Q&A: John Tuohy, CEO of Acuvest Ltd.

May 23, 2022
Q&A: John Tuohy, CEO of Acuvest Ltd.
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With over 30 years of experience working in the financial services industry in Ireland and America, John Tuohy is a leading expert in company pension plans and independent investment advice.

His early career was with Irish Life in Dublin and America where he held several senior financial management and M&A positions. In 2003, John put his experience into a leadership role as a founding director of Acuvest. Since then, Acuvest has grown into a successful advisory business with a strong reputation in the corporate marketplace and in providing individual advice.


John is a Fellow of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants and a Chartered Financial Analyst.


Can you give us a brief history of Acuvest?

We are an Irish owned, investment advisory firm specialising in wealth management and pensions. We have two parts to our business and advise on over €4.5bn of assets. The core of our institutional business is helping pension scheme trustees oversee the investment funds that their members invest in. Our private client business works with business owners, executives and professionals who want advice on managing funds built up in their pension, business and general savings. We have offices in Dublin, Portlaoise and Cavan.


What are the challenges that you face in your business and how do you work to overcome them?

Many of our challenges are not unique to our business. Two that come to mind are:

  • A general shortage of skilled advisors; and

  • The challenge of maintaining and developing the firm’s culture in a remote environment.


To help overcome these we have embraced remote working and are in the process of reimagining our internal work and people management processes to allow us to work and grow effectively as a remote first company, which means that employees can work from anywhere. The increased flexibility also gives us a point of differentiation for attracting and retaining talent.


In terms of our how we can help our clients, the most frequent questions we are currently getting from them are (1) how to protect the purchasing power of their wealth in a high inflation environment; and (2) how, in a world that is increasingly interested in the environment, social and governance issues, they can use their investments to “do good”. While neither of these questions have easy answers, they are addressed as part of the ongoing detailed analysis work of our investment committee, and the investment planning process we go through with clients.


Can you tell us a bit about current and upcoming trends in the wealth management & investment advisory industry?


There has been a lot of consolidation in the industry leaving fewer truly independent investment advisor firms of scale. The drivers of that trend include (1) financial services companies wanting to build their wealth management businesses and (2) increasing regulation.


At the same time the need for quality independent investment advice is growing because of several other trends:

  • A growing number of successful Irish businesses, generating wealth for themselves and their key people.

  • An increasing population of professionals in tech, pharma and professional service firms who are doing very well financially and want help managing their money and increasing diversification within their investments.

  • The increasing complexity of investment markets and the problem differentiating between the huge array of products being pitched at people.

  • The shift over the past twenty years away from defined benefit pensions towards defined contribution pensions where the responsibility is on the individual to manage their own pension savings in preparation for, and in, retirement.


What has been your greatest achievement and biggest risk?

The greatest achievement is, along with my colleagues, establishing Acuvest as a quality niche company with a strong reputation in a very competitive investment advice market. When we started, most people felt a small Irish company could not compete effectively against much bigger international firms.


Like most entrepreneurs will tell you, the biggest risk is that decision to start a business. It involves leaving a secure, somewhat known future and pursuing an idea without any clear evidence at the time that it will work.


What drives you as a business?

We are passionate about helping people get the most out of life. Our view is that money has limited value in its own right. We help people to focus on and understand what money can enable in terms of experience for themselves and their families. Our clients tend to share our philosophy that what is important in life is family, friends, health and a sense of purpose in what we do.

They understand money needs to be managed and the choice is to do it themselves or have someone help them. Our clients choose us as a partner because they recognise our expertise in managing investments, and either don’t have the time, expertise or the interest to do it themselves.


What made you decide to become a member of Guaranteed Irish?

We are at a point in our business evolution where we want to increase awareness of who we are and what we do. The fact we are an Irish business is something we are very proud of and we wanted to highlight that. The other aspect of Guaranteed Irish that resonated with us was the emphasis on community involvement.


Being a remote first business means creating opportunities for our people to live and work within their communities. So, there is good alignment with the purpose of Guaranteed Irish.


We are excited to be onboard and look forward to contributing towards and benefiting from involvement with the brand and the Guaranteed Irish community.


What’s next for Acuvest?

Right now we are extremely busy helping our clients chart a course through choppy investment markets. Concerns about the Ukraine war, rising inflation, and slowing growth are a source of worry for people, while falling markets are also an opportunity for people with cash to invest.

For us the next step is spreading the word about what we do and how we do it so we can help more people get the most out of their lives.


Learn more: www.acuvest.ie