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Peter mann

Bankhall’s chief executive is a polyglot who writes his notes in Greek so no one can crib from him but he has an open and transparent approach to business and he feels that the appointed rep model lacks dignity and the directly authorised route was the next step. Interview by Samantha Shaw

Bankhall chief executive Peter Mann is intent on bringing some substance to his group, chiefly by overhauling the more style-led business which he inherited.

Many in the industry felt nervous for Mann when he arrived as he following the larger than life entrepreneurs, Paul Hogarth and Simon Taylor. But Mann is not fazed.

“I was never going to even try to be another Paul or another Simon. That is just not me. I could not be like them so all I could do is be myself. Those that try and replicate someone else always get found out.”

Mann graduated from the University Of Kent at Canterbury with a first class honours degree in classics and took a few years out, living “on various beaches” teaching English as a foreign language, where he was able to exercise his considerable linguistic skills.

He built on his initial skills in studying Latin and Greek and is now fluent in French, Spanish, Italian and Russian. He claims not to be able to speak German but I have it on good authority that he can, according to Tony Murrell, who says: “Just perhaps not 100 per cent as fluent as the others, which in Peter’s mind is not good enough to mention.”

Mann was born in Epsom in Surrey and moved to Scotland 25 years ago with his then wife where he became a fan of Kilmarnock Football Club.

Having returned from his stint teaching English abroad, Mann returned to Epsom and spotted a job advertisement for a role as an inspector. “I did not know much more, except it came with a company car and was offering a lot of money.” It turned out to be a life inspector role with Scottish Amicable.

He became the firm’s top salesman for the next five years. When he moved to Scotland, he stayed with ScotAm and eventually became sales and distribution director.

After Prudential bought ScotAm in 1999, Mann moved into the IFA circuit, running ScotAm and Prudential’s respective IFA arms.

“But it was not the same culture at the Pru. It was not really working for me so I started looking around. I had known Paul Hogarth for a long time and decided that Bankhall was the place to go.”

As business development director, Mann realised that Bankhall’s exponential growth could not continue and he started to look for ways to achieve more from existing members without having to chase scale.

“One of the first things I did was when I went in was recommend that they close down the ISL network. I had already seen that the appointed rep model was flawed for today’s IFA environment.”

He became managing director and after Hogarth and Taylor’s decided to stand down from the firm, he became chief executive last August.

“I sometimes have to pinch myself. I feel so lucky that I really do get to do the best job in the world. It is a genuine pleasure and a privilege.

“I saw that there was a problem with the AR model as they are just so expensive to run. If 90 per cent of your commission is going back to the RI, there is nothing going back into the business. The cost of acquiring RIs has increased as well. But ultimately, people do not like being told what to do.”

Mann foresees the stage of development leap for Bankhall is just around the corner. He says if a business is centralised, the people will be more inclined to rebel and believes that people want a certain dignity that he feels is lacking in an AR model.

He considers that the DA model feels right. He says it was not out of the question for Bankhall to acquire other smaller network-based firms but they have yet to find anything that would add value to Bankhall hub. The acquisition of Skandia by Old Mutual threw up many possible outcomes, including sale, acquisition or a management buy out, which he says was an unfounded rumour.

Mann looked at all options but asserts: “I can confirm that Bankhall is absolutely not for sale at this moment in time.”

He has chosen to sit and wait for the wrap dust to settle before pinning his colours to one mast. “I have tried to move the debate on a little bit but I do not think everything is out there yet. The market is still embryonic and there has been too much hype.”

He prides himself on honesty and transparency and he describes himself as introspective and driven and his leisure reading includes French, Italian and Spanish novels and “fact books”. He writes crib notes on his presentations in Greek “so no one can read over my shoulder” and his favourite writers include Plato and Nietzsche.

But Mann is not all work and no play. He still has his enthusiasm for Kilmarnock FC and admits “odd, I know, for an Englishman to support a Scottish team”.

Born: Epsom, Surrey, 1958

Lives: Cheshire and Scotland

Education: BA (Hons) Classics, University of Canterbury

Career: 1985-89: University Of Kent, Canterbury, first class honours degree in Classics, 1989-92: various beaches, teaching English as a foreign language, 1992-95: Scottish Amicable (London), life inspector

1995-97: IFA, Glasgow, 1997-2001: Prudential/Scottish Amicable – head of IFA sales,

2001-04: Bankhall business development director,

2004-05: managing director, 2005-06: chief executive officer

Likes: Reading, Kilmarnock FC, interesting people

Dislikes: “Pixie dust” (people’s empty promises)

Drives: Porsche

Favourite book: The Iliad by Homer, The Republic by Plato

Favourite film: The Deer Hunter, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

Favourite album: Sogno by Andrea Bocelli

Life ambition: To watch the people close to me flourish and develop

Career ambition: I have the best job there is already – there is nothing more I could ask for

If I wasn’t doing my current job I would be… a university professor

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