In our 60 second interview series, Citywealth speaks to Rachel O’Donoghue, a partner in the financial planning team at Buzzacott about juggling client demands, helping the UHNW to avoid the trends of the day, and her passion for food.
Tell me about your role.
I lead the Financial Planning team at Buzzacott, which is one of the specialist teams within the firm. We advise high-net-worth individuals and families and also offer advisory and outsourced services to businesses and charities, the latter typically offered in conjunction with services provided by other teams within the firm.
My role is a combination of advisory work and managing the team. The clients I advise are all unique in terms of their financial planning and investment management needs but what most of them tend to have in common, is that they are busy people. They often have complex situations which involve various jurisdictions and tax planning input from our expatriate tax and UK private client teams. I see my role as one where my responsibility is to deliver strategic advice and optimise planning opportunities without making their lives more complex.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I plan my days and weeks ahead of time but inevitably when working with private clients, not every day goes according to plan and the “to do list” can go out the window. Just last week, I had a day where one client contacted me to discuss urgent changes to her estate planning due to an unexpected medical diagnosis. That same day, I also had to provide advice and go on a conference call (at an hour’s notice) to a lawyer working on a mutual case where our client’s spouse had attempted to move part of their joint assets as part of what is becoming an acrimonious divorce case. I usually tend to have a mixture of meetings and working on advice to clients, as well as managing my team. As an equity partner within the firm, I am also involved in decision-making committees as well as, other firmwide responsibilities.
Tell us about interesting client instructions.
Due to the confidentiality of the work involved for most clients, it is difficult to disclose specifics. However, some interesting cases that I have recently worked on have involved completing quite complex cashflow planning and advisory exercises for clients who were due to sell their business and were planning for retirement and estate planning. I have also been involved in two recent divorce cases where in each case, at least one party was a non-dom and had US citizenship, which brings with it considerable complexities in terms of tax-efficient division of assets and ongoing extraction of income/capital. These cases usually work best when we are involved from the outset and can work with our tax team and/or those engaged by our clients such as lawyers or other professionals to plan effectively and minimise the tax and other drains on the overall wealth of the couple.
What challenges do your clients face and how are you helping your clients to overcome them?
There are many but one particular challenge that has become more prevalent in the last decade is the amount of information they receive. They are now bombarded by information from various sources whether that be through traditional news sources, social media, etc. It can be difficult for clients to separate facts from the noise. We see this being particularly prevalent in the investment arena where expensive investment options are often been marketed as being the best solution for clients. We see our clients at least annually, and in most cases every six months, and are in contact throughout the year. Through offering bespoke, disciplined, cost effective investment solutions as part of our integrated financial planning and investment management service, we help clients to understand their wealth and also how to optimise returns without buying into the passing trends of the day.
What is your proudest professional achievement?
Building and growing my team. I lead a varied group of people who each have their own strengths and specialist areas but share a common focus on our clients being at the centre of everything we do. I am very proud of the focus and empathy that they display in their work with our clients.
What do you consider to be the most important attributes for a leader?
To help bring people together who have different skills, personalities, working styles and backgrounds to work effectively as a unit. Also, to have good listening skills and not to be afraid to recruit people who have different strengths to oneself.
Who do you most admire and why?
Too many to mention but generally speaking I have huge admiration for those who have settled in countries different to their place of birth, both in recent years and over the last century. Although we live in a (relatively) stable country and enjoy the benefits of that, there are so many people who have left countries with nothing but gone on to achieve great things and contributed to the success of the countries they settled in. This has become particularly noteworthy in the current climate that exists in some countries, where only negative connotations are attached to immigration. Many of my clients and colleagues were immigrants themselves or children of those and I see first hand their achievements in both social as well as economic change.
Where was the last place you travelled to for work or pleasure?
Ireland, partly to visit family but also to travel around the beautiful coast of West Cork to enjoy the landscape and amazing food produced there (plug for Irish tourism…). Next trip is to Argentina.
If you weren’t in the wealth management industry, what else might you be doing?
Possibly either a journalist or a chef.
How do you relax after a long day?
I’d like to say “going to the gym” but sadly that’s more of an aspiration rather than reality. I enjoy spending time with my husband and friends after a long day or week and particularly going to restaurants, as food is a passion and we are spoilt for choice living in London. I may even treat myself to a glass of wine at the end of the day.