Several years ago at a Singer & Friedlander christmas party, a six year old girl wandered away and found a large leather desk chair and, like all children would do, started spinning around in the chair. When father, an executive within the firm’s corporate finance division, found her she was scolded and told to get out of the chair.
The chair belonged to Singer & Friedlander senior executive Michael Stoddart and that little girl grew up to be Close Brothers Asset Management head of client services Penny Lovell. And her father? Industry stalwart Stanley Lovell, who only recently retired at the age of 82.
Penny says: “I was swirling around and around on that chair and I remember thinking that one day I would work in an office like this. And ironically, when I joined Fleming Family and Partners many years later, one of the senior advisers there was the owner of the chair – Michael Stoddart!”
Penny and her father are one of those rare examples of father and daughter both being trained IFAs. In a career that spanned several decades, Stanley started out at Barclays and also served in the Army. After spending some time in the textiles industry and then as a business consultant, Stanley then started work at Singer & Friedlander before becoming involved in several Ifa networks over the years. These included the Kestrel Network and the M&E Network before retiring – for the first time.
“I retired in 2000. Then a colleague called me up and asked if I would like to return and help develop a new network?” explains Stanley. “It was a very easy decision to come back as I had become bored with tears when I retired.”
That network was the On-Line Partnership which Stanley helped grow. The network was acquired by Russell Investments late last year and Stanley retired for the second and final time at the end of 2013.
Penny’s career has been no less impressive and has included spells at Friends Provident, Coutts Financial and Fleming Family & Partner. Penny then joined Close Brothers Asset Management in 2012.
Stanley’s career has a great influence on Penny’s, who from an early age became fascinated with finances and the City.
“I think my father did have an influence but my mother was also influential”, explains Penny. “I grew up with a very strong mother who loved the stock market and loved the City to the extent of which that as a little girl I would often be taken around the City and the stock exchange. So from an early age I was taught about the City and investments so it was ingrained in me.”
However, Stanley says he found he did not need to give his daughter any direct encouragement or advice.
Stanley says: “I did not have to give Penny any advice in particular, she has always had a mind of her own and has always been very self driven.”
Over the course of his long career, Stanley says regulation has been the biggest factor in shaping the industry.
“Regulation has turned the industry upside down,” says Stanley emphatically. “When I started work in the 70s, it was like being on another planet compared to today. And in many ways today’s regulatory environment is a lot better. However, sometimes I do question whether or not the man in the street is actually better off as a result of these regulations. So the onus is on compliance to ensure advisers are giving the advice they should be giving.”
This added regulatory pressure has had its most obvious impact on the way that financial advisers interact with their clients, in particular less wealthy clients, and father and daughter say this is a concern for the industry.
“We are in the situation where some clients will have become disenfranchised particularly around the subject of fees. I think certainly there are a lot of people out there who would be nervous about paying fees,” admits Penny. “And meanwhile, the time constraints are the same. I keep hearing people say ‘oh I really should get my pension sorted’ but they have so much information to face and choose from. But you have to bite the bullet at some stage.”
Stanley adds: “There is a big difference between clients today and clients back in the 70s and 80s. They are faced with a lot more information now from the media and the internet. The RDR has brought clients and advisers closer together to have conversations that they would not have had years ago.”
The profession may one day also being seeing a third generation of Lovell financial adviser, with Penny’s 11 year old daughter Izzy already taking it upon herself to understand money and the role of financial advice.
“My daughter is increasingly interested in what I do and what her grandfather did,” says Penny. “And just the other day she had made a complete breakdown of costs for buying a house and was firing off questions to me and my father.”
Born: Northampton, 1931
Education: Northampton Grammar School, Cranfield Business School
Drives: Mercedes CSL 320
Book: Jesus by Pope Benedict XVI
Film: Gone With The wind
Lives: Clapham, London
Education: Regent College, Leicester and Manchester University
Career: 2012-present: head of private client services, Close Brothers Asset Management; 2001-2009: director, Fleming Family and Partners; 1995-2001: Coutts; 1991-1995: broker consultant, Friends Provident,
Likes: The next challenge
Drives: Volkswagen Beetle
Book: To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee
Music: Stone Roses
Film: Withnail & I
Career ambition: To help wealth management become more accessible to stay relevant in the modern world.
Life ambition: Happy children, a rewarding career where I never stop learning, to give back more than I take out.
If I wasn’t doing this, I would be……How could I change? I love what I do and it’s in my DNA