Just four months after staring down one of the sharpest falls in sharemarket history, you would expect most fund management bosses to be feeling a little on edge.
But Mark Ryland, the low-profile Brit who heads Milford Asset Management, is cool and calm.
Ryland, who became chief executive in February last year, oversees about $9.3 billion invested on behalf of mainly retail investors, including $2.2b in its KiwiSaver scheme.
When sharemarkets fell more than 30 per cent in a matter of weeks in March as the coronavirus pandemic hit, Ryland says Milford saw an immediate reaction from its clients.
"I would say that calls, emails, doubled, tripled. People were concerned about their investments - they were seeing it go down and were worried it would continue to go down.
"They wanted to know - what are you doing to stop the losses?"
Ryland says from the company's side it was a matter of giving people information and providing education, as well as urging them to take advice.
That didn't stop clients from pulling their money out, with some withdrawing "significant amounts".
Ryland says it was mainly recent investors who pulled the plug.
"Milford had had a very strong year of inflow - people that would normally invest in term deposits with low interest rates were having to look to invest in the market for higher returns.
"I guess if you have only been investing for two, three, six months, you haven't had that advantage of being in the market for longer where you are getting those 5, 6, 10 per cent returns. So as soon as you see it drop, clearly fear comes on and panic - you want to take your money back."
Those who had been with the firm for longer were much more inclined to stick it out. And now that markets have bounced back, even those who pulled out are returning.
"Even people who have crystallised losses and haven't got any of the gains are now starting to come back but with a better understanding of the market, even though they might have lost a bit of money in the process."
While it seems simple to look back and condemn those who pulled their money out, Ryland says it's easy to take that view in hindsight.
"When you are in that position and it is down 30 per cent - and it could go down another 30. I mean it is very easy to say in hindsight it has bounced back but it might not have done.
"I find with most people it is the attitude to risk that they get wrong. They have got a 10-year, 15-year time horizon but if it goes down, can they sleep at night?"
Ryland says a lot of people answer that question by choosing the way they would like to think they would behave. But when faced with reality, it's a different story.
"We want our clients to sleep at night and what that often means is you can't take the same risk.
"That means you may not get the same return long run. But it's important you look after your health and you can sleep at night."
Ryland says the market slump and bounce has been a big learning curve.
"We have had this amazing bull run and people have been investing for a long time and it's only gone one way.
"This was the first really big drop that was thrown at people. And they are just not familiar with it."
Milford was co-founded in 2003 by Brian Gaynor who is still its largest individual shareholder with nearly 22 per cent.
But the business also has buy-in from its employees, including fund managers who own stakes in the company.
Ryland joined Milford initially as a consultant in May 2014 after a stint with Macquarie Private Wealth which included time heading Brook Asset Management.
He was bought in to turn Brook around after former owners Paul Glass and Simon Botherway left and other staff followed.
Brook had seen its $1.8b in funds under management plummet to just $80 million after its wholesale investment mandates were moved elsewhere.
Ryland says he had begun turning things around and funds under management had risen to about $160m when a change of management at Macquarie saw Brook closed for good.
It was a friendship with then-Milford managing director Anthony Quirk which saw Ryland asked to consult over a change of trustee company, as well increasing the fund manager's compliance function.
Three months later, Milford received its first email from market regulator the Financial Markets Authority over alleged market manipulation.
In June 2015 the FMA reached a $1.5m settlement with Milford. Former Milford employee Mark Warminger later went on trial and was found guilty of market manipulation on two separate occasions and ordered to pay $400,000.
Ryland says the situation meant he was thrown in the deep end virtually from the start at Milford.
"It was very stressful but in some ways it gave me an opportunity to stay at Milford and make a difference in that period."
Ryland fronted alongside then-MD Quirk to the regulator.
"I remember talking to Anthony [Quirk] just as I joined and saying, well I have pretty much seen everything. Well, I hadn't."
Milford lost wholesale clients in the wake of the scandal, although it hasn't stopped the business from growing strongly in subsequent years. Back then it had about $3b in funds under management.
"I think retail clients, they like to stay with people and understand that whichever way you look at it mistakes can happen, and if you learn from it you will be stronger for it and that is very much the case for Milford."
Ryland says no matter what roles he has done over his career, there have been things that go wrong.
"It's all about how do you fix it and how do you learn from it to make a stronger business going forward."
He says investment management is a serious business which comes with a huge amount of responsibility.
"You've got to be careful how you handle issues because you want people to put their hand up.
"So from a Milford point of view it's really important we are very open, be transparent, we can fix it, we can learn from it.
"And that is huge - if you get to this culture where you are jumping too hard on things, you will have some trouble long term."
As Milford's funds under management grow closer to $10b, Ryland is also focused on ensuring it has the right investment capacity to ensure its investment funds continue to perform.
"We are constantly looking at investment capacity and making sure we feel have the ability to outperform the markets we invest in."
Milford invests a lot more into Australian equities than it has in the past, as well as global equities.
Ryland points to the change its flagship Active Growth Fund has been through over the past seven or eight years. Back then it invested 80 per cent-plus of its money in Australasian equities - the vast majority of which were NZX-listed companies.
"We could not do that today."
Now only 20 per cent or so of the fund is in New Zealand equities, with another 20 per cent in Australia.
That has meant it has been on a hiring spree in the past 18 months to build up its global investment team.
"There was period of time when there was a view you couldn't manage global equity from outside of London or New York. That myth has really been debunked."
It is also expanding in Australia, where Milford has had an office for the last six year. Its team of three has now grown to nine. Initially the team was focused on picking Australian companies to go into its New Zealand portfolios but now it has three funds specifically sold in Australia.
"We see opportunity for Milford to grow its footprint in Australia with Australian investors.
"We are also very conscious a number of NZ companies like to go into Australia but don't do it very well - we are very committed to taking it seriously."
• Job: Chief executive, Milford Asset Management
• Qualified: Trained as an accountant in the United Kingdom
• Career: Began career working for Midlands Bank. Worked for Zurich Financial Services where he helped set up UK fund manager Threadneedle. Moved to New Zealand in 2001 and initially worked for Guardian Trust before moving to ASB Group Investments as head of operations. He then headed up its investment administration platform Aegis for three years before becoming the chief operating officer at Macquarie Private Wealth in 2009. Under the Macquarie umbrella he became managing director of fund manager Brook Asset Management. He then left to begin initially consulting to Milford in May 2014 before taking on a permanent role as manager risk compliance and systems. Moved up to head of products and operations in February 2017 and became chief executive in February 2019.
• Family: Married with three children
• age: 54
• Last movie watched: The Woods by Harlan Coben
• Last book read: Tiger Woods Biography
• Last overseas holiday: Noosa, Australia in November last year