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60 second interview with Gavin Wilkins, Hawksford

8 December 2020

April French Furnell

Citywealth spoke to Gavin Wilkins, Global Head of Client and Intermediary Relationships at Hawksford about thinking on your feet and admiration for the main man of this time of year – Father Christmas.

 

Tell me about your role.

As Global Head of Client and Intermediary Relationships, I lead commercial and strategic initiatives within the Group and work alongside Hawksford clients internationally, particularly those with cross-border interests from the Middle East and Asia-Pacific. I also lead our overall approach to working with complementary service providers and how we build meaningful commercial relationships which benefit our clients. My role is, to a great extent, cross jurisdictional and cross service line so I get involved with corporate, fund and private wealth matters across the Group. Typically my role requires a fair degree of travel to support our clients’ global activities although, in the short-term, this has clearly been significantly impacted by COVID.

 

Talk us through a typical day from the moment your alarm goes off…

I normally try to get an early start at home to check emails and schedules and start a few things moving for the day ahead. An early start really helps with Asian markets due to the time differences involved.  After that calm start, things tend to get frenetic - trying not to fall over pets whilst juggling multiple bags, homework jotters and packed lunches before embarking on the school run!

Thereafter a typical day will include varying combinations of calls and meetings with colleagues, clients, potential clients and intermediaries. I also find it valuable to carve out time on a regular basis to keep on top of developments in our key markets and to reflect on the various strategic initiatives which are on the go or in formulation – to make sure that I can still see the wood for the trees!

Whilst these components are all a given, the unpredictable demands of uncertain times tend to mean that I need to be as flexible as possible and constantly reprioritise. I really enjoy the variety and unpredictable aspects of the day.

 

Tell us about a recent client instruction.

We’ve had quite a few interesting instructions recently including some large family succession-based structures. I suppose that shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise as the pandemic has caused us all to reflect to some extent on some of the more difficult “what if?” questions. Given our strong footprint in the region, we are also working on a number of interesting Asian related investment structures in the corporate and funds spaces.

 

What challenges do your clients face and how are you helping your clients to overcome them?

Global uncertainties throws up multiple challenges for clients and, let’s face it, the last few years have been extraordinary. We’ve had election surprises, trade wars, BREXIT and we even had a World Cup without Italy! Now we have a global pandemic to contend with too. In this kind of climate it is more important than ever to keep in touch with clients and to be on-hand to discuss emerging challenges as they arise and be part of an effective solution.  And sometimes of course, one of the challenges clients face is making the most of an opportunity!

 

What is your most memorable work moment?

In what has been a rather strange year, my most memorable work moment for 2020 occurred at the start of October taking myself, my colleagues and my dog by surprise. Having failed to get that early start, the prospect of incomplete homework jotters and empty lunchboxes meant that I was rather sprightlier going down the stairs than I should have been. Half way down I collided with my devoted pet cockapoo, who was enthused by the prospect of beating me to the bottom. Ultimately she failed and my broken arm was marginally less painful than the embarrassment of having to explain the story to my colleagues. That alone though was not what made this a memorable work moment – rather the support, generosity and kind hearted humour of colleagues which reminded me how lucky I am to work within a genuinely happy office and with such a great team.

 

Best and worst parts of your job?

I very much enjoy going into potential client conversations where you don’t quite know what is coming and you have the opportunity to think on your feet, work out viable solutions and make relevant introductions. One of the best parts of the job is the feeling you get from completing a deal or finding and delivering solutions to clients that you can tell have added value to them. The worst part is probably having to type with one hand for a month because you fell over your dog.

 

Who do you most admire and why?

At this time of year, there can only be one answer – Father Christmas. Consistently meeting annual deadlines whilst remaining jovial and maintaining the most hectic travel schedule imaginable is impressive enough without having to contend with being the reporting line for several thousand elves. And I bet Father Christmas never trips over his reindeer on the way down the stairs.

 

If you weren’t in the wealth management industry, what else might you be doing?

I flicked a coin between studying law or accountancy at university so perhaps I could have ended up being a lawyer. As a child I always fancied being an archaeologist, probably because I watched too much Indiana Jones. But in my case it wouldn’t be the snakes I’d be wary of – more likely the errant cockapoos!

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