Bright Spark Q&A – Richard Clark

Richard Clark, a Chartered Wealth Manager at Barclays Wealth Management, discusses his career so far and the short and long-term objectives of the organisation

What led you into your chosen career?

A variety of circumstances lead me to my career in Wealth Management. At times I can’t believe that I have been advising clients here in the North East approaching 18 years!

Throughout my education I seemed to have an aptitude for dealing with numbers with one clear exception whilst at college. I remember vividly completely failing a statistical-based test so badly it made me even more determined to really get to grips with the subject. That in turn led me to study Mathematics at University before applying my newly developed statistical knowledge in my first career designing databases and running statistical reports for a Market Research company.

I was there around 18 months and enjoyed the challenge but soon became frustrated that someone else was responsible for reporting my findings to the clients. So, I was fairly good with numbers and knew I wanted to interact with people.

That is when an opportunity arose at what was then Dickinson Dees in their Investment Team. I was initially one of four graduates appointed and while studying and gaining professional qualifications, I was fortunate enough to be given exposure to some real life clients!

I spent an enjoyable 10 years with the firm before deciding to move on to Barclays Wealth Management, primarily due to the fact I am able to offer clients a much wider array of services and ultimately help them in more ways.

Who or what has made the greatest impression on your career?

Several people have really influenced my career and attitude over the years.

As a young boy I can remember being in awe of my granddad and his work ethic. He would often be up and out by 4am and not return home until tea time. I think, being a local boy with strong values, he really influenced my thinking at an early stage and I try and to replicate his work ethic on a daily basis.

I have also been fortunate enough to have some great managers and colleagues in all three of my roles all of whom have influenced my career to varying degrees.

A much loved and sorely missed mentor was a gentleman called Nick Lever. Although we had mainly a professional relationship initially, it developed into a wonderful friendship over the years. Nick was always the first person I turned to when I wanted to chat through anything in respect to my career, and I could always count on him for a very balanced perspective.

Another gentleman, who shall remain nameless as I am sure he would be ‘terribly embarrassed’ (but he will know who he is!), has probably directly and indirectly influenced my career more than most since around 2003, when our paths crossed during his time working as a consultant. We instantly hit it off and not only do I consider him one of my mentors, I am proud to also consider him a close personal friend.

Briefly, what does a typical working day comprise for you?

One of the many advantages of working with clients in a Wealth Management role is that no two days are ever the same.

Some days I will be in the office early, either for client meetings, seminars, or simply to review clients wealth with a view to providing advice. Whilst others I will be out and about meeting clients and contacts, sometimes across the North East with clients as far afield as the Borders, North Yorkshire and also over in Carlisle.

I look after a small number of clients in London so I try to get down to The City at least once every few months but can often find myself in other Barclays Wealth offices such as Leeds, Birmingham and also London for internal meetings.

When I am in the office I tend to find myself working until around 7pm, sometimes later, before getting home in time to see my two sons briefly before they go to bed.  On the occasions I miss bedtime we make use of FaceTime!

What does your company/organisation do and how is it making an impact?

Although Barclays is a huge organisation, interacting with one in two adults in the UK in some shape or form, I am a Wealth Manager in our Wealth Management team.

Our primary objective is to support our clients with all of their wealth management needs, however our role is so much broader than this. A significant milestone with clients is when they call you to discuss non-financial issues, simply for your views or opinion. You really appreciate these calls as they tangibly demonstrate that they view you as their trusted advisor.

In terms of financial advice, we cover a significant number of areas from banking and credit through to wealth structuring and complex investment solutions. I think a key skill that I share with all of my colleagues is the ability to really listen to our clients, to understand them, often to ask questions that other advisors don’t ask, to get an overall understanding of them and their goals.

Once we have this we can access the breadth of our offering, not only just wealth management bit the wider Barclays teams covering personal banking, business banking and also corporate banking in order to meet the clients needs.

As well as supporting clients and adding value we try and make an impact in other areas through our citizenship agenda, for example through our Lifeskills program and various fund raising initiatives.

What are your company short and long-term aims?

Our short term aims are to remain focused on supporting our valued clients whilst also raising our profile and the general awareness of what we do in the local market.

We are delighted to have recently added two new Wealth Managers to our Newcastle team in the form of Peter Wagstaff and Chris Wade, so another key focus is to ensure these colleagues are integrated as quickly as possible so that we can continue to grow.

Another constant aim is to continue to develop our people and improve our offering in the widest sense, so not only in respect of the Wealth Management team but also the wider Barclays group.

Again, on an ongoing basis we aim to adapt quickly to change whether this be regulatory or demand driven, and hopefully we can continue to play a key role in shaping both the financial services industry as a whole but also more specifically the local wealth management landscape.