Citywealth caught up with Debbie Lumsden, Private Client Director at VG, to find out what challenges the pandemic has created for her clients.
Tell me about your role.
As well as my board role and oversight of the BD, Marketing and HR functions, I am also responsible for one of VG’s private wealth teams. I enjoy the dual BD and client facing role as I have always managed client relationships and I think it is important to retain control over the way clients are managed so that you can ensure promises are delivered on. I enjoy being in the thick of it and at the coalface and being able to shape and influence decisions, which has become a reality at VG.
Tell us about your typical client profile.
Our clients are internationally mobile high-net-worth and ultra-high net worth individuals and families who typically have some form of nexus with the UK. A large proportion are entrepreneurs and private equity and hedge fund executives who are knowledge-rich but time-poor. They are experts in their field but rely on you to navigate the complex world of offshore structuring to ensure they implement the optimum structure to meet their individual needs which range from succession planning to asset protection and wealth preservation.
What challenges has the current pandemic created for your clients?
For our clients, it has created both opportunities and challenges. Many people have been forced to stay at home and spend time with their families which has given them the opportunity to focus on their own financial affairs and wealth structuring plans. Consequently, it has been an extremely busy year for the private wealth team at VG.
Many of our clients have faced similar challenges to us in terms of remote working, learning to use new technology, juggling home schooling, in addition to more serious issues around liquidity in their family business and commercial property portfolios and the need to refinance and find the best deals.
Most memorable work moment.
An interview for my first job in the Trust industry where I was interviewed by the MD of the firm on the top floor, from where there were panoramic views of our island. I was looking forward to starting a job as a glamourous secretary on the top floor and wearing smart suits. Instead, I ended up in the basement, working as a junior, and desperately trying to work out what a trust was.
Best and worst parts of your job?
The best part is the people. I am lucky to be part of such a great team at VG and I really enjoy the people I work with on a day to day basis. I also relish the opportunity of meeting new people, building relationships with clients and intermediaries and becoming the first person they call – for everything.
The worst (or most nerve wracking) part is putting yourself out there and doing interviews like this. It’s completely out of my comfort zone however, it’s an important part of raising the business’ profile and I like challenging myself to do things that I’ve not done before.
If you weren’t in the wealth management industry, what else might you be doing?
I’d love to say something alternative and creative but unfortunately, I’m neither of these things. So, I would have to say a criminal defence or human rights lawyer (think Ally McBeal for those of you old enough to remember). I felt that by being a lawyer I could somehow help prevent miscarriages of justice (plus the money wasn’t bad either). After studying professional exam after professional exam in my early career, I took the plunge and started my LLB while in full time employment as a director of a bank-owned trust company. My proudest achievement is getting a first…having sat my final only three weeks after giving birth to my first son.