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Julie Hedge

Christie Scott’s director set up her business 10 years ago and has thrived by focusing on investment and building relationships with clients who get individual attention for their portfolios. Interview by Helen Pow

Julie Hedge has come along way from being a shop assistant at Burberry but she is still a self-confessed shoe addict. After her start in the retail business, she embarked on a financial career.

Christie Scott’s, Julie’s financial management company named after her step-daughter Christie and her home country of Scotland, was founded 10 years ago and has grown from a one-woman operation to become a successful company with eight consultants and over 200 customers.

Christie Scott’s offers advice on many products but focuses on investments and believes that developing a good relationship with each client is of vital importance.

Hedge says: “We offer a very personal service to quite high-net-worth individuals who have complicated financial needs. I only have about 30 clients that I deal with so we manage those portfolios really closely and work on a day-to-day basis with the clients.”

After studying for a Master of Arts degree in English literature and language at the University of Glasgow, Hedge moved to Tunbridge Wells to take up a post at the National Provident Institution, primarily because the name of the town intrigued her.

After five years at NPI, she moved to London to work as a financial adviser but soon decided she wanted to be her own boss. She tried the Advanced Financial Planning Certificate but found it tedious so switched to a post-graduate law diploma at London Guildhall University. “I decided to do a law course instead of doing my AFPC exams because I did the first exam and thought it was tremendously boring.”

Hedge, who did her dissertation on pension planning for people getting divorced, gets a lot of her business from solicitors because of her legal background. She still concentrates on helping divorcing couples sort out their finances as well as inheritance tax planning and advising trustees on appropriate investments.

“I have grown my own business from nothing. I did not have any clients and did not have any contacts so there is a sense of success and personal achievement to be 10 years down the line and have a good client base and other consultants working with me.”

One of the things that she likes about being a financial adviser is the fact she can cheer on her two sons at sporting events and take them on holidays. “I can work when I want and not work when I do not want to. I have the flexibility to do as I please. If there is a sports carnival or a rugby match, I can always be there where as if I worked for someone else or in a different industry, I would not have that flexibility.”

She says paperwork is a pitfall of the job but inefficient insurance companies are the bane of her existence. “The problem is that we are a very small company and we deal with very large companies so it is easy for us to know our clients’ names, know their kids’ names and know what team they support but we deal with insurance companies where you are lucky if they know your national insurance number.”

Development in the use of software and online transactions are two positive factors that Hedge believes are improving financial services. She says being able to use platforms in asset allocation to match a client’s risk preference to appropriate funds is a big leap forward that is making life easier for IFAs”There is always something new coming around that you can learn about and speak o your clients about. It is becoming more complicated but I think that is a good thing because your job then becomes more important to your client and gives you an opportunity to keep building relationships rather than just selling a life insurance contract and walking away.

“I do not want my firm to grow any bigger than it is now. I am looking to provide a better service to a smaller number of clients rather than getting lots of advisers and lots of clients. I will just develop it as the years go on really and try to give a better service to the clients we already have.”

Born: Falkirk, Scotland in 1970 although my family now live on Islay which is in the Hebrides off the west coast of Scotland, where they make whisky

Lives: Nutfield, Surrey, with husband Paul (also an IFA), two sons (James, 9, and Matthew, 4) and sometimes step-daughter Christie who is 15.

Education: Master of Arts degree in English Literature and Language from University of Glasgow. Post-graduate diploma in law from London Guildhall

Career: At university, worked for Next and Burberry as a shop girl. Went to NPI as a graduate trainee and ended up as personal financial advice manager looking after a small team of advisers. Worked briefly for a firm of financial advisers in London. I set up on my own and 10 years later I am still solvent.

Likes: Being a country girl, fresh air and beaches, preferably accompanied by my kids. I have an unhealthy attachment to new shoes. Handbags are also a worry. I love rugby and support London Wasps and Scotland although I support England when they are not playing Scotland.

Dislikes: I have a fear of rats, I can’t see the point of cricket and loathe people who park in disabled spaces or child spaces.

Drives: I have a blue Mercedes CLK for days that don’t involve children and muddy sports kit and a black B class Mercedes for days that do.

Favourite film: The Sound of Music. I like a bit of a singalong.

Favourite book: The Chronicles of Narnia. I’m reading them for the second time around with my son and love them as much as I did as a child.

Favourite band: As a teenager, I wanted to marry the bass player from Frankie Goes to Hollywood but at the moment I am listening to Snow Patrol and The Feeling.

Heroes: My dad, who taught me that hard work is the only way to get what you want. Margaret Thatcher, for her communication skills and intellect.

Career ambition: On a day to day basis, I want to continue developing my network of professional introducers and help my consultants to do the same. I would like to be known for being an expert in my field and for making a difference to the financial position of clients.

If I weren’t an IFA, I would be: Working in a designer shoe shop (think of the discount). I wouldn’t mind trying the life of a “lady wot lunches”, but I’m sure I couldn’t handle it for long…

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