What was your first job within financial services?
My first job, back in 1992, was in the actuarial department at Swiss Life (UK), supporting the group scheme underwriting and annuity businesses. It was the first time I had heard of actuaries, having emerged into the world of financial services via an engineering degree. As you can imagine, I was soon hooked by the exciting world of statistics and mortality…
Describe your current role
The best word to describe it is exciting. We operate in a very competitive environment and there is a raft of regulations. With overall responsibility for our pensions, Sipp, drawdown, annuities, investment-linked annuities, equity release and bond businesses, no two days are the same.
What is the biggest challenge in your current role?
The customer is at the heart of what we do at LV= and we believe that the customer’s interests are usually best represented by access to advice, particularly in the complex world of retirement. There is so much good that the adviser profession and consumer-centric insurers are doing but there are many that are unaware of this. Our biggest challenge is making people aware that advice is critical, and trying to help the adviser community to readily demonstrate their value to both existing and potential clients.
What is the high-light of your career to date?
It would be too difficult to pick out just one. We have been very fortunate at LV= to have had a succession of record years, so I hope to keep adding highlights. I am proud of the fact that we are number one in the fixed term annuity market and how we position the product for the customer, as well as the fact that we have risen to become the second largest drawdown provider in the UK over the six years I’ve been at LV=. It is great to see the market recognising us as retirement income specialists. However, it is all down to the team. I was lucky enough to start at Swiss Life with a good manager who helped nurture the people side and see the importance of supportive management and I am proud to have a team that have and share the same goal: to do the right things for the right outcomes.
What is your career ambition?
It has always been to enjoy what I do and it is very rare for me to have a bad day, so in many ways it is more of the same. I am competitive and like to keep challenging myself, and I love the dynamics of working with different people, so I hope to keep stretching myself. I like to know that I am making a difference, so my ambitions relate more to that than anything else. And maybe inject a little fun along the way – life is too short otherwise.
How would you advise someone starting out in the industry?
Every day is a school day. It may sound a cliché, but clichés survive for a reason and this one means a lot to me. The key thing someone needs is to have self-awareness; accepting where you can learn from others and develop, whilst becoming confident with your own strengths. Everyone is different and there are many ways to do things in order to achieve a good result, so learn from others, keep what works and always appreciate that there is plenty you do not know. More importantly, be proud of the industry you work in. The more positive we are, the more customers will want to understand how much we can help improve their lives.