View more on these topics

My Beautiful Career: Hugo Thorman on empowering customers


What was your first job in financial services?

After 10 years in marketing, I went to London Business School to do an MBA and my first job on leaving was as strategy director for Abbey Life. 

We identified that direct-sales forces had a limited future and the result was the deal with Lloyds Bank which created Lloyds Abbey Life.

Describe your current role.

I am chief executive of a platform business, which entails managing all functions through an executive committee and board. The latter includes representatives of our owner, Royal London. The executive committee has representatives from IT, finance, operations, programmes, risk, HR, compliance, sales and marketing. Apart from managing day-to-day business, it is important to understand both the market and our customers. I also need a good idea of how the market will develop and how our business should position itself in that new environment.

What is the biggest challenge in your current role?

Deciding how to allocate scarce resources, which are mostly people, time and money. The business is growing rapidly and there is a long list of things we need to do but not sufficient resources or time to do them all. Making the right calls here is the difference between success and failure.

What is the highlight of your career to date?

Breaking even for the business. The nature of platforms is that there is a huge expense before clients are even found. Then the income from those clients is not high and is paid on an annual basis. This is what actuaries call “new business strain” but often in the non-life assurance world it is called a loss! It took us five years to get to the point where our income exceeded our expenses –  the feeling was fantastic! We had built a business from nothing to what is now over £6bn of assets, 250 staff and an operating profit.

What is your career ambition?

To get the business to over £17bn in assets and a profit comfortably in double figures by 2017. 

What advice would you give to someone starting out in the industry?

Don’t do it! No seriously, always refer to what the customer wants and needs and do the right thing. The industry has suffered because of the imbalance of knowledge between customer and provider. Regrettably, the industry abused that position and we have paid a high price. Now we have a chance to educate and empower customers to understand and “own” their long-term savings. Generally, what the customer wants is to achieve their long-term financial goals with minimum stress – that should dictate what we do for them.

Hugo Thorman is chief executive of Ascentric



What advisers are saying: Tax planning aspirations

This week I experienced my first real pang of parental protection (you could argue that this should have, perhaps, come 11 weeks earlier but hey we’re all on a journey). Talking to the father of a 16 week old (and significantly bigger) boy he commented that he hoped his son would befriend Noah rather than […]


Emma Simon: Long-term savings are a one-way street

Advisers are right to feel aggrieved by Friends Life’s decision to cancel the trail commission paid on two of its bonds. Customers should be up in arms too. I am no great fan of trail commission or any other kind – but this is a most unsatisfactory way of changing the status quo. If it […]

Pre-RDR commission under threat as Govt bans consultancy charging

The Government could target auto-enrolment schemes written on a commission basis pre-RDR after pensions minister Steve Webb set out plans to apply the ban on consultancy charging retrospectively. New legislation banning consultancy charges in auto-enrolment schemes came into force on 14 September. The rules only applies to deals agreed from 10 May, when Webb announced his […]


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up


    Leave a comment


    Why register with Money Marketing ?

    Providing trusted insight for professional advisers.  Since 1985 Money Marketing has helped promote and analyse the financial adviser community in the UK and continues to be the trusted industry brand for independent insight and advice.

    News & analysis delivered directly to your inbox
    Register today to receive our range of news alerts including daily and weekly briefings

    Money Marketing Events
    Be the first to hear about our industry leading conferences, awards, roundtables and more.

    Research and insight
    Take part in and see the results of Money Marketing's flagship investigations into industry trends.

    Have your say
    Only registered users can post comments. As the voice of the adviser community, our content generates robust debate. Sign up today and make your voice heard.

    Register now

    Having problems?

    Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3712

    Lines are open Monday to Friday 9:00am -5.00pm