Did you always envisage a career in the industry?
PR: Certainly not. Originally, I wanted to follow in the footsteps of my Uncle Stan who was a solicitor, senior partner in a Morpeth practice and Town Clerk until his death in 1964. I studied Law in Liverpool, and whilst I obtained an Honours degree, it did not fill me with enthusiasm to carry on with the Law. Upon my return to the North East, the Norwich Union were advertising for trainee “Life Inspectors” as they were called then. I applied and was offered the job.
DH: No, I came to Newcastle to study metallurgy. My vision was to travel the world and gain the necessary
experience to become an international businessman. By way of interview experience I spoke to the Norwich
Union, delighted to be offered a role but politely told them I would think about it. My father corrected my vision and I up took a career as a life inspector”.
What is your favourite aspect of the job?
PR: I think that any financial adviser will tell you that it is dealing with people, your clients. There is a great deal of satisfaction to be had when you leave a client feeling happier and more content than they were. Giving them peace of mind in many scenarios is a great thing to be able to do. The job is wide-ranging. It is not just financial issues but can include talking about family, the business and other
personal factors. There is an element of counselling and life coaching.
DH: I am a big fan of good business process and enjoy the security it offers when advising our clients. There is nothing worse than having to revisit things that should have been done. For all the right reasons I enjoy the friendship of the people we work with and for. Honesty and integrity are at the heart of everything we do. Without them, it would be a soulless job.
What has been your career defining moment?
PR: It was probably when I returned from working in the South East to set up my own firm in Morpeth, imaginatively titled “Peter Rutherford & Co.” That was 1st April 1991. It grew to be one of the largest and most respected independent financial adviser firms in the region. I then sold it in 2008 and now have Rutherford Hughes Ltd, with my business partner, David. We met all those years ago at the Norwich Union.
DH: I am not sure there was any particular defining moment, as everything I have been involved with seems to have been an experience and in most ways incremental by luck or good management. From the Norwich Union I joined the Lloyds Broker, Furness Houlder becoming MD of their financial service company in my early 30’s. I recall no formal training but after some 16 years, working towards a flotation that became a
management buyout and a sale, I felt I could have taken on anything, and promptly did.
For some 14 years I took on what was a parochial mortgage broker and personal lines outfit riddled with
professional indemnity claims with no management structure or process. The business finished up a credible
regional player, highly profitable, with the right business ethics to provide holistic financial planning with a strong investment proposition.
It has been a delight linking up with Peter Rutherford again and I take great comfort from working with
someone who shares the honesty and integrity necessary in our industry.
How do you measure success?
PR: We have to be sensible here and say that profitability is important. Without it you cannot employ staff, invest in systems, achieve higher standards and put food on the table! It is not the only measure as job satisfaction and a sense of achievement are also essential.
DH: We are required as a regulated professional advisory firm to be solvent and have a profitable business model to ensure the ongoing service to our clients. That done, if you can smile and laugh every day, you are successful.
What have been the biggest changes in the industry since you started?
PR: Where do you start! Originally, there was no real regulation but now we have the Financial Conduct
Authority, arguably the most powerful regulator in the world. The weight of paper is formidable, and it is
a challenge to ensure that the client clearly sees and understands the relevant information, the advice and how it achieves their objective.
DH: I was tutored, so many years ago in the Norwich Union by a gentleman called Derek Boothby, sadly no
longer with us. Putting aside his great sense of humour, his defining words for me, on what it’s all about was, “utmost good faith”. It still is, but now you have to write it all down.
The industry is always changing in terms of regulations, products and tax treatment. However, a lesson learnt is stick with the transparent and straight forward, it will always see you right.
How has your skillset developed accordingly?
PR: You have to keep better records and write clear reports. Also, at Rutherford Hughes, we have created and continually monitor investment strategies to satisfy the objectives and risk appetites of our clients. Consequently, our investment proposition is a market leader.
DH: Through the regulatory requirements and the necessary recording of conversations, advice and execution, I think a lot more about business process to ensure we have the time to spend with clients.
Are you a risk taker by nature or more conservative?
PR: That depends upon how you perceive risk. I have been self-employed since I left the Norwich Union in
1982. However, I did not see that as being riskier than working for someone else. If you do not meet their
targets, you are sacked. When it comes to money, I believe in the equity markets, even now. Cash on deposit will never improve your standard of living.
DH: It all depends on who I am working with. I enjoy disruption and challenge. However, if I’m not comfortable, I am more than likely to moderate to ensure a good outcome.
To what would you attribute your success?
PR: I try and use my mouth and ears in proportion. I listen a lot. Then put the client’s interests first.
DH: I think through problems before I have to face them and for those who understand, I offer a decisive and visionary approach.
What’s your biggest weakness and how have you managed this?
PR: Over the years I have given away loads of valuable advice for free. I could have justifiably charged for passing on that knowledge. I still do it!
DH: Intolerance for the inept, misguided, dishonest and lazy. I defer to Peter who is much nicer than me.
How do you remain motivated?
PR: I just need to look at my three-year-old twins. They give me an incentive to work on several levels. I could argue that they have ruined my retirement planning. They are also an encouragement to get out of the house, especially when they are having an argument. But I am also strongly driven as a provider for them and their mother.
DH: I view our work as a way of life, I enjoy the people, the challenges and cannot think of better way to spend my time.
Would you prefer to be liked or respected?
PR: I do not think this is a choice. I would want both. I am not sure you can be truly liked but not respected.
DH: I find myself slightly ambivalent on this one. If you do not like me or respect what I do, we are not going to spend a lot of time together.