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Hilary Austin

What do you get if you cross a compliance director, a Yorkshire woman and

a rebel with a cause?

Answer – a yellow Audi-driving, eight-month preg-nant managing director

ofa start-up IFA support services company.

Cutting loose and compliance are strange bedfellows but they seem to

co-exist perfectly well in Hilary Austin.

The head of a new Bankhall-funded IFA support services firm set to launch

in September is not known to take things lying down.

Now 34, Austin recounts how when at sixth form college she felt her path

was being blocked by bureaucracy.

She says: “I walked out on the Friday and into a job with Barclays Trust

on the Monday. I don&#39t like hanging about.”

But Austin had hankered after a life at the Bar but her feisty personality

prevented her dream becoming a reality.

“I always wanted to become a barrister but I realised early on that I am

too rebellious.” Why then the move to compliance? “Compliance holds the

same attraction for me as law. It is nice to be a in a position to help and

guide people. I don&#39t like things that aren&#39t fair and reasonable.”

Austin describes herself as highly principled and has very clear ideas of

what is appropriate and what is not in her line of work. “You need to be

transparent with people, both on a social level and in the workplace. But

sometimesI cut off my nose to spite my face because of my principles

although I believe there are times when you have to.”

The former M&E compliance director says she is a product of her Yorkshire

roots and has the personality to match. She describes Yorkshire people as

very straight, very blunt and very hard working. “I am a Yorkshire girl

through and through.”

She has worked for three companies in her career – Barclays Trust, Eagle

Starand M&E.

She left IFA network M&E at the time of its £17m management buyout

from underwriters Greatminster Group. During her eight years with the

network she was highly regarded and popular with colleagues.

She is not, however, out to win any popularity contests and has strong

views on where she wants to take this new company.

“I want to build it fairly quickly. I have already been through the

growing pains of a company during my time at M&E. With this venture, I want

to be able to control the growth so we can maintain a good quality service


Bankhall called Austin just a few weeks after she left M&E in early May

with a proposal to join them. But she says she needed a “bit of a breather”

before having her baby.

The new business, due to launch in September, will draw on her compliance

and T&C background. She says she is delighted that from the outset she will

be able to plug straight into Bankhall&#39s compliance department. She will,

however, be recruiting from across the industry as well. “Naturally, I have

my eye on candidates who I feel will fitin and would be good for the


Bankhall will fund the new company – as yet without a name – which will

provide support services for IFAs, from training and competence, compliance

to due diligence.

Altrincham-based Bankhall will have a majority shareholding in Austin&#39s

venture along similar lines to deals already completed with Portfolio

Member Services, formerly IFA Portfolio.

Austin has managed to retain her sense of humour at a testing time in the

midst of launching a firm, decorating a house and being only a month away

from having her first child.

It was her Yorkshire ties that brought her back to the small market town

outside York following stints in Cambridge and London. She is adamant she

has no need to move and will continue to be based there once the venture is

running in September.

She says she will be wetting her new baby&#39s head with a bottle of

Bollinger. While she admits to being a little daunted by the prospect of

the impending birth, she bounces back with a quip.

“I have already asked the midwife to hand the baby straight to me so I can

slap it to clear its lungs. It&#39s not that I don&#39t trust the midwife, I just

want to get my own back for all the times it has kicked me while in the


“IFAs I can cope with day in day out but the prospect of a child is

something altogether different.”


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