Tell us about yourself and what your role is in the company?
“I’m the CEO and the architect behind the idea of Radiant. I have three main roles within the organisation: strategy, people and profit. With the first of those, I have control of the vision of the business and I’m responsible for driving Radiant Financial in the right direction.
The second part of my role is creating a culture with strong values at the core. I represent the brand when I’m out in the marketplace. It’s my job to show the best of us, the way we think and the way we behave as a business to our stakeholders and our clients. It has to come from the top down. And thirdly, I’m responsible for delivering profitability and return on investment to our shareholders.
Personally, I think the art of being a good CEO is hiring great people and developing them. I don’t feel I should be taking credit for things myself because I’ve got an amazing team who deserve much more of the credit. I’m only a good CEO because I’ve got that team around me.”
What made you start a business in wealth management?
“I’ve been in financial services for 41 years now and I love the sector. I think it’s very important but it’s not necessarily recognised for what it can do for people.
Financial education was the biggest driver for me in starting the business. More arguments happen in a household over money than over most things. Ultimately, I think our education system fails us as individuals in this area. We all leave school/college/university with surprisingly little knowledge about finance.
But our profession has become elitist, and I think that’s probably because regulations have made it very expensive to run a financial services business. To create profitability you become more elitist and deal with people with more money. Wealth management businesses have ended up serving a thin slice of the UK demography.
The vision of Radiant is to be a much broader church of availability, financial education and financial advice to the wider population. We do that by offering different sectors of the population different levels of services. We look after companies as well as private individuals and take a segmented approach. My vision is that we are the widest, most-holistic IFA – not the biggest, and not necessarily with the most assets! We want to really fill the advice gap in the market.”
What is one top challenge and one top opportunity that the wealth management industry faces today?
“I think the top challenge is overregulation. Clearly, we should be a regulated industry – because if you get someone’s personal finances wrong it can be disastrous for their lives. But when you get it right, it can be transformational.
The biggest challenge in working within a regulated framework is turning it into a service that is accessible and understandable. The regulator requires us to explain so much to a client in so much detail. Turning it into something that can be easily digested by a client can be a real challenge.
For example, a standard report that goes out to a client wanting to make an investment can be anywhere between 30 and 50 pages! There’s probably only a very thin part of that information and advice that is relevant to them. We need to strike the balance between having the right degree of regulation but also the right degree of digestibility. Only then can clients truly understand what they’re doing, as opposed to being locked in a morass of technical jargon.
This challenge creates a big opportunity, in terms of opening up advice and investment to more people.”
What skills are needed now, and in the future, to succeed in wealth management firms?
“I think to be truly successful you genuinely need to care about making a change in somebody’s life. Our responsibility as financial planners is to understand people’s future aspirations and to find ways within their affordability to fulfil that future.
Many of our clients are lost in a very complex environment. In those situations, it’s our responsibility to simplify it and take the strain away from them. The best way to do that is to understand what people’s life goals are and to draw a map for them and their financial resources. That’s a lovely job.
The biggest thing for me is to have advisors who really care about changing an outcome for a client. We can support people straight from university all way through their career with our internal Academy. Equally we can hire people who are at a certain point in their career and help them to the next stage. We want our people to want to strive and be better, because the outcome is that our clients get an exponentially better service and that’s what differentiates us as a business.
Why should people consider a career in wealth management?
For a start, it’s an unbelievably varied career! The range of advice you might give a client is phenomenal. It could be retirement advice, advice on inheritance tax, long-term care for parents, school fees planning. It’s incredibly varied.
It’s also a well-rewarded job. Money is important but so is feeling valued. If you’re not going into a core vocation such as teaching or medicine, this is truly a place where you can make a difference to people’s lives.
Sadly, there are not enough people coming into our profession. In my opinion it’s not viewed in such high regard as becoming an accountant, lawyer, nurse or doctor.
But I absolutely love my profession. I get the Friday blues, not the Monday blues. It’s intellectually challenging, you can go in any direction. No one client is the same – we’re dealing with people’s emotional and financial health. And we get paid very well to have deep conversations about people’s life hopes and ambitions, and it’s our job to help them get there. What a brilliant career!”
How has your service adapted to covid-19? From giving face-to-face advice to connecting with clients digitally?
“COVID has been a dramatic life changer to a lot of people. My heart goes out to everyone who it’s affected in a very close way through the loss of a loved one. It’s always darkest before the dawn – so when something bad happens there is always an opportunity that happens out of it.
Working from home has given us different opportunities. Spending hours on a train to get to an office when you could work at home – it’s a massive loss of time and money.
Our firm has flourished in every aspect during lockdown. We’re more profitable and our clients are better serviced because we can see them more frequently as we’ve cut down travel time. It doesn’t stop us going to see them. But doing lots of meetings via video calls is incredibly efficient, so we have more time to see clients. There have been some real gains here. Our clients are loving our accessibility.”