Interview with Ava Gallagher

What attracted you to work at Highvern?

Highvern’s unique proposition had appealed to me for some time before I joined. The company’s commitment to the highest quality levels of service and creation of bespoke and tailored solutions aligns perfectly with the type of service I have always strived to provide to clients. I also have a keen interest in how technology is used, not only to streamline processes and increase efficiencies but additionally to provide enhanced service delivery to clients. Highvern has a truly unique approach to utilising technology which stood out for me from day one. The team were able to strip administration right back to basics and question “why do we do it the way we do it?” to ensure the service works at its best to benefit the client.

What does your role at Highvern entail?

I am an Associate Director in Highvern’s London office and my two key roles are building out the UK proposition and expanding our Corporate Services offering. These two roles are pretty far reaching with high levels of responsibility which definitely keeps me on my toes and means each day is extremely varied and exciting! I am involved in developing all aspects of the offering – client services, business development, marketing and improving internal processes.

Corporate Services can mean different things to different people but at its essence, it can be boiled down to; working with great clients, building strong relationships and solving complex problems. I have always loved the variety that client facing service and driving internal projects brings and this new role gives me the opportunity to stretch the boundaries of my creativity.

What is the most challenging aspect of your role?

The biggest challenge I face is one which isn’t unique to the financial services industry – earning my place in the sector as a woman. Whilst diversity and equality is improving, we need to encourage all organisations to be adopting goals of diverse representation and still have a long way to go before true equality is achieved, particularly in the boardroom.

As this is a topic that I feel very passionate about, I became a member of Women on Boards, an organisation which exists to support its members of all levels of board experience into board positions and to develop their careers.

I am pleased to be part of Highvern, an organisation co-founded by a female, Naomi Rive, who is also a leading expert in her field. Highvern can also proudly claim to have more than 50% female director representation which really drew me to work with them. I am proud to be a woman making a difference in the industry and also part of an organisation setting a fantastic example.

What do you see as the key challenges for the sector?

Keeping up with technology! Machine learning, robotics, AI, AR, VR, big data, crypto, blockchain… next thing we know, a flying DeLorean will pull up outside!

In just one year, the entire world transitioned from telephone conference calls to Whatsapp to Zoom to Teams and sometimes it just feels impossible to keep up with the multitude of ever-changing technologies available. I think it’s essential to always keep your finger on the pulse, be open minded and quick to adapt to new technologies. It’s not just the ability to use technology, it’s also having the right mind set and understanding that technology is both a disrupter and an opportunity.

It has always been important to me to keep an eye on the current digital trends in our market and beyond. I have always ensured that technology and the integration of technology into our ways of working has been a key part of my role. This is becoming increasingly important across all sectors and the finance industry needs to keep up, as technology and digital operations become more accessible and readily available.

One day, a black swan event will inevitably occur and change the entire technology landscape of the industry. As a highly innovative, tech savvy company, Highvern is in a unique position to deal with and help our clients capitalise on this ever-changing environment.

What is the greatest change you’ve seen in the professional/financial services world?

Over the last 10-15 years, the administration market has seen significant consolidation of service providers. Traditionally, many of the administration firms had been borne out of banking, law and accountancy companies. However, the industry has seen a real shift with the majority of administrators spinning out on their own and/or being acquired by larger amalgamations of companies. The introduction of private equity into the industry has resulted in what was previously a large number of smaller players becoming a small number of huge players.

I firmly believe that great client service is of utmost importance and should be at the core of all decisions an administration firm makes, be it PE backed or independent. The narrowing of firms in the market makes it ever more important to select the right partner for your business. Highvern, as an independent owner-managed business is adaptive and nimble, allowing us to offer a truly bespoke service to clients and the opportunity to grow together.



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