do with unlimited resources?
I would definitely retire for a few years, but then I’d probably get bored because I’m still relatively young, in my early 50s. My wife would want me to use my brain and not be in the house all the time. I’d probably go back to work again because I’m doing what I like. I genuinely enjoy my work. But before going back, I would take my wife around the world a couple of times and see all the places we’re planning to see because you never know when you’d get the chance to do that again.
When was the last time you totally lost yourself in doing something?
The last time I completely lost myself was when I was with my family in Antigua in the summer. That was just a great holiday. I remember sitting on the beach, and one of my sons was paddle boarding in front of me, my wife was next to me, and my other son was next to me. That was great.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
I spend time with my family. I watch sports with my younger son. My older son is 20 now, and he’s into all sorts of things I have no understanding of. However, if I’m going to find a level with him outside of “How’s your university course going?” we have to have something to talk about so I make an effort to take an interest in what he’s interested in. I’d just like to stay on top of what my kids are up to and spend time with my family.
How do you feel you make a difference in the world?
Well, I hope I have made a difference. I don’t know if I have. I believe in something bigger than us. I’m a person of faith, so I just try to live my life every day as well as I can, and if that makes a difference, that’s great. I’ll always keep trying, but we don’t need to make a difference in life, in my opinion. You just need to try and live a good life and do the best you can every day. That’s all that matters.