What was your first job?
I was a mortgage underwriter for Chelsea Building Society starting back in 1995. One year later, I took the opportunity of moving into their newly created sales support team which was when I first encountered working directly with IFAs. I worked alongside the business development managers, building relations with IFAs to generate new business using my knowledge gained as an underwriter.
What attracted you to financial services?
Maths was my favourite subject at school and after studying it at A-level, I always knew that I wanted to use it in my career in some way but I didn’t want to become an accountant – no offence to accountants.
Financial services seemed like a good option that would offer me continual career development and job security because I took the view that there would always be a need for it in some form. No one in my family had worked in the industry before so it was very much the unknown for me, but that added to the excitement.
How would you describe your current role?
Extremely varied and fast-paced in that we are an acquisitive business so we need to quickly assess whether a potential practice is a good fit for us. My role is to determine what regulatory risks we would face, how we can mitigate them and what the costs will be by conducting a thorough due diligence process. I also oversee ’business as usual’ compliance across the group which involves day-to-day monitoring of our group firms’ adherence to FSA rules and best practice, RDR preparation along with interpretation and implementation of new regulatory policies and guidance.
Why did you decide to join Perspective?
Prior to joining Perspective, I worked for Paradigm Partners LLP as a business consultant to IFAs and Perspective was a major client of mine They asked me to come on board full-time and I jumped at the chance of joining a fast-growing, private equity-backed business.
What is the biggest change you have seen in the IFA industry?
Without a doubt, it is the retail distribution review. I have worked through N2, M-day and A-Day which at the time seemed like a huge change but in terms of impact on the industry RDR creates the biggest opportunity for firms to transform into strong business models with a clear vision, sustainable profits, a consistent advice process and a transparent client propo-sition where clients know exactly what to expect and how much it will cost. These are not easy things to achieve so the time, investment and patience needed to get it right is truly unprecedented.
What is the biggest challenge for Perspective right now?
RDR readiness is of course at the top of our agenda but we are pleased with the progress that the group is making and we are well placed for January 2013. Our biggest challenge and opportunity to create value is in integrating acquired firms and developing organic growth while creating an environment for our advisers to retain local autonomy in how they want to commercially develop the business within the RDR framework.
What would be the one piece of advice you would give to someone considering a career in financial services?
Be honest with yourself about whether you are prepared to work extremely hard in an industry that changes constantly requiring you to cont-inually grow your knowledge. If you can answer yes, you will be rewarded with a fulfilling career in an industry where the sky is the limit.
Julie Hepworth is group regulatory manager at Perspective Financial Group