My Beautiful Career: The Lang Cat principal Mark Polson

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The Lang Cat’s principal talks about fulfilling his career ambitions and offers some advice for marketeers new to the industry

What was your first job in financial services?

I started off in the direct sales force at Scottish Widows, on its tied adviser graduate scheme. We got trained up really well and really quickly, passing FPC in a year or two. But in that time there was also a lot of putting quote packs together and “good morning, Scottish Widows. How can I help you?”

Describe your current role.

I run The Lang Cat, which is a business of 10 people based mainly out of Edinburgh, with some Southern outposts. We do two things.

First, we work with platforms, pension providers, investment providers and advisers to deliver insight, analysis and consultancy on the retail investment markets. That includes commercial analysis and take-to-market strategy, as well as the guides we publish.

Second, we are a strategic communications agency. That means we help all the folk from part one with writing and producing anything from websites and videos to white papers, brochures, key features and T&Cs. We also handle PR for a number of clients, mainly in the financial technology space.

The comms guys borrow from the technical specialism of the consultancy and the consultancy borrows from the comms expertise of the agency. The idea is you get the best of both.

What is your biggest challenge currently?

We are at a stage where we could grow quite significantly quite quickly: our model works and we have lots of opportunities to expand, including in other markets like the US and South Africa. Keeping everything balanced and not over-extending is probably the hardest thing to work out.

What has been the highlight of your career to date?

I think it was when folk started to leave perfectly good jobs to come and join The Lang Cat. That was an amazing vote of confidence on their parts and one which I never take lightly.

What is your career ambition?

I am doing it now in working somewhere I can make a difference, with a bunch of insanely talented, like-minded people. It is also about avoiding the corporate straitjacket and enjoying what you do. I do not need much more than that.

How would you advise someone starting out in the industry?

I am speaking to the marketeers here: learn your stuff. The industry is littered with folk that got a marketing degree and think that if you have done a case study on Apple you can deal with this hyper-regulated, incredibly technical sector. You can’t. You need to understand the detail and then overlay the other stuff.