1.What motivated you to become Head of Risk Management?
I have been in the industry since 1996(!) after my A Levels. I had worked for another regional IFA for a number of years and wanted a new challenge. In 2008 the Regulatory Distribution Review (RDR) had been timetabled by the regulator but very few firms understood the legislation or were ready for it but LIFT (Chartwell at the time) were prepared. I was also impressed by the foresight and enthusiasm of Mike and Joel and felt that the firm would “go places”. We have grown from 8 staff when I started to 80 in 11 years and it has been an exciting journey.
2. Personal highlight of your career at LIFT?
Being part of the team when LIFT was one of the earliest achievers of the PFS Corporate Chartered Status, winning the Money Marketing Paraplanner of the Year award in 2014 was also a fantastic experience. To be assessed as the best candidate against some tough opposition was a really proud moment. One of the reasons I won was because I spoke about regulation and ethics as well as technical issues, which then led to me heading up the Compliance function within LIFT full time. Also I’m really proud to have acheieved my 11th anniversary within the team in August!
3. What are your areas of specialism?
I have the overall day to day responsibility for Compliance at LIFT but in particular my focus is preparing the business for ever changing regulatory requirements and trying to pre-empt issues before they arise.
4. What advice would you give to anyone who is just starting their career in financial services?
I am not sure that anybody spends their childhood wanting to be a financial planner(!); it seems to be something that people “fall” into. For people joining the industry now, I would urge them not to forget that the client interests have to be at the centre of the process and if you find yourself working for a firm where that isn’t the case, you’re probably in the wrong place.
5. Are there any other qualifications you are striving towards and/or do you have any other personal development goals?
There is no “need” for me to take any more exams and I am more qualified than many compliance professionals within the industry, however in line with LIFT’s Chartered status and the number of Fellows of the PFS within the team, becoming Chartered is certainly something I will work towards.
6. What has been your biggest lesson over the past 11 years here at LIFT?
Teamwork is everything!
7. What do you believe must be done to increase awareness on the benefits of good financial planning?
Education, starting at grass roots level within primary and secondary schools so that school leavers understand the basic principles of money, such as budgeting.
8. Changes you want to see in the industry over the future?
I would like to see the reputation of the financial services industry change. It is still tainted by the “cowboy” reputation of people who sold the general public products they neither needed or wanted – but then couldn’t cancel without losing large sums of money. Things are changing and LIFT are at the cutting edge with 100% of time spent being logged and converted to fees; in addition to charging for a service rather than simply flogging a product.
9. What drives you in life?
Being happy at work and at home.
10. Stuck in a LIFT, which colleague would you choose to help you out?
I would say Dan Cockayne, one of our Chartered Financial Planners. He’s very practical, but I suspect he would rather leave me stuck as his work life would be much quieter without me!