Throughout my working life, I’m happy to have been able to live up to the old CV staple of ‘liking a challenge’. Whether it is moving from private client relationship management to directing the investment process in the past few years, or embarking on a degree in Law and Economics at Victoria University in my hometown of Wellington, NZ at 17, or leaving at 19 to run my own business, I’ve always gone feet first where others fear to tread!
I sold my still-thriving wholefood cafe and catering company in 1995, after five years, and moved kit and caboodle to the UK to sing with international opera and theatre companies for the next three years: from student to entrepreneur to opera singer to investment manager in four easy moves – now that’s a self-help book I should be writing!
A life in theatre, however, comes without a safety net. To survive between contracts, one needs to make an additional living, and for me that meant balancing statistical analysis for Lloyds of London or rebalancing funded equity portfolios elsewhere, while reserving those precious weekends for roof-raising around the fair, middling and great concert halls of Europe.
I quickly rekindled my passion for markets and found myself spending less and less time on the road. For me, the logical next step was to focus on financial services, which resulted in me taking a junior position with Capel Cure Sharp in 1998.
I may still be with the same firm, but it has undergone a number of significant changes, both in ownership and from a regulatory perspective, that means it bears little resemblance to the company I originally joined. These changes have brought about diverse challenges and opportunities.
My early career
Early on, I realised that to progress in the private client industry I needed to be qualified. Completing various papers of the then Securities & Investment Institute (now the CISI) provided me initially with the understanding of what I did not know, to ultimately provide me with the foundation to understand how to best serve my clients’ needs.
Another important factor in my career has been working with outstanding individuals who have encouraged development and, indeed, not been afraid to facilitate role changes that were not necessarily beneficial to themselves. At that time my role encompassed both relationship management and investment decision-making responsibilities for my clients’ multi-asset portfolios.
This meant that days were filled with client calls and meetings combined with watching markets and deciding when and how one might make changes to the investments held. This sounds rather unexciting, but when markets start racing or plummeting, by incident or accident, you truly understand the scale of trust that has been placed in you and the importance of the role you have been tasked with.
During that time I also joined the trustee board of the LankellyChase Foundation – a charity that works to promote change that will improve the quality of people’s lives. It focuses particularly on areas of social need to help the most disadvantaged in society to fulfil their potential in areas including penal reform, mental health, community regeneration and breaking cycles of abuse.
This has enabled me to see the world from a very different perspective and for anyone considering joining the finance profession, I would highly recommend taking such opportunities to influence beyond conventional boundaries as both personally fulfilling and organisationally diverse.
Over the years,as the industry developed and the business changed and following my return from maternity leave,I was offered the opportunity to take on the Regional Investment Director role for the Affluent Investment Management business in London.This was a significant career change, moving my responsibilities from day-to-day client and team management to overall investment content and construction of multi-asset portfolios across the business.
I now represent the company on TV and radio and have responsibility for risk management, investment performance, revenue streams, and indeed a talented and committed team. And I still have time for the odd ‘bathroom aria’, much to the delight of my husband (or so he says) and the horror of my daughters!
It’s a truism to say that the one constant in this game is change. Having piloted both clients and business through the latest financial crisis, I have gained further confidence in my ability to ‘decision out’ new and beneficial ways to protect and grow client assets in a manner best suited to their needs. Whether that is through direct relationships or as business leadership, one must never forget whose money it is.
Adaptability is vital and I look forward to growing in, and helping shape, this industry.
For anyone considering joining private client investment management, be prepared to be equally stimulated, frustrated, and challenged but remember that hard work, commitment, and enthusiasm combined with flexibility and adaptability can offer anyone from any background many rewards. Finally always remember to take advantage of those opportunities that change can bring.