It is the On the Road team’s first trip to Dundee, so we thought we would share some facts with you from our visit, writes Eleanor Mahmoud.
Dundee is known for the three J’s – jute, jam and journalism. By jam they mean marmalade and by jute they mean a vegetable fibre used to make thread. It is the birthplace of legendary comic books The Beano and The Dandy, it also has a booming video game industry and will soon have the UK’s first design museum outside London.
With our new-found knowledge, we arrive in Dundee to see Suzy Thomson, assistant director at Brewin Dolphin. Her office is located in an attractive spot near the harbour. We stroll a few doors down to Porters Bar & Restaurant.
We like to indulge in local delicacies on our travels, so it only seems fair to kick-off lunch with some hearty deep fried haggis balls to accompany the Irn-Bru on the table.
Thomson was born and brought up in Dundee, studied at its university and lives here now with her husband and two young children.
She started working at Brewin Dolphin as a trainee investment manager 11 years ago and was made an assistant director three years ago.
‘I am fortunate to have been in this role for a long time as it means I have built and maintained truly long-term relationships with clients. Often they ask me how my children are before they ask how their portfolio is,’ she says.
The majority of Thomson’s clients are based in or around Dundee, but she tells me she has some in Australia and Germany too.
Thomson studied accountancy, but explains that her course was quite diverse and covered some work in portfolio management. ‘This was the area I was really drawn to,’ she says.
Thomson joined Brewin Dolphin straight after university and having been there for more than a decade, it has given her a wealth of experience.
‘I had only been working at Brewin Dolphin for a couple of years when the financial crisis hit. Looking back, this was such a learning curve and great exposure for me.’
While understandably daunting for any young investment manager, Thomson was not fazed and is enthusiastic as she says: ‘I’m glad it happened early in my career as it allows me to show clients what happened then and how it can help us now.’
Having devoured the haggis, our next course of Scottish salmon is brought to the table. We tuck in and talk turns to the team in Dundee.
Thomson works in a close knit team of 12, where an equal ratio of investment managers to financial planners helps them to meet the holistic needs of their clients. Brewin Dolphin has £37.8 billion of assets under management across the group and regular contact with others across the company undoubtedly has its perks. ‘If you need to find something out, someone somewhere will know about it,’ she says.
Lunch draws to a close and we are certainly a table of full stomachs. We ask Thomson if there are any local phrases we should know and before she could even draw breath, she spouted out a phrase in strong colloquial Scottish. Dumbfounded, we had to ask her what it meant.
‘It is a local children’s saying we have, which translates to English as “two plain pies and an onion one as well!”’
We agree it seems quite laborious to write down this saying in its local dialect, so instead I ask what kind of pub Thomson’s office would be.
She replies: ‘Brewin Dolphin in Dundee would be a good quality, local pub with friendly and familiar faces.’
Glass half full: ‘The industry is heading in a positive direction. Regulatory changes have been beneficial as it increases levels of transparency. There has been a change from where we’ve come from to where we are now and it has been to the clients’ benefit.’
Glass half empty: ‘There is not a lot for savers at the moment. We keep thinking we’re getting closer to interest rates rising, but then nothing happens. Markets are fragile during political uncertainty, so interest rate decisions get put back.’