A long-time investor in small businesses, Philip Rodrigs is the founder and CEO of his own small business with big ambitions: Raynar Portfolio Management.
Rodrigs has 20 years of experience as an investor on the public markets in the U.K., including multi-award-winning stints managing some of the largest funds dedicated to investments in small companies. Rodrigs acquired a taste for the entrepreneurial approach when conceiving and launching his uniquely structured investment company dedicated to micro-sized firms. Inspired by the many management teams he has invested with, Rodrigs has taken the next step by founding his own investment firm. Phonetically combining the words “radar” and “sonar,” Rodrigs created Raynar with the strapline “Searching High and Low for Great Investments” to convey the breadth of scope of the firm’s ambition to provide a great service to those eligible investors who contact the firm via its website and fulfill the requirements to become clients. Raynar Portfolio Management is a trading name of Met Facilities LLP which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FRN: 587084)
Rodrigs was raised in Nottingham, U.K., and had the privilege of attending the local private school thanks to government financial assistance. He went on to read economics and management at Lincoln College, Oxford University before joining the city. He currently resides in London and enjoys global travel, driving, skiing, and scuba diving.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
Having been an employee in the investment management industry, I have experienced the excitement of contributing to the success of a growing firm but also learned many valuable lessons along the way of what to avoid. Being at the helm of my own firm means I can instill a culture that puts client interests first and operates entirely ethically from day one.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
In the investment industry, it is important to make time to read about what’s really going on in the world. Being a night owl (and certainly not a morning lark!), the only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning is the intrigue of what’s new in the news, so I make sure I read widely in the morning, including whilst on my spin bike! The middle of the day is typically about meetings, keeping up the pace on admin, and generally ensuring that the business side of things is progressing. Also, this is the time when I manage the portfolio and make investments. Then, after markets close, the focus returns to studying companies – reading about their strategy and market opportunities and examining their financials. This is the time when, every now and again, you may unearth a hidden gem. That excitement is why I started investing in shares as a hobby, and I count myself lucky that my hobby is now my job, as the secret to being productive, in my view, is being passionate about what you do.
How do you bring ideas to life?
In portfolio management, it is a constant process of renewal to bring your best ideas to bear in your clients’ portfolios. From the initial thought, the selection of a small company to invest in germinates through fundamental analysis and senior management interview until finally making it into the portfolio where, hopefully, you get to see that idea flourish in reality as the ownership stake grows. The portfolio, therefore, is the embodiment of many separate ideas that come together and hopefully enable us to deliver optimal client outcomes.
What’s one trend that excites you?
There is no doubt that technology is profoundly changing all aspects of our lives in very short periods of time. It is a real privilege to be involved in investing in small companies, as it is very often the case that the next big thing starts out small and overlooked. I have been excited to gain early glimpses into new potential cures for cancer and profound improvements to education, as well as enjoying tasty new beverages. The new trend I am most excited about now is known as robotic process automation, where a software robot emulates humans in interacting with computer systems, reducing boring and repetitive tasks and freeing up workers to add more value to the organization. In my view, RPA is the way that many firms will be able to introduce artificial intelligence into their work processes, which could be the source of the next big wave of productivity gains for society.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I always like to understand how something works. If you understand the fundamentals of why something is the way it is, you can either work with it better or find a better way of doing that thing entirely.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Everyone in the world needs to be a salesperson. Whatever you do, whatever your career, there is no escaping the reality that you will need to persuade someone else of the value of what you are doing or, indeed, the value of yourself. My advice to my younger self would be to go beyond the education system to find opportunities to practice those emotional intelligence skills, be it selling cookies to neighbors or taking classes outside of school.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
All great societies fail, and ours will too. Every one of us can look back over history and name many great civilizations that ultimately failed. But very few of us can look at our own society and see the same fate. The same is true for organizations. Looking back every 10 years, you will see that the largest companies then are much diminished now. This is the natural life cycle of collections of human beings, where the enthusiasm and fervor of building something new from small beginnings gives way to hubris and bureaucracy that sews the seeds of failure. I have seen this repeatedly as an investor, so I will try very hard to defy that fate myself.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Every month, I try to look at things afresh, trying to forget about what came before. The human tendency is to keep hold of familiar ideas and thoughts and reject new information that may threaten your cherished view. But doing so can be very expensive within a portfolio of investments, and the same is true for many aspects of a business. So, I look to re-examine the budgets and the operational decisions in place repeatedly, considering what I know now that I didn’t before, and determine whether to continue or to change.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
When I look at my investment portfolios through the years, the one thing that hasn’t changed is my desire to invest in strongly positioned, well-managed businesses. So, when I look forward, it is important to stick to that strategy and implement it in the way I design and develop my own organization. For me, strongly positioned is about looking ahead and setting the firm up to thrive in changing circumstances – even if tragic circumstances, such as the coronavirus pandemic, are impossible to predict. Flexibility is allowing us to consider these tumultuous times with a positive frame of mind for the business and our clients.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
With the success of one investment strategy, it became clear that it was becoming too popular, so I created a similar, separate strategy with a view that this would relieve pressure on the first. Unfortunately, whilst the second strategy was successful in its own right, it failed to resolve the problem of excess size for the first strategy. Looking ahead with my own firm, even though this problem may not reoccur for many years, we are designing our strategy range now with the solution embedded from day one.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
In a world where we want to deliver great outcomes for our clients, we are strongly of the view that constraints introduced on the premise that they help the client actually stand the risk of hindering the client in the long term, so we strive to avoid them.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Without a doubt, it is designing our website on WordPress. As a complete novice, I was able to create a site I could not have imagined would be possible for less than $10,000. Aside from ease-of-use tools, I have to commend a chat help assistant who blew me away with incisive solutions, which meant that all the niggles at the end of the build were resolved in the blink of an eye. It was by far the best assistance I’ve received anywhere.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
There’s no getting away from good old Excel. In this world of technology, I often see people straining to use all manner of tech, trying to do things efficiently. Sometimes, the old ways are the best, with the same task done and dusted with a bit of manual fiddling in a spreadsheet whilst the tech enthusiast is still twiddling with settings.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“The Silk Roads” by Peter Frankopan. In an engaging read, this book covers millennia of human interaction and is an excellent challenge to the Western-centric biased thinking about the current “great civilizations.”
What is your favorite quote?
“Small is Beautiful” because bigger is not always better.
- Every world-changing idea around us today started small.
- There is no great mystery to being productive; bring passion to your project, understand how things work, and remember that, sometimes, the old ways are the quick ways.
- Keep your thinking fresh; look forward and ensure that you adapt quickly to new information by challenging your own assumptions regularly.
- Many great firms and even civilizations have failed by becoming set in their ways. Passionate entrepreneurial spirit going after better ways of doing things is the lifeblood of society.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.