PRIVATE WEALTH INTERVIEW SERIES, STEFAN LE MARQUAND, ASSISTANT MANAGER AT HIGHVERN
How did your move to Highvern come about?
When I joined Highvern, I was looking to become a part of a growing business which was independently owned and managed. By doing so, I knew that not only could I put myself and my ideas forward and be heard, but also learn about all different facets of the business, and the wider industry. I strongly believe in the concept of open collaboration and discussion between departments as this facilitates building internal networks and better businesses for the future.
A promise that I made to myself before joining Highvern, was that I wouldn’t let my industry detract from the person that I am. By recognising that, and pairing myself with a business that adopts that same mentality, I truly believe my passion for the industry as a whole has had chance to flourish.
What is your proudest professional achievement to date?
Being recognised by ePrivateClient as one of the Top 35 under 35 across the Channel Islands and the UK. This was a huge honour and really grounded me to believe more confidently in my own skills and abilities. It presented me with opportunities to network and gave me the confidence to break the ice with contacts and clients alike.
Since winning the award it has only prompted me to keep striving for better. Whether that be for myself, my clients, or just to make a more significant impact in the world of my work.
What attributes do you feel are important for a trustee to have?
I think the most important thing to remember, is that anyone who works as part of a trust & company service provider, is ultimately a Trustee in one way or another. Whether you are a Director or an Assistant administrator, or if you work in IT, everyone has a part to play in building the strongest relationship with the clients. One thing that has always stuck with me is a former tutor who told me: “You’re never just a trustee, you are someone’s trusted advisor and in some cases, their closest confidant”.
As for the defining attributes of a Trustee, one the most important traits is to always be adaptive and sometimes even reactive. More often than not, as you build a relationship with a client, you will be exposed to highs and lows which a trustee should be able to justify, simply and rationalise for a client. Other times you may hear about sensitive information relating to family relationships and a trustee should be respectful and mindful in how they manage the structure going forwards.
More than anything else though, a trustee should be personable. People connect with people. Our clients want to be able to put their faith and trust in like minded people who also have that professional manner about them.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone thinking about becoming a trustee what would it be?
Being a trustee can be one of the most rewarding, and challenging roles. Whilst you can summarise the general tasks into a job description, it is next to impossible to be able to fully prepare yourself for some of the experiences. It is not always a quick path to becoming someone’s trusted advisor, and there are often ups and downs throughout the journey, but with every turn there is a moment of pride and satisfaction, or a moment for growth and learning.
There are two halves to being a trustee, and one is being loyal. Not just to your clients, but also to the firm. Find a business where you feel like you are heard and valued as a member of staff, and you will naturally put your best out for your clients too. By sticking with it, you will deepen those relationships and networks and soon find yourself moving through the business and growing with it.
What is the most enjoyable part of your role?
Being able to showcase not just a certain set of skills, but also myself. If you had asked me 5 years ago if I would ever have worked in the financial services I would have said never, because I thought it would stifle my creativity and sense of self. But looking at the position now? That could not have been further from the truth.
I know that I have had to overcome certain challenges during my career, but I know that I have always stayed true to myself and with that, I have made some incredible friendships with like-minded colleagues; I have discovered more about who I am as a person and what I value; I also feel as though I have made a real difference in the industry – even if the proverbial ripples aren’t that wide.
What do you see as the key challenges for the sector?
I feel as though we have already overcome some substantial hurdles as an industry with the changes that have arisen from the pandemic. From investment shifts to the adoption of new working processes, the sector as a whole has really proved resilient.
I think that there will also be significant challenges that arise from the increasing use of technology. It’s no secret that the world is developing technological solutions at a significant pace, and when working in a client-centric industry it can be a battle to encourage usage by client and staff alike. Although there is an innate fear of change, or being made to feel redundant – we are fortunate that our industry relies so heavily on human perception and empathy – allowing us to become educators on just how powerful technology can be. As people, we can’t always be switched on 24/7, but by allowing client’s to access information and solutions on demand it could result in more informed decision making.