What was it that originally attracted you to the world of finance/wealth management?
My route into the sector has not been a typical one, as I did not attend university, but it is one I am proud of as an alternative path for those wishing to pursue a career in wealth management. Following A-Levels, I became a receptionist at a wealth management company. I thrived being the first point of contact for clients, along with finding the stock market fascinating. I am motivated by helping people and I am passionate about supporting individuals to make the most of their wealth.
Who is your investment hero/someone you admire in the sector?
Geraldine Weiss, known as 'the Grand Dame of Dividends', was very much a trailblazer in ‘a man’s world’ at the time and an inspiration for females in investment management. Having been refused roles in the sector due to her gender (aside from secretarial posts), she founded a successful investment newsletter business in 1966 where she wrote under the name ‘G. Weiss’.
Geraldine’s approach was to produce safe, rather than spectacular returns, highlighting the importance of dividends. Her methodology would serve an investor well to this day. Between 2000 and 2016, the ‘lucky 13’ portfolio of stocks recommended by her newsletter outperformed both the S&P 500 and Berkshire Hathaway.
What is the biggest issue facing this generation in the wealth management space?
I think media coverage about individuals who have got rich quick is a real worry facing this generation, for example the Reddit user who turned their US$50,000 life savings into US$22m betting on shares in GameStop, or the Norwegian who bought US$27 worth of Bitcoin in 2009 and forgot about it.
It is very easy to be sucked into the excitement when it feels like everyone else seems to be getting rich, when you’re not. It is an investing form of ‘FOMO’ (fear of missing out) and with investing apps so readily available, there is a danger of individuals investing in very high risk assets, or betting more money than they can afford. Almost certainly some investors will get burned as a result and be put off saving for the future.
What were your best and worst investment decisions?
One of my best has been Draper Esprit, a venture capital firm which invests in disruptive tech companies at the early stages of the company life cycle. Management is impressive, with the company producing a return of 45% over the past twelve months.
My worst investment has sadly been my property. I purchased a flat in London which has been caught in the widely publicised cladding problems. The government has, however, recently announced more money to tackle the issue, so hopefully the problems will be rectified soon.
What advice would you give to young talent who want to enter the world of wealth management?
Over time, I’ve realised it is our differences which are a benefit – be authentic and be yourself. Each client is different and they in turn will look for different qualities in an investment manager. Surrounding yourself with a diverse range of mentors and role models can also be a great source of support in creating your own path to success.
Learning from others’ experiences as well as your own is valuable. It is a slow path gaining the experience and confidence to look after clients, but it is worth it.
In what way does being of a younger generation bring an advantage to your role?
I have tried to use this to my advantage by diversifying our client base. Clearly most come into their wealth later in life, meaning a large majority of our clients are either already in or planning towards retirement.
I have been looking to take on the next generation by setting up Bare Trusts, or Junior ISAs, where appropriate, along with utilising my network to speak with other female business founders about their investment options.
What is the biggest wider issue surrounding the wealth management sector?
The costs of regulation is an issue which I feel needs addressing. The Financial Services Compensation Scheme’s budget for 2021/22 surpassed £1bn, a figure which disproportionately hurts smaller firms and can therefore stifle growth and entrepreneurship.
A further problem with high regulatory costs is that it is often passed onto the client, hurting their future returns. In an environment where the cost of advice is under scrutiny, I think the structure of our regulatory framework could also benefit from a cost/benefit review.
What is the most significant moment of your career so far?
Starting a wealth management business with my two colleagues, Neil Jones and Ian Kavanagh. It is the best decision of our careers so far and it is a wonderful feeling to be in control of our own destiny.
More recently, being a Finalist for ‘Wealth Manager of the Year’ in the Women in Investment Awards 2020 is an honour which I am extremely proud of.
The original version of this article appears in Citywire Wealth Manager. Republished with permission.