60 seconds interview with Louise Bracken-Smith
Louise Bracken Smith of the Fairway Group talks to Citywealth in our 60 second interview slot about Curiously Elastic Limits of Human Performance and being a MoMe.
24 July 2018
Tell me about your role
I am an owner and director of Strabens Hall. Much of my day is spent working with my team and giving advice and direction. I review and research managers and support the firm’s investment advisory and investment monitoring and consulting service. I’m lucky that the role allows me to refocus on two or three things each day so I never feel stale.
How has the private client industry changed?
It depends on where you look at it from. There are still firms out there managing money in the same way they were twenty five years ago and others which are racing ahead and embracing robo and a plethora of other new developments. Fundamentally, many facets of the industry are still the same however, the biggest change is the sheer choice of providers available for both clients and advisers. How regulation is affecting the way advice is given is also an enduring theme. There continues to be a rotation away from talent heading straight to private banking in favour of financial advice. I think this partly reflects the opportunity to really add value to client circumstances, whereas often for discretionary fund managers, they are in an increasingly crowded and commoditised market place. The long lunch has also long gone. It’s very rare now for these to happen and when I started in 1995, we didn’t have smart phones so you could really go on holiday!
What lesson have you learnt?
I think someone like David Hieatt* has probably penned many a wiser word than I ever could. He is an ex Saatchi guy who launched Howies jeans and later Hieatt Jeans: he’s an inspiration. Notwithstanding that:
Save, save and save some more. Try not to borrow. Work hard, play hard. Work hard, make mistakes, learn from them. Volunteer for everything. Some hunger and a willingness to learn will get you a long way. Take joy in the little things. And as Ben Stiller said in Starsky & Hutch: ‘Be who you really are’.
What challenges do your clients face?
I think that keeping abreast of legislation and how that affects long term plans is one of the biggest issues. Probably more fundamental than that is income planning in retirement and the subsequent estate planning around that issue. The cost of living has grown significantly and continues to grow and many have concerns about how they are going to provide for themselves in retirement whilst at the same time living a little and handing wealth on to the next generation without running out of capital. For others the big question is when are they going to be able to retire. The Best Marigold Hotel idea may soon be more fact than fiction for many.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received?
In terms of my career, someone I still admire immensely advised me ‘to always be keen and volunteer for everything’ it has stood in me mostly in good stead although it’s now peppered with a little more consideration before bounding off like Tiger. In terms of my personal life: ‘work as hard at your marriage and family as you do at your job and your sport and you will be just fine’ One of my father’s great friends told me this, he was a very wise man.
Tell us about any other directorships you have?
I have one directorship at present and it’s been very fulfilling and has taught me a lot. My previous experience was a lot less positive although it enabled me to take away a number of valuable lessons, which I have used to great benefit at Strabens Hall. I also spent close to 18 years working with or on the Finance Committee of Cystic Fibrosis. Although not a ‘Directorship’ This was also a rewarding experience.
How do you relax after a long day?
I love sport but also spending time with my family. Coaching rugby is a positive development in my life and I’ve taken up open water sea swimming over the last few months. I’ve found it to be meditative at times but other times physically and mentally challenging. I’m also halfway through knitting my own beanie (email me if you want to know why!).