Ann-Marie Martyn's decision in April 2000 to leave IFA Promotion to set up her own company, My Money Adviser, saw her career take yet another interesting turn on a varied road.
Martyn's position as managing director with My Money Adviser is a far cry from the start of her career as a receptionist with a Japanese bank in the City of London in the early 1980s.
My Money Adviser, which Martyn is keen to point out is a technology house and not a dotcom, received £2m in funding in April. This enabled Martyn and her co-directors, Mitch Philpott and Roland Rawicz-Szczerbo, to make their vision a reality.
Martyn says Philpott is the brains behind the company and My Money Adviser was his idea. “Philpott and 'Roland from Poland' – although he is as much of a cockney as I am – initially established Quay Software before getting me involved and setting up My Money Adviser. I was app ointed as director with responsibility for marketing.”
My Money Adviser is launching its products in January, selling web solutions to IFAs. It will also offer one non-profit-making service to IFAs – an online directory for consumers to access. IFAs are invited to register on this free of charge to publicise their services to consumers who are increasingly using the internet to shop around for the best deal in personal finance services.
Martyn is obviously plea sed that, despite no advertising being done yet to promote the directory service, it has received 500 IFA registrations in the last two weeks, mainly in response to a mailer issued as part of its pre-launch marketing strategy.
There will also be a push in the personal finance trade press and Martyn says My Money Adviser will be offering free workshops around the UK to publicise what the company is doing.
Martyn enthuses that the My Money Adviser team is made up of financial and technical experts. She says Rawicz-Szczerbo won Money Marketing IFA of the year for two consecutive years, while product director Rob Wey mess is ex-Axa Sun Life. The company currently has 13 full-time staff and a further five are on secondment.
From January until April, My Money Adviser will be promoted through online marketing and talking to the trade press. A full-scale advertising campaign will not start until after April when IFAs will have more time to be receptive to new ideas rather than focus on getting to the end of the tax year.
Martyn believes technology is the big issue for IFAs over the coming year. She says: “Technology is more of an issue than regulation or compliance for IFAs. And compliance is ongoing and can be dealt with.
“There are several new players in the market, such as Virgin Money, that IFAs have to both work with and compete against. Although they can't replicate the loyalty factor of IFAs, IFAs must be able to make the best use of technology rather than rest on their laurels.
“With financial products consumers perceive as simple it makes sense for IFAs to let consumers find out more and buy online. IFAs cannot afford to offer face-to-face advice on a 1 per cent product. The thing to remember is that technology is vital in a 1 per cent world.”
The most memorable event for Martyn in 2000 was leaving IFAP. In the IFA market in general, she says the big issue was polarisation.
She says: “I left IFAP because I wanted to do more than marketing for the IFA community. I had been trying to encourage IFAP to become more commercial but that was proving unlikely to happen.”
Looking to the future of IFAP, Martyn says the merger with Aifa is an item on the agenda but she queries how sensible it would be.
Martyn was with IFAP for six years. She says: “I joined as manager and deputy to the then chief executive Joanne Hindle because I wanted to know more about marketing since I already knew a lot about sales.”
Martyn was first promoted to chief executive of IFAP and then became the first chief executive to be appointed managing director. She held the position of managing director for about 18 months before leaving for My Money Adviser.
Looking back to the start of her career, Martyn says: “From starting as a receptionist with a Japanese bank I somehow wangled my way to becoming a trader's assistant with Drexel Burnham and was quickly promoted to an equity trader for the US market after six months.”
From there, Martyn moved to Gartmore and traded equity for three years and ended up selling offshore funds as an international sales executive.
Martyn then quit her car eer in the City for a year to have her daughter.
Following this, she was offered a job in broker sales and support at Investec Guin ness Flight by Bill Delucy.
Martyn has made a point of challenging herself and learning new skills throughout her career. For the time being, she wants to concentrate on making My Money Adviser a success and is planning to float the company within two years.
But her key aim is characteristically IFA focused – to develop better technical solutions for the IFA market.