Partner, Genoa Wealth Management LLP
You can’t control the wind, but you can adjust your sails: the metaphorical motto of Genoa Wealth Management is inspired not only by Partner Douglas’ love of sailing, but by his dedication to assisting clients on their life journeys.
Starting his career as a Firearms Officer in the Edinburgh Police, Douglas diversified and accumulated 25 years’ experience in private banking and investment advice. He is now harnessing his experience in financial planning to help people withstand the unexpected on their entrepreneurial voyages.Connect on LinkedIn
Was there a lightbulb moment that prompted you to start your own business?
The light bulb moment is actually something that I've thought about with a lot of clients. What often holds the entrepreneurial spirit back is the fear of what if it doesn’t work. My motivation for starting Genoa was to take away some of that fear and enable people the enthusiasm to be entrepreneurial.
If you've got a destination in mind, that's great, but the wind can change direction. The important thing is having somebody with you on that journey, who can adjust the sails and make changes so that you're still heading in the right direction.
What are you most hopeful about right now?
The need for financial advice before 2020 was already quite high, and now people seem more willing to talk because they're looking at planning for what the new future might be.
I’m optimistic that people are open to discussion. Some people can be slightly fearful of financial advice, because there's a lot of jargon and myths. My job is helping people understand that it's not that complicated, it's all about the journey, and having a plan gives you flexibility, choices and control.
How important is it for you to maintain a high level of insight on macroeconomic issues for your clients?
The financial advice market has changed massively over the last 20 years and it will continue to evolve. Part of my role is to stay up to date with the macroeconomic picture. I'm very aware of what's happening in the world generally, and around particular areas like taxation and how that may affect clients. I need to be aware of everything that's going on, so that I have an idea as to how it might impact clients.
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"If you've got a destination in mind, that's great, but the wind can change direction. The important thing is having somebody with you on that journey, who can adjust the sails and make changes so that you're still heading in the right direction."
Is there an important issue that’s not actually being talked about as much as it should be?
In the sphere of financial planning, I do have some worries about younger generations not planning for pension and retirement; that’s going to start to hurt a bit further down the line.
People are living longer and that gap between when you stop working and life expectancy is growing. That needs to be funded and that’s what we do in terms of putting plans in place; it’s no longer necessarily a pension, it could be investments or property.
There’s also a much bigger move to running your own business now. If you worked for a large company years ago, you got a pension with it. If you’re self-employed that doesn’t naturally happen.
How important is it for your business to have an impact on issues like that?
I’m trying to inform and educate about financial planning with younger people. I go into schools and educate children on basic financial planning, budgeting and looking after your money.
If we can educate younger school-age children, that discussion is easier to have when they graduate from university or leave school and start working or set up their own business.
"The need for financial advice before 2020 was already quite high, and now people seem more willing to talk because they're looking at planning for what that new future might be."
Is there something that not many people know about you?
Purely for fun, I’m a qualified wine taster. What I love about wine is that wherever you go in the world you will find somebody locally making wine and they are always chuffed to talk to you about it. For me, it’s all about where wine comes from. It’s lovely visiting vineyards, the owners will talk to you all day about their wine, you meet some great people. Most vineyard owners are not wealthy, contrary to popular belief, they’re local farmers making their way in life.
Who do you find inspirational?
The yachtsman Alex Thompson, because he doesn’t see a series of problems when sailing, he just sees it as a series of things that need to be done. It’s a completely different mindset. I find him fascinating and quite an inspirational person.
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