1. What was your first break in business?

Getting a call to discuss the new financial planning advice business being set up by Robson Laidler in 2005.

2. What did you want to be growing up?

Airline pilot – I’m still a bit of a plane spotter!

3. What attracted you to your current role?

The opportunity to design a financial planning advice business from scratch for the benefit of clients. Previous roles I had been in were very much focused on selling products, but I was keen to break away from that philosophy when developing the business at Robson Laidler Wealth.  The role at Robson Laidler Wealth allows me to deal with interesting clients from diverse backgrounds and with a range of different financial planning needs.

4. What is your organisations mission?

Our mission is to help our clients achieve and maintain the lifestyle they want without fear of running out of money.  We believe it is vital that we take the time to really understand what’s important to a client before offering them advice about their money.  It’s about asking good questions and listening to the answers. A skill that a lot of “professionals” have yet to master!  I truly believe if we put clients’ needs at the centre of what we do, we will have a mutually beneficial relationship.

5. How do you get the best out of your staff?

We are a close-knit team with well-designed processes – this ensures any job is done by the right person with the right skills. We have regular meetings within the team to communicate important information about the business, our clients or future strategy and feedback during these meetings is encouraged to keep everyone on the same page. We also make sure the appropriate team members are involved in any relevant process reviews with the opportunity to suggest or implement improvements.  As a business we have a bonus structure based on team profitability, which also helps to encourage good performance.

6. What has been your career highlight?

It is difficult to think about a specific event as a career highlight although being one of the few financial planners in the North East to be a Chartered Financial Planner, as recognised by the Chartered Insurance Institute. As well as a Chartered Wealth Manager, recognised by the Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment, is a proud highlight. 

I do get a real sense of achievement seeing the difference great financial planning has on our clients’ lifestyles.

7. What has been your biggest challenge?

My biggest challenge was persevering in some of my earlier career roles when I didn’t feel I fitted in with the culture and values of the organisation.  Even though this period was a challenge, it got me to the position where I was able to take advantage of the opportunity to get Robson Laidler Wealth off the ground.  You never know what’s round the corner.

8. Who or what inspires you?

I am inspired by a range of individuals and I try to gain positive experiences from different environments.  I regularly attend professional conferences, webinars, networking events etc. and I usually come away from these with a few ideas to implement in our business to make things better. 

Currently I’m reading a book about Ernest Shackleton’s failed expedition to the Antarctic on the ship Endurance in 1914.  His ship was crushed by ice and the crew were stranded but despite this dreadful outcome he demonstrated incredible fortitude and courage to battle the conditions and eventually sailed in the ship’s lifeboat to South Georgia to get help to rescue the crew.  That is inspirational.

9. What is your organisations short and long term goals?

Our short-term goals are to recruit another paraplanner and finish developing our website as well as our regular financial targets relating to turnover and profitability.  Longer term goals are about planning for the success of the business in the future and being able to hand control over to our talented staff when the time comes to live the after-work life I’m planning for – although this is quite a few years away yet!

10. How do you achieve a good work / life balance?

I consider myself very fortunate to be surrounded by a great team who can support me in developing the business.  This means I can rely on others to ensure client service is maintained even when I’m out of the office or in meetings with other clients. 

My day to day work is talking to clients about what they want out of life and I feel it is important I model a good work life balance to both clients and my team.  We have good processes in place that helps us prioritise work, which provides for an element of flexibility in our working day so if someone needs extra time to spend with a friend at lunchtime or wants to leave early to play golf we can easily accommodate that. While I enjoy the work, I do I believe it is essential to make the most of life outside of work.  Nobody is likely to have, “I wish I had spent more time at work” on their gravestone!