Penny Lovell, who has been CEO of private wealth at Sanlam UK since September 2017, talks to Lauren Mason about dealing with clients during lockdown, the further surge in ESG investing and what she has learned from the pandemic.
What first attracted you to the wealth management industry?
I had always been very interested in finance and investments. My mum was always a big investor and always loved the stockmarket, so I was heavily influenced as a child.
I was always having to monitor the newspapers or Ceefax to tell her what was happening to any stock at any particular time.
Then, after university, I did the graduate milk round and the jobs that interested me most were in financial services. I was lucky enough to get onto a graduate training programme at Friends Provident [now rebranded to Royal London], which was great fun.
That is why I became an IFA, but I also spent a lot of time on the investment side, so I learned a lot about fund management too.
I always thought I would work in television production or journalism initially, but I fell in love with the industry as a graduate and I didn't look back.
In September, it will be three years since you joined Sanlam UK. What attracted you to the firm and what have you enjoyed most during your time there so far?
Last year, I oversaw the entire programme of acquiring Thesis [Asset Management] and moving those clients over. That is what has excited me since joining Sanlam - watching the business expand and grow.
I also love the client side of my job; I am passionate about investing and I like that I can be the voice of the client; to make sure we do what is best for them and consider their points of view.
Since the Thesis acquisition, we now have a really great national spread of clients.
In this sense, lockdown has been very interesting because it has forced us to engage with clients digitally.
We have come up with new client communities and did so almost immediately - whether it was launching our series of online webinars, seminars and updates which we run every two weeks, or whether it was bringing ourselves and the clients together through their interest in cooking, fitness or wine - we have created some brilliant online communities that has meant we can maintain that close relationship with them.