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60 second interview with Jane Pearce, Butterfield

26 August 2020

April French Furnell

Citywealth spoke to Jane Pearce, Group Head of Trust at Butterfield, about starting a new job just before Covid-19 struck, and how business has been far from usual.

Tell us about your role.

As Group Head of Trust, I’m responsible for 270 people across seven jurisdictions. My role includes assessing the strategic plan for the business and creating our value proposition, which outlines how we support our clients, the sectors we’re looking at and how we want to develop the products and services we offer. I also serve on the group executive committee, so part of my role looks at the broader business as well as the trust operations.

It’s a position that would normally involve quite a lot of travelling but, as you can imagine, not a lot of that is going on right now. I joined Butterfield on 3 February, and these first six months have probably been the most unusual of any job I’ve had.

 

What does a typical day look like for you?

What has been typical since I started may well be different post-Covid. But generally speaking, each day starts with a virtual huddle with my executive team, to discuss what happened yesterday and what we need to achieve today.

The next thing is to sit with my PA and go through my diary for the day, what’s changing, and if anything has come in overnight that’s important. My day starts early with Singapore and ends late with the Caribbean, so things often happen during the night that need my attention.

Then I typically meet with my chief operating officer to discuss any issues. The rest of the day usually involves committee meetings and then late evening it’s clearing e-mails and addressing whatever has happened during the day and getting ready for tomorrow.

 

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

We have a broad client base and jurisdictional footprint, so the challenges are very different depending on who we’re working with, whether it’s a family office, a pension fund or in an employee benefits trust situation—this is particularly the case during Covid-19. Geographical areas also have different issues and challenges; we’ve worked extremely closely with our intermediaries and advisers on a client-by-client basis and, as a result, I think we’re coming up with more bespoke solutions than ever before.

 

Tell us about a recent project.

I’ve only been here since the start of the year, so all the major projects I’ve been involved in have centred on Covid. We went into crisis management planning shortly after I arrived—making sure our business continued to run effectively and efficiently.

In Guernsey alone, Butterfield has over 300 employees and we had to work out how to split the office and move people around, so if one building went down we could still effectively work from another. Then we made sure we had enough kit so employees could work properly from home. That was a massive task.

 

Do you have any top tips for working from home?

For me it was about getting into a routine and being disciplined about starting and finishing times—otherwise you can find yourself at eight or nine o'clock still at your desk, which isn't good. This also means running your diary like you normally would.

I’d certainly recommend getting out and doing some exercise and not staying home all day; and make sure your animals aren’t in the room during Zoom calls!

 

What is your proudest professional achievement?

I like to have people in the business who want to do well and who enjoy coming to work. I love it when I see them go on to develop their own careers. I think my proudest moment is hearing about an informal reference I was given when joining Butterfield. The person said that I would go through a brick wall for my team, but equally they would go through one for me.

 

Who do you most admire and why?

It may seem rather random, but Coco Chanel. While she didn't always get everything right—which is only human—she did a lot to help the advancement of women. She was entrepreneurial and a businesswoman while still looking after her family. And her clothes most definitely empowered women to dress well and with confidence.

 

Favourite travel destination?

I’m fortunate in that I’ve travelled a great deal and have visited some amazing places. I love New York and have been many times and have great memories, including for my 40th birthday when I had an absolute ball! As a complete opposite, if I was going somewhere on my own, it would be the Alps; I love the fresh air and the beauty, and being on a mountain is good for the soul.

 

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

I have a really good friend who’s always nagging me to set up a property development and management company. She’s very artistic and has bought lots of properties and done them up—she does a fantastic job. So, with my financial background and her flair I think it would be amazing to set up a company, find properties and do something special with them—giving somebody a beautiful home at the end.

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