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Correspondent&#39s week

It is not every week you launch a new life company and anyone who thinks it is easy should see the blood, sweat and tears (almost) shed by the Selestia team.

This week is a big one for us as we are indeed launching our life company and it has been a long and arduous process. So the week ahead promises a mixture of excitement tinged with worry that everything will fit together on the day.

Children, of course, are oblivious to all this and Monday starts like most mor-nings as our five-year-old crashes into our room at 6am. With five children, there is no need for alarm clocks in the Williams family.

Leaving Harri to organise breakfast and school runs, I escape to drive to the office in St Albans.

At 8am, people are already in and many have been working all weekend getting systems, marketing and testing in shape.

There is a huge amount to do and some tension around but we learned a lot of lessons launching the investment business in November and we are in good shape.

Still, it is going to go to the wire to be ready to accept business a week today and we also need to satisfy the FSA that everything is in place in the meantime.

Within a frantic day, I spend an hour with Trevor Pullen, one of our non-executives. I go through my presentation of “What we want to be” at Selestia.

Trevor picks up strongly on the customer focus point and questions me hard on whether the whole business fully understands what that means.

The day is peppered with regular updates from action man operations director John Tomlins and tenser than usual finance director Mark Will-iams, who is struggling manfully to make sure all the necessary contracts are in place and keep smiling.

A quick beer on the way home with IFA friend Kevin Luckhurst restores some balance before arriving home to the usual bedlam.

Tom has sensibly evacuated to his room to study for his GCSEs. How old does that make me feel?

Tuesday, as always, is manic. All the executive team is in plus a first review of our fledgling European project followed by a final launch steering committee meeting.

Then I rush up to the City to see a South African journalist doing a whirlwind tour of all Old Mutual&#39s businesses. She seems quite impressed with what we are doing but as always the test is what she writes.

On to the OMFS executive meeting followed by early dinner with IFAs to talk about our launch.

Wednesday is a London day starting with an 8am update meeting with Group CEO Jim Sutcliffe over breakfast at the Ritz.

Mark Williams tells me I am not allowed to pay – fortunately Jim does so but amusingly nearly forgets.

Then on to discuss strategy with Ed Warner, CEO of OMFS, before a series of meetings with journalists set up by press veteran marketing director Bill Vasilieff.

Fortunately, I am accompanied by Helen Keating, our PR person, who gives strict instructions on what I must remember to say.

Wednesday finishes with the Fund Strategy Awards dinner at which I will present an award. Bill wishes me luck with my speech which, of course, I don&#39t have to make but the evening is a success with really encouraging dialogue with IFAs about our proposition.

Thursday brings more press briefings and a good meeting with non-exec Geoff Keeys and finishes with a glass of wine with Paul Bradshaw who is supportive and encouraging of what we are doing.

In the meantime, things are still tight on testing. Sales director Dave Hazelton is pushing hard to ensure we can do business by Monday.

By the time I arrive home at 8pm, all is relatively calm and my appearance is greeted with some surprise and not much interest as they get stuck into Friends and ER.

Friday is a very focused day although activity on the web is frantic and the testing goes on relentlessly.

However, the good news is that we will definitely be in a position to illustrate and do business on Monday. Relief has replaced excitement and there are a lot of tired people who have done a great job.

I leave at 5pm to take my mother to My Fair Lady for her birthday with my eldest daughter Victoria. Against all my expectations, I thoroughly enjoy it.

The end of a long but successful week and now all we have to do is make the business work so next week the fun really starts.

Brett Williams is managing director of Selestia

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