We asked Cathi Harrison to tell us more about her role, the most successful change she's made to her business and what she'd be doing if she wasn't running the Verve Group.
What do you like most about your role?
It might sound clichéd, but the fact that it never stops changing.
I never get chance to get truly good at my role as, as soon as I'm starting to find a bit of a rhythm with it, the business will move to a new level and I need to learn a whole bunch of new skills in order to support it.
I've never run a business until this one, so there’s no previous experience to lean on for each new phase – it's just about figuring it out as I go along – and I love that.
What’s been the most successful change you’ve made to your business?
It's still early days, so I hope I'm not counting my chickens, but we’ve just gone through a huge restructure, to de-layer all the complexity that had built up across four separate limited companies, to make it easier for firms to engage with us, and easier for the team to grow and progress in the career paths that most interest them.
It hasn’t been an easy thing to do in the slightest, but it has positioned us for the next phase (Verve 2.0 as we’re calling it) so I’m hoping that will be the foundation of our future success.
What’s the best piece of tech you’ve introduced to your business?
We’ve always built our own, from our project managing system in Para-Sols (Rise) to the industry-breaking compliance technology in Apricity.
It blew my mind that compliance was still being managed with files and spreadsheets and calendar reminders – it's crazy.
Apricity has helped advisers to control their compliance through tech, and both systems have massively helped us control and manage workflow internally. However, we’re now looking at those pieces of software as part of Verve 2.0 and there’s something pretty special in the pipeline...
If you could change one thing about the profession, what would it be?
I used to have a very lengthy list of things I’d like to change about finance, and it’s far from perfect, but I also think it’s important to recognise the progress we’ve made so far.
When I think how the industry was when I started in it 17 years ago and some of the nonsense I put up with, it feels like a whole new world we’re in.
Change isn’t fast, and I think most people in finance are aware of the issues and working hard to evolve them, and that’s amazing.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing what you’re doing?
Running a wine business! Just as finance should be more accessible to more people, so too should wine. Finance shouldn’t be about stuffy middle-aged men in grey suits, and wine shouldn’t be about pompous 70-year-old men in tweed suits. Plans are underway...
What one word sums you up and why?
I’m going to be kind to myself, and ignore the helpful ‘suggestions’ from my team and say ‘innovative’. I thrive off hunting out new ways of doing things and am the very definition of reinventing the wheel.
Which three people would you invite to your dream dinner party?
It would have to be someone fascinating, someone hilarious and someone hot (if only there was a single person that encompasses all of these!) There'd be room for some friends too.
So I'm going to go with:
Dave Grohl – that man has some interesting stories to tell
Sean Lock – I assume we’re allowed to bring people back from beyond the grave and I couldn’t watch a single Sean Lock moment without an immediate grin
Chris Hemsworth – Thor. Enough said.