What was your first job within financial services?
I started at Legal & General in the late 1980s, working part-time as an introducer. In 1992 I moved to Allied Dunbar, working for an advisory firm based in Northern Ireland that was their biggest appointed representative in the UK. I worked there as an adviser and then, having studied industrial management whilst at university, moved into sales management. I worked as both an adviser and a manager for three years and then bought the business.
Describe your current role.
I am CEO of Sesame Bankhall Group. A lot of people still think of us as just Sesame but the fact is the group and my role is far broader than that. It encompasses distribution through Sesame, Bankhall and PMS, as well as wealth management. This includes Optimum Investment Management and our platform. We also have a major mortgage services division and one of the largest mortgage valuation companies in the UK. So the biggest thing about my role is the diversity.
What is the biggest challenge in your current role?
The sheer rate of change. There is so much going on in our industry, both from a regulatory perspective and also within the business itself. When I joined SBG two years ago I injected a new pace of change into the business. This included recruiting and building a strong team of people around me with the specialist skills necessary to move the business forward. This has enabled SBG to evolve to offer advisers and their customers a new broader range of services and more value.
What is the highlight of your career to date?
I have been very lucky and had many highlights. Back in the early days I was a financial adviser working in a large firm. Later on, I was a manager coming through the ranks and winning awards for top manager and then top adviser firm. I was fortunate to leave there and help set up another business from scratch, which was incredibly rewarding. Now with SBG I am heading up the largest financial services group for intermediaries in the UK. So I feel lucky to have had a varied business career encompassing these major opportunities and achievements.
What is your career ambition?
To be proud of my achievements when I retire from the industry. I want to look back and see that I helped to change it for the better. I want to help advisers to be successful, whilst at the same time helping them to mitigate risk. That is why we need to create a world where this success is attainable without any consumer detriment.
What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?
First of all, do not listen to the doom-mongers because this is a great industry and profession to be a part of. There are fantastic opportunities out there, so be proud and make the most of it. Nothing makes up for hard work.