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My Beautiful Career: Peter Toogood

City Financial investment director talks about the stresses of builing a new product from scratch and the perils of hubris in financial services.

What was your first job within financial services?

My first job was as a life inspector at Sun Life Assurance in central London having failed spectacularly to make a contribution to the world of accountancy. The late 1980s was an amazing time to join the industry. Regulation was in its infancy and financial services was in the midst of a long-term boom. It was a fantastic introduction to the industry and I will always be grateful for the opportunity it presented.

Describe your current role.

I am now the investment director at City Financial. The role is very varied but with a primary focus on building and delivering ‘The Adviser Centre’. Having been at the heart of building some of the most prominent adviser-facing research solutions in the last 20 years, I am relishing the opportunity to extend this work in conjunction with a number of my former colleagues and aiming to make it as relevant and dynamic as possible. Working in a smaller organisation once again has also been a blessing and although sometimes challenging, it does give you a greater sense of purpose.

What is the biggest challenge in your current role?

Building a new proposition, even within an established business, has its challenges. These mostly relate to prioritisation and time management. Creating a new product from scratch is always stressful but this is my third build-out. The fund managers we are seeing as part of our research process have been very generous with their time and we are grateful to our clients and industry contacts who have been willing to engage with us as we develop the proposition and help us to ensure that some of the criticisms levelled at previous products are addressed.

What is the highlight of your career to date?

My career has had its ups and downs. I have always relished interaction with fund managers and seeing our research being used to help advisers in their work is very rewarding. Receiving a Micropal award for the management of an emerging markets fund of funds was certainly a highlight. I have always enjoyed my time being interviewed on TV, where it is too easy to get carried away and some of my best and worst moments are there for posterity.

What is your career ambition?

I truly hope that ‘The Adviser Centre’ sets itself apart as the most complete and relevant expression of fund research and recommendations for advisers. There is no apology for aspiring to deliver the best possible product in a post-RDR world. Those who know me well will tell you that this is my passion, not merely a job, and this passion is shared by my colleagues.

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

The financial services sector has never been more challenging to enter. It is very exclusive and alas is becoming more not less so. I fear that we are turning parts of the industry into an academic exercise which, given that financial markets are living beasts, is a shame. The best advice is to remain rounded, try to use your intuition as well as your wisdom and remember to avoid hubris! 

Peter Toogood is investment director at City Financial

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