The bank case

Turning a dysfunctional investment committee (IC) into a high performance team that produces original, evidence-based investment decisions.


The bank CEO and COO mandated us to turn the IC into a quality decision making platform for the bank, where IC members are incentivized and motivated to share their best understanding of capital markets. The bank as a whole should benefit from that through better investment decisions and as a derivative, a better narrative through which their comparative advantage is easier to communicate.


Moderator = defensive role

Real-time submission of documents

No documentation of debate or takeaways

Respectful tone, but rare notion of momentum in debate

Risk manager without function

Scoring model with marginal relevance

Lack of critical and creative thinking – exchange of opinions instead of evidence

Like an old couple that has exchanged the same arguments for too often

IC was performed like shadow boxing during an obligatory act

No interest in showing your best arguments as IC was considered irrelevant


No exchange of IC members

No change of rhythm

No change of monetary incentive system

Simple rules explained

A short list of mutually agreed rules tailored to the person or organization using them, applied to well-defined activities, and open to giving people latitude to exercise discretion.


Nudging and Heuristics Management has been applied through the Simple Rules approach to introduce generally accepted guidance in a participative way.


  • Maximising cognitive diversity
  • Advocatus Diavoli between Equity and Fixed Income
  • Documentation & Preparation
  • Rescheduling PreC

Empowerment (INDIVIUAL)

  • Focus on evidence-based reasoning
  • Risk Manager as challenger stone for technical and methodological issues
  • Visualization of provided content and conclusions
  • Moderator as facilitator


IC members now consider the monthly IC an inspirational exchange of thoughts for their own areas of responsibility

IC members are intrinsically motivated to prepare for the IC and to share their best evidence during the IC

As evidence is critically appraised, IC decisions are more rationally taken

The choice architecture provides a framework that enables IC members to improve over time


The private foundation case

Plausibility checks for investments and stakeholders


The principal and the IC chairman mandated us to introduce accountability and critical thinking to the IC investment due diligence and monitoring activities.


IC members are friends and business partners of the principal (lawyer, tax advisor and banker). No capital markets specialist

The foundation portfolio was full of products the bank either managed itself or represented (expensive me-too financial instruments)

Lack of incentive for IC members to diligently monitor the portfolio, defensive interpretation of mandate to minimize legal liabilities while staying formally compliant.

Lacking definition of investment objective and strategy (in foundation certificate and amendments)

Formal compliance was performed for the regulator, not to hold IC members accountable

IC monitoring activities were pro-forma acts.
No reflection. No critical thinking.


IC members cannot be replaced

IC quarterly meetings should remain

As the AuM is in double-digits, additional running costs should be avoided

Mental immune system explained

It protects us from too fast, unintended change.
Source for our immunity to change as individual, leading to organisational resistance to change.


  • Mental immune system diagnose of IC members and principal
  • Analysis of conflicts of interest of IC members
  • Analysis of IC incentive system
  • Introduction to best practices in foundation investment management
  • Interactive definition of investment objective, hypotheses and principles
  • Interactive definition of most common situations in the foundation (manager monitoring, service partner due diligence, etc.)
  • Iterative work on Simple Rules for most common situations
  • Implementation of PS Tree tool (light version) to discipline decision making and increase accountability
  • IC member incentive logic was gamified
  • Practice under PS guidance to establish routines as agreed


Easier for principal to evaluate quality of IC decisions

Parts of the asset management has been delegated to external wealth management provider with clear instructions, easy to monitor

Objectives are reached more consciously. License fee for PS Tree is overcompensated by reaching objectives.

Lively debates between IC members during quarterly meetings

More progressive interpretation of Business Judgement Rule. Thus principal and agents are in better sync.


The fund manager case

Increasing scalability of investment process


Specialized FI fund manager wants to scale its business to attract more AuM from more institutional-types of investors.


Small team of a successful fixed income manager with triple-digit AuM with a 10y track record

The founder (= CEO and CIO) was intuitively investing,
auto-didactically trained.

The team was brought on board to support with operations, but not to replace or complement the founder

One team member was capable and willing to take on more portfolio management responsibility

The fund management company has a good reputation
in its home market

Founder was unwilling to accept the entrepreneurial responsibility to also manage people as part of his job profile

A classic situation from start-up leadership style to a more
institutionalized form

No process was described. Learning and accountability were not consciously performed. Comparative advantage was not defined.


Asset management license was sub-rented, limiting intervention options

Conflict between founder and #2 over compensation matters

Apart from Bloomberg Terminals, IT infrastructure was improvised

PS tools explained

PS Playbook = documents all progress worked on with a client
PS Matrix = visualizes risk factors for easier periodic review
PS Triggers = all KPIs/KRIs chosen plus action points
PS Dashboard = activated triggers, demanding action


Externalization of existing belief system, while complementing it with added—value heuristics and
decision support systems in the areas of:

  • Defining and revising the investment strategy
  • Defining and revising the investment and risk management process
  • Defining and revising the internal investment process responsibilities and communication
  • Defining advocatus diaboli roles in team
  • Defining the fund managers´ comparative advantage
  • Incentive system

Revising the compensation logic and system

Positioning of three fund products based on above incl. term sheet modification

Creation of target-group based communication channels and material (new pitchbook, factsheet, Mailing list templates)

Implementation of PS Playbook, Matrix, Triggers and Dashboard


FI fund manager increased team with complementary skill sets based on needs defined during intervention

PS Playbook, Matrix and Triggers were implemented, permanently supporting the decision makers in an accurate and disciplined of agreed principles and rules

FI manager immediately increased conversion rate in business development due to a better understanding and wording of their own comparative advantage

FI manager merged with another manager to reach growth targets faster, based on gap analysis performed during intervention