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A conversation with Alison Parry and Marie McNeela, Intertrust

31 October 2019

April French Furnell

Citywealth spoke to Alison Parry, Head of Private Wealth in Guernsey and Marie McNeela, Managing Director of Intertrust Guernsey to discuss evolving as a business, looking for growth in unexpected areas, and the importance of its people.

Citywealth: Tell us about your respective roles.

Alison: I am responsible for the Intertrust Guernsey Private Wealth offering, primarily overseeing the day-to-day management of the team, developing and implementing strategy and leading the business development initiatives for Guernsey.

Marie: As Managing Director of Intertrust Guernsey I look after the management and oversight of the office. I also get to be involved in many other things, such as implementing our global strategy for tech and innovation which will have a real, positive impact on our client service, as well as helping lead our private wealth, funds and corporate teams. Most importantly though is two things; I am still involved with client work across all service lines which I love, and I hope to be able to continually have a positive impact on our employees locally.

Citywealth: Alison, can you tell us more about your leadership approach and style.   

Alison: I do my very best to listen closely and to have empathy with staff and clients alike. This hopefully helps me to make good decisions and to lead the team to my best ability.  I enjoy mentoring and developing leaders of the future and I’m invested in the personal success of my whole team. I definitely have a collaborative style – I think everyone has good ideas and every opinion is worth listening to. It’s so important for people to know that they can make an impact at work and hopefully working with me, they know that they can.

Citywealth: Name three factors that distinguish your company from its competition.

Alison: I can’t answer this without saying our people – they are not only fantastic to work with and help create such an enjoyable environment, but their commitment to client service is just ingrained in them, it’s the biggest priority they have. It makes me proud that they partner up with clients and help navigate them through the complexities they are facing.

I’m also excited that as a group, we are investing so much in technology solutions for the future. We’re seeing clients coming to us with truly unique situations now and we’ll be able to tailor make a tech-based solution to manage their needs, with a client portal that gives them access to their information whenever they want it.

Intertrust has been around since 1952 but in Guernsey you can trace our beginnings back a lot further. It means we have all of the experience and knowledge that we need to guide clients within a jurisdiction known for being well regulated, high quality, stable and professional.

Citywealth: What issues are clients grappling with today?

Marie: In every area of our business, increased communication platforms has meant the need for faster response times, faster reactions and the ability to provide reporting and data accurately but most importantly, immediately. Enhancements in technology have sometimes left the financial services market behind but broadly, it’s catching up. Not just with consumer technology but also B2B, which is fantastic for us. We now operate in a world which is more global, more instant and more demanding than ever before and adopting the right technologies in this landscape is the only way to continue to be at the front of the line.  In parallel, increased regulation transparency over the years is something we welcome and whilst it increases the risks to our business it also reduces the global risk to our clients. Clients are looking for simple solutions to ever more complicated situations and we have the ability to provide that.  

Citywealth: What are the current challenges you face as a business to deliver client service excellence?

Alison: Excellent client service is key and communicating with clients to ensure they understand the value of the ever-increasing regulatory requirements can present a challenge. Regulation isn’t a bad thing – often it’s there for the protection of all parties involved and Guernsey is a very well regulated, first class finance centre.  

Understanding the cultural drivers within a multijurisdictional client base is interesting and our multilingual team (ranging from the European languages to Russian and Mandarin) really helps us have a better understanding of these different cultures. 

Finally, dealing with different client preferences for methods of communication.  Some prefer the personal service; phone calls and face to face meetings whilst others lean towards purely email communication or accessing their information via our online portal. It’s fascinating to see how the world is evolving with communication and, being truly global, it’s great to be part of a Company who can meet those changing needs.  

Citywealth: Has your service line had to adapt to meet clients’ expectations?

Marie: Absolutely – we are always adapting to clients’ changing needs. Most recently we’ve seen more technology solutions being implemented. We can now bespoke build solutions for clients’ needs and give them a portal where they can access their data whenever they want, from wherever they are. I think this is just the beginning and we will always need to look for new advancements to provide clients with what they need and how they need it. A person’s expectations will change in line with global trends, not just our industry. So now our level of service is being compared to every consumer brand they interact with and everyone else’s tailored products. We need to be able to provide the same and remain current in a fast-evolving environment.

Citywealth: What are the most important attributes for a trustee?

Marie: As a trustee you’ve got to be able to understand the issues that your client is facing and have the experience to offer solutions for their unique situations. In addition to this you must be technically adept, understanding the Laws and Case Law that sets precedent. We build long term relationships with our clients and that’s important to us because it means we can offer solutions which we know are uniquely suitable for them. Equally a strong trustee must have the confidence to be able to say no when appropriate, it’s as much our responsibility to advise against something as it is to recommend it.   

Citywealth: Are there plans for future growth?

Alison: It’s difficult to say we’re not looking for growth – most people are! Globally, we are acquisitive as a company in all our service lines and Private Wealth remains a key focus for us, especially in Guernsey where we have such experience and ability to service those clients. Maintaining our level of service to existing clients is a priority and demonstrating value beyond that which they might expect. We’re seeing more Private clients with structures similar to Corporates recently so maybe growth will come from unexpected areas. We’re also very active in the Middle East, Asia and South Africa and seeing increasing enquiries from these jurisdictions.

Citywealth: How are you supporting the talent pipeline in Guernsey?

Marie: We constantly review people skillsets and client bases to ensure roles are suitable and meeting client needs, whilst providing stretch, challenges and opportunity for our employees to grow. We actively seek and provide mentoring, management shadowing and opportunities to go and work in our other offices. Intertrust is a great place to work and maintaining focus on why that is, will ensure that we always are. That means prioritising our people and what’s important to them which includes many skills, even those beyond their roles. We have an internal learning platform which everyone has access to and there’s lots of topics on there including digital skills because we know this will only continue to become more important. I want my colleagues to succeed in every area of their life and if we can help that as employers, then we absolutely should.  

Citywealth: And lastly, what topics do you feel personally passionate about and how are you pursuing them?

Marie: I think it’s important at all stages of your career to have the right development goals and the opportunities to learn, shadow and try new things. I hope to provide an environment for people where we prioritise employee growth and empower our people to enhance their skills and experience. We provide professional learning options, mentoring, management shadowing and an international mobility programme which many of our Guernsey colleagues have taken advantage of. I was fortunate enough to take many similar opportunities for growth earlier in my career and it gave me such a fantastic learning experience which I can now pull on every day in my role. I want the same for all of our employees locally so that they can be successful and develop their careers.

Alison: Succession planning for the future and assisting the next generation of clients is a growing interest for me. This can be a difficult subject but it’s important to have these conversations. To do this, we encourage open dialogues with the clients themselves whilst working with their advisors to make planning for the future as painless as possible.  

I’m also really interested in sustainability – at Intertrust we are committed to the environment which I am very proud of and we have already made changes around the office, like no single use plastics and lots of recycling bins. At the recent Guernsey IoD Convention [where the topic was Climate Change: Can Guernsey Clean Up?] we learned a lot more about small changes we can make that have a big difference to the environment around us, and especially living and working in such a beautiful place, so close to nature, I think it’s important to us all.

*Intertrust were sponsors of the Spotlight on Guernsey newsletter

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