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Mark dampier

Hargreaves Lansdown head of research Mark Dampier is a self-confessed

“media tart” who loves seeing his name in the national and trade press.

But then again, anyone in his position would need to love the attention.

Why else would they put themselves forward as the mouthpiece for one of the

UK&#39s leading and often controversial IFAs?

As the public face of Hargreaves Lansdown – a firm many rival IFAs love to

hate – one thing Dampier would readily admit is that life is never dull.

The firm has taken a lot of flak from smaller IFAs over its decision in

March to rebate trail commission. They accuse the firm of trying to squeeze

them out of the market.

But Dampier defends Hargreaves Lansdown, claiming the firm is often

misunderstood and actually has the whole IFA sector&#39s interests at heart on

many occasions. He believes the criticism is often the result of jealousy

over the firm&#39s success and innovative style which has made it as near to a

household name as anyone in financial services is likely to get.

Whether you love or hate Dampier, even his worst enemy would have to admit

he has been a success in getting his name in the papers. Independent

research by media analyst Presswatch shows him as one of the most quoted

IFAs and industry figures in the national media.

But it might all have been different if a prospective father-in-law had

not told the young Dampier to “get off his backside and get a proper job”.

Prior to the ill-fated engagement which led to this comment, Dampier had

been content in carving out a niche as a ski instructor on the pistes of

Europe, having decided against a career in law.

He had studied law at Kingston Polytechnic and taken his part twos at

Guildford Law School. But he admits “the idea of spending the next 40 years

doing conveyancing did not really appeal” so it was off to the ski slopes.

But after much nagging by his former fiancee – who told him: “You will

never get a job as no one will ever give you a job on your doorstep” – he

proceeded to be offered a job on his doorstep by his mum&#39s next-door

neighbour Kean Seager, who had just set up Whitechurch Securities.

It was at Whitechurch that Dampier took his first tentative steps into

talking to the press after some prompting from Threadneedle communications

director Dick Eats. He has not looked back.

He left Whitechurch in 1995, citing the problem of not having any equity

in the firm as the reason for leaving. Dampier then set up Churchill

Investments with James Ware before moving to Hargeaves Lansdown in November

1998 after a clash of personalities.

He claims he has never been happier and believes he will be at Hargreaves

Lansdown for the foreseeable future. He is even considering staying there

until he retires, which is quite a commitment for someone who is only 44.

He says: “You could not find a better atmosphere anywhere and the

opportunities are immense.”

It is these opportunities which he believes will hold the firm in good

stead for the future and could even herald a revolution in the way

financial products are distributed.

He thinks Hargreaves&#39 diversification into stakeholder and fund

supermarkets will put the control of distribution firmly back into the

IFA&#39s hands.

Dampier says: “Take Isas, for example. I think we will see many fund

management groups drop them from their product range. It is just a product

wrapper and I think providers will give it over to supermarkets and

intermediaries to put together and sell. They will pay us for doing the

admin.”

He is also positive about the IFA sector despite the threatened end of

polarisation. “Why would anyone buy from a multi-tie when you can get a

much better proposition through an IFA? The abolition of polarisation will

not necessarily be a disaster, it will just be a great shame as it will

confuse the consumer.”

As a top industry pundit, has he any tips for budding Dampiers of the

future? “Not likely,” he says. “I don&#39t want to tell others how to do it.

But seriously, it is just a case of making yourself available to

journalists and getting back to them, as well as always thinking of

building long-term relationships and putting some effort into it, even

though that may mean spending an hour telling someone the basics.”

But perhaps another reason why Dampier has such a high profile is that no

one has a bad word to say about him.

“Nice bloke” is the comment bandied around by most. Even those he has

crossed swords with in the press, such as Best Invest&#39s Jason Hollands,

says they are friends and any spat is on a professional level.

What about skeletons in the cupboard? Well, there is always one of his

great ancestors, a 17th Century pirate (sorry, buccaneer) called William

Dampier, who apparently beat Captain Cook to be the first Englishman to set

foot on Australia.

“He was a typical Dampier and found the barren part of Australia about

200 years too early. Later on, they found nickel and gold there.”

Rivals might argue that, given his ancestry, Dampier has found his true

home at Hargreaves Lansdown. But he says they are only jealous.

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