Guildford is one of those quintessentially British towns, set against the North Downs and boasting a picturesque cobbled high street, writes Suzie Bliss.
The March Hare, on South Hill, a stone’s throw from the high street, also has the makings of a quintessentially British pub, with open fireplaces, exposed beams and tweed-covered bar stools. Although we learn that despite the current interior, this establishment used to be an Italian restaurant.
Today’s venue has been chosen by Kate Nathoo, client director at Thesis Asset Management. Nathoo has been at Thesis for the past 17 years, based in the firm’s Guildford office. She also plays a pivotal role within the local wealth management industry, acting as president for the CISI South branch, a position she was appointed to in September 2016.
Getting settled at a table in the restaurant, where I notice a good portion of Guildford’s older generation seem to be out for their weekly lunch, Nathoo is keen to talk about education and feels there is a gap in the industry.
‘More could be done on the client education side,’ she states simply as we idly hold our menus, too engrossed in conversation. ‘Whilst we do as much as we can with current clients in terms of explaining investments and reporting,’ she continues, ‘I believe that this could be helped by teaching students about personal finance from a younger age in school.’
The client director is very proactive when it comes to this issue and works closely with the younger generation. Through the CISI and Thesis, she has gone into schools and worked with groups of students to raise their awareness on saving and personal finances.
‘One exercise we do is to ask students what they buy weekly; for example, if they buy a coffee twice a week, then work out how much that amounts to a year,’ she explained. ‘They’re shocked to find out it’s around £300. It helps them think about where to spend and importantly, where they can save.’
Thesis also hosts students on the CISI education project. Last year, their students worked on a project looking at how Brexit could impact on financial services businesses.
The waitress comes over to take our order, but with a flurry of the menus we apologise with the age-old ‘sorry we hadn’t got round to looking yet’.
After we both glance down briefly, conversation turns to the client side.
Here Nathoo and her team have to do some learning of their own; understanding what their clients want and what they really need.
‘Working with clients is about really understanding their goals, not necessarily just monetary goals like a divorce or the sale of a business, but their life goals,’ she stresses.
‘We act as clients’ trusted advisers, and if we can understand their life goals, we can build an investment plan that will help them achieve the returns they need to support that.’
The poor waitress returns for a third time and we finally order: mackerel for Nathoo, bouillabaisse and beef bourguignon for me.
Nathoo is an ambassador for working with clients rather than for clients.
‘We work hard to build trust with our clients and that takes a long time. You’d be surprised at how much listening we do and should do. We really get to know people,’ she says, and notes also how the industry has changed throughout her career.
‘The wealth management industry has evolved from being “you give me your money and I’ll sell you a product” to “I’m going to get to know you and what is suitable for you”, which is a very positive transition.’
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