What was your first job within financial services?
Selling insurance door-to-door for Hambro Life. I lasted six months. It showed me everything that was wrong with the industry: the only driver of success was quantity, which was totally disconnected from appropriateness for the client. I ditched the £20k and the Porsche and went to start up the financial services department of a medium-sized accountancy firm, which later became Old Mill Financial Services.
Describe your current role.
As founder and CEO, I am lucky – I can do pretty much what I want. But with that comes immense responsibility and the odd sleepless night. I concentrate on strategy and control quite a bit of resource behind it. We have a clear vision and great people focused on delivering state-of-the-art centralised investmentpropositions to advisers through our integrated investment and platform technology services. I ensure that the key components – our discretionary fund management team, operations, software development, project management and compliance – all work together in the delivery of the best possible client outcomes.
What is your biggest challenge?
Our business does not fall within the usual boxes of either platform, technology or investment management; we are much more. Advisers appreciate the positive difference we can bring to their business and clients: a single and integrated investment process that brings together risk profiling, asset allocation, portfolio building and the production of client-facing reports. They enjoy the effortless journey and smaller compliance risk.
What is the highlight of your career to date?
Launching Interact, the first integrated online simplified advice process for advisers. They are facing the harsh financial implications from removal of trail income and we have launched technology that can replace and increase their recurrent revenue. This future-proofs their businesses and enables management of a broader and deeper pool of clients more cost-effectively. Deploying technology will lead more people to seek advice. The FCA has been pushing for this type of innovation.
What is your career ambition?
To enable ease of access to financial advice. People need it and want it. The industry has not changed much in 25 years; there is still the concept that financial services are sold, not bought. The world over, people are looking for more modern and efficient means of buying products and services. Advisers need to adapt and use the processes employed by other online services. It will be the only way to ensure an increasingly profitable future.
How would you advise someone starting out in the industry?
It is all about qualifications. Technology will lead to face-to-face services becoming more highly valued. The trick for the next generation will be to ensure they have the right qualifications to take advantage of this. Additional qualifications in tax, law and accounting may become more relevant. Face-to-face advice will become even more specialised.
Richard Mein is founder and chief executive of Parmenion