Meet Our Team

Greater than the tread of mighty armies is an idea whose time has come

Oliver Cooke

Chairman

Oliver has over 30 years of financial and business development experience gained in a range of quoted and private companies including over ten years’ experience as a Public Company Director. He has considerable experience in the fields of acquisitions, disposals, fundraisings, turnarounds, restructurings and strategic transformation. Oliver is a Chartered Accountant and Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.

Brian Raven

Chief Executive

Brian was Chairman of Blacksquare and has been involved in the financial services sector since 2010. He has a wide range of business experience, having held many sales and general management posts at senior management and board level, including running public companies on both AIM and the Official List. Most notably, in 1991 Brian founded Card Clear Plc, subsequently renamed Retail Decisions plc, a business engaged in combating the fraudulent use of plastic payment cards. He led the company until 1998 by which time it was an international group, listed on AIM, with a market capitalisation of some £100 million. As a principal, Brian has been responsible for identifying, negotiating and integrating numerous acquisitions, as well as for delivering organic growth.

Roderic Rennison

Non-executive Director

Roderic has spent more than 35 years in financial services encompassing a variety of roles including sales, strategy, product development, proposition, operations and latterly acquisitions, mergers, and integrations together with corporate affairs, risk and regulatory matters. He provides consultancy services in the financial services sector to a range of providers, fund managers and intermediaries and particularly specialises on RDR, for which he chaired the professionalism and reputation work stream within the Financial Services Authority. Roderic is a member of the Chartered Insurance Institute’s Disciplinary Committee, having previously been a member of its Professional Standards Board and Executive Board.

Peter Dornan

Non-executive Director

Peter has spent more than 40 years in the financial services industry. Having joined AEGON in 1981 as a sales consultant he progressed through a series of sales and general management positions to being appointed to the executive management board in 1999. He had executive responsibility for post-acquisition integration of a number of businesses including Guardian Assurance, Positive Solutions and Origen. Peter was also responsible for Scottish Equitable International in Luxembourg from 1996 until 2002 and was appointed chairman of AEGON Ireland when it was launched in 2002. Since 2012, Peter has acted as a consultant to a number of businesses within the financial services sector with a particular emphasis on governance, risk management and financial controls.

Oliver Cooke

Chairman

Oliver has over 30 years of financial and business development experience gained in a range of quoted and private companies including over ten years’ experience as a Public Company Director. He has considerable experience in the fields of acquisitions, disposals, fundraisings, turnarounds, restructurings and strategic transformation. Oliver is a Chartered Accountant and Fellow of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants.

Brian Raven

Chief Executive

Brian was Chairman of Blacksquare and has been involved in the financial services sector since 2010. He has a wide range of business experience, having held many sales and general management posts at senior management and board level, including running public companies on both AIM and the Official List. Most notably, in 1991 Brian founded Card Clear Plc, subsequently renamed Retail Decisions plc, a business engaged in combating the fraudulent use of plastic payment cards. He led the company until 1998 by which time it was an international group, listed on AIM, with a market capitalisation of some £100 million. As a principal, Brian has been responsible for identifying, negotiating and integrating numerous acquisitions, as well as for delivering organic growth.

Roderic Rennison

Non-executive Director

Roderic has spent more than 35 years in financial services encompassing a variety of roles including sales, strategy, product development, proposition, operations and latterly acquisitions, mergers, and integrations together with corporate affairs, risk and regulatory matters. He provides consultancy services in the financial services sector to a range of providers, fund managers and intermediaries and particularly specialises on RDR, for which he chaired the professionalism and reputation work stream within the Financial Services Authority. Roderic is a member of the Chartered Insurance Institute’s Disciplinary Committee, having previously been a member of its Professional Standards Board and Executive Board.

Peter Dornan

Non-executive Director

Peter has spent more than 40 years in the financial services industry. Having joined AEGON in 1981 as a sales consultant he progressed through a series of sales and general management positions to being appointed to the executive management board in 1999. He had executive responsibility for post-acquisition integration of a number of businesses including Guardian Assurance, Positive Solutions and Origen. Peter was also responsible for Scottish Equitable International in Luxembourg from 1996 until 2002 and was appointed chairman of AEGON Ireland when it was launched in 2002. Since 2012, Peter has acted as a consultant to a number of businesses within the financial services sector with a particular emphasis on governance, risk management and financial controls.

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Q2 2021 Quarterly Perspectives

Welcome to the Q2-2021 ‘Quarterly Perspectives’ publication

Rise of the Underdog

In its latest economic outlook, the OECD increased its expectations for global GDP. For 2020, the improvement is minimal, reflecting an upward revision, in real GDP, from -4.5% to -4.2%. But beyond that, growing economic momentum should boost global growth to pre-pandemic levels, estimated at 4.2% in 2021 and 3.7% in 2022.

Let the Good Times Roll

Markets are ebullient, and they have every reason to be.

Nothing Is More Powerful Than an Idea Whose Time Has Come

On Monday afternoon, global stock markets soared on the news BioNTech and Pfizer had created a coronavirus vaccine which proved 90% effective based on initial trial results. The story behind the breakthrough, which you can read here, is fascinating, not least because the husband and wife team behind the virus don’t yet know why it works.

Anatomy of an Election (So far…)

The narrative, heading into the US election, was a ‘Blue Wave’ victory for the Democrats. Polls and betting odds favoured a Biden win and a Senate majority and investors positioned accordingly. Anticipation for a huge fiscal stimulus package, estimated at $3 trillion+, lent itself to the global reflation trade which would stimulate the economy and revive inflation, benefiting cyclical assets whilst hitting government bonds.

Since the Market Low

The ACUMEN Portfolios continued their strong run throughout October, largely outperforming the market composite benchmark and IA sectors (used for peer group comparison purposes) which lost ground across the board.

Canary in the Vol-Mine

With the US election just 8 days away, financial markets are following the polls and pricing in a Biden win. The prospect for a Democratic clean sweep has contributed to the rising ‘Blue Wave’ narrative benefiting those companies that stand to benefit from Democratic party policy. Meanwhile a long/short basket of companies more closely aligned with Republican policy and values has steadily underperform.

Q4-2020 Quarterly perspectives

Welcome to the Q4-2020 ‘Quarterly Perspectives’ publication.