Education: Craig Mount High School, Edinburgh
Career: 2003-present,The Turris Partnership managing director; 1997-2003 Inter-Alliance divisional director; 1994-97 Minet Consultancy Services joint managing director; 1989-1994 Allied Provincial Securities director; 1985-89 William M Mercer consultant; 1983-85 Standard Life; 1980-83 Guardian Royal Exchange
Likes: Sports – “generally watching rather than playing these days” – and straight-talking
Life ambition:A happy, healthy family
Career ambition: Appropriate recognition of professional advisers and planners
Heroes: Blues guitarist Rory Gallagher and Richard Branson
Peers say: “He will make an invaluable contribution to the PFS’s development”
Car: Mercedes CLK230
Amalgamating Sofa and the LIA has not been an easy manoeuvre but Brian Steeples thinks he is the man who can lead the new organisation forward.
As the first president of the Personal Finance Society, he will clearly have his work cut out but he seems to like a challenge.
Steeples says he has always been interested in numbers and even while at school was considering a career in finance. Both banking and insurance were perceived by his schoolfriends as areas in which the UK was successful and he decided that he wanted to be part of that success.
But after leaving school, he worked for a couple of years at the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary as a laboratory technician, following a similar route to his sister. However, he realised that medical science was not the career for him and moved to Guardian Royal Exchange. The next three years brought a number of promotions before he moved to Standard Life.
Steeples’ interest in professional development began early on and he intends to shape the Personal Finance Society in a way that makes the profession particularly attractive to new recruits.
He thinks people coming into the industry are looking for the same thing he was when he started out – a clear indication of career progression and prospects. “I think one of the things that might attract younger people into the sector would be a clear career path up to a recognised level.”
As a former Sofa chairman, Steeples is well versed in the problems of running a big adviser organisation but he adds that his new role at the PFS is very well supported by a big team of people, with many working behind the scenes. “This time round, I would say there is very much more support. It is very clear from the board that the PFS is not going to be a reincarnation of the various bits of the LIA and Sofa. It is a new organisation and it is our aim that everyone should feel part of it. I think for a long time there were two separate voices for the industry and there was no clear message for the whole of the marketplace.”
He has clear targets for the PFS over the next year and says his main aim will be to ensure that existing members are comfortable with the change and he is keen to ensure that they have confidence in the new organisation.
There are eight member directors from the past bopards of the LIA and Sofa, including Steeples, and a further six executives on the new board.
In his spare time. Steeples plays guitar as part of a duo called Reflector which has recently released a record, a whole album no less. He says his influences are along the lines of The Who, Led Zeppelin and Deep Purple, with a bit of The Eagles.
Steeples and fellow musician Ken Morton wrote, produced and recorded the entire album themselves and all money from sales will be donated to the Teenage Cancer Trust following the death of a colleague’s son.
Steeples, 44, has two children, aged 12 and six. He was born in Edinburgh and has settled in Glasgow where he runs his own IFA firm. He intends to carry on as managing director of The Turris Partnership, which will keep him firmly in touch with the issues facing IFAs.
This month, all LIA and Sofa members will transfer to the PFS to create a combined membership totalling 25,000. A new website will be launched along with a magazine followed by a recruitment campaign and new member benefits.
The third stage of the project will be raising the organisation’s profile among consumers but this is not pencilled in until the third quarter of this year.
Criticism which has been levelled at trade bodies in the past has centred on slowness to react to big issues. For example, while the LIA and Sofa were counting votes to decide whether the merger went ahead last year, pensions were hitting the headlines of national newspapers on the back of the Turner report.
When asked whether trade bodies have missed golden opportunities to promote pension advice, Steeples says there is clearly a growing need for specialist advice and the PFS intends to get out to the public and tell them about the number of qualified advisers at their disposal.
He is positive about the next 12 months for IFAs. “I think for a well run IFA business the outlook is really good for the next year. There are more people looking for financial advice and there are even more opportunities to provide it.”
Personal Finance Society colleague Bob Bullivant describes Steeples as a creative and innovative thinker. He will no doubt need those qualities to shape the organisation in its inaugural year.