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Richard Goodall

The Ascentric sales and marketing director is driven by creating technology solutions for IFAs that keep pace with changing customer expectations and while much of the industry is still preparing for RDR, he is one step ahead in planning how wrap platforms will work alongside new adviser models Interview by Lee Jones

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Ascentric sales and marketing director Richard Goodall has spent time as an adviser and working for providers but says working alongside advisers has been the most rewarding part of his career.

Goodall has bounced between the two sides of the industry throughout his career, from provider to adviser, back to provider and then to tied adviser before finding his niche in creating technology solutions for IFAs.

He started his career straight after leaving school at General Accident. “I started at the bottom of the ladder as a clerk and progressed.

Relatively early on, I worked out that if you worked hard, you got on. I saw the guys who used to go out and talk to advisers, the inspectors, who were well dressed and carrying nice briefcases,and I said to myself that I wanted to do that.”

Still a teenager, Goodall became one of the firm’s inspectors, a job that allowed him to promote products and advise on them in the days before polarisation. But he decided his future was on the advice-side, so he moved on and took his exams to become an IFA.

“It is all about a person’s motivation to take the exams. Exams for their own sake are really hard but if you see it as a positive experience to help you further your career and your engagement with clients, they are a really good thing.”

Goodall also saw his qualifications as an affirmation of his status as an adviser: “I used to wear a sober John Major suit to see clients in an attempt to be conservative with a small c, because I was very aware they were putting their wealth into the hands of someone younger than their children. It was really important to me at that age to have professional qualifications so I could show them I knew what I was talking about.”

He took more exams to gain qualifications in management as well as financial advice and it was in this role that Goodall says he feels most rewarded.

“I enjoy working with people and seeing how they grow and develop, from junior roles to senior roles in the industry. I presented at the Money Marketing RDR Invitational event in Bristol recently and it was great to see there were half a dozen people there who have worked for me in different guises who are now doing exceptionally well. To find talent and then hone it is very important for me.”

After a spell at Axa and Zurich, where Goodall helped remodel its network into Openwork, he moved into technology, taking a role at what is now 1st The Exchange.

“I enjoy helping IFAs grow their business and work with them strategically. I think like an IFA, not a provider, and I use that now, working alongside IFAs to build their businesses.”

He recently moved to Ascentric because the “noise” that was around back-office development in the last decade is now in the wrap platform sector.

“The RDR has played its part in the growth and speed of the wrap market but the main reason is that customer expectations are changing – the technology that is available now is expected.”

Goodall says this growth must not be held back by bigger technology providers that are “dragging their feet” on RDR changes such as adviser-charging and re-registration.

“As an industry, we should try harder to ease the movement of monies because that is what we should do as a service to the adviser and the client.

“If assets come on at a certain speed, then why isn’t it the same speed for assets to come off? We have to remember they are the clients’ assets and we serve the IFA and the client, so we should not put restrictions in place.

“Once you are ahead with your proposition, you need to look forward rather than back at those who are not yet RDR-ready. We are now looking at RDR day two and keeping on the front foot, so there is always a distance between those trying to catch up and those trying to create a new world.”

For Goodall, looking beyond the RDR means figuring out how wrap platforms will work alongside new adviser models. “IFAs are good businesspeople and will mould their models around the RDR. My job is to help advisers achieve what is possible by the use of technology.”

He says one big area of growth for Ascentric is white-labelled platforms and the company is working with a few adviser firms to create their own platforms.

“You could feasibly have a platform with one group that has direct, restricted and independent business all working on the same platform, allowing clients to transfer from one to another. After the RDR, businesses can be more than one thing but you need one technology to support that.”

Goodall says he would welcome new entrants into the sector but predicts that some of Ascentric’s future rivals may be its own creations. “A brand might have a wrap provided by us, competing with our own wrap.”

He also predicts that wraps will become all-encompassing as clients demand more from technology. “It is just a matter of time before all a client’s assets are on a platform. Technology provides choice and allows the market to decide how it wants to distribute. It gives advisers the ability to create a much wider proposition base from high-net-worth to low-earning clients.”

Born: Poole, 1966
Lives: Bristol
Education: Nailsea Comprehensive, Open University Business School MBA, Dip PFS
Career: 2009-present: sales and marketing director, Ascentric; 2005-09: sales and marketing director, 1st The Exchange; 2004-05: area sales director, Zurich Advice Network; 2001-04: sales director, Axa Sun Life; 1989-2001: regional director, Noble Lowndes; 1982-89: life inspector, General Accident
Likes: Passion, my family, leading something
Dislikes: People not delivering, hiding behind process
Drives: BMW X5
Film: Escape to Victory
Book: It’s Not About the Bike, Lance Armstrong

Band: Black Eyed Peas
Career ambition: To enjoy what I do and have an impact
Life ambition: As above
If I wasn’t doing this, I would be…A tennis coach

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