Kerry Nelson, founder of Nexus IFA, recently won Money Marketing’s award for Adviser Personality of the Year. We caught up with her to ask her about her business, the changes she’s made to it, and what she’d change about the profession if she could.

    What do you like most about your role?

    I’m in the lucky position of having two roles that I enjoy so much. 

    My first is as an adviser to so many wonderful clients, and the greatest part of that role is seeing them achieve not only peace of mind but long-term financial security. It’s enormously rewarding and the old phrase that ‘friends become clients and clients become friends’ has never been truer. 

    My second role is that of CEO at Nexus IFA. I’ve always been a campaigner for fairness and a meritocracy in financial services. It’s my greatest wish that all employees enjoy a healthy, encouraging, engaging, workplace – somewhere where they really want to give their all, and feel a sense of ownership and fair reward. It’s a lifetime’s work, but I feel we’re far along the right path in realising my vision for Nexus. 

    What’s been the most successful change you’ve made to your business?

    The last two years have been transformational for Nexus following the acquisition of Thames Valley Investments, but once the dust had settled on that, we felt that we needed a new identity and a fresh approach to set the dial going forward. 

    So many financial services firms stand still, but we had momentum and capitalised on that by moving to new landmark offices overlooking Portsmouth Harbour and then undertaking a massive rebrand. 

    The result of the move and the rebrand gave everyone such a lift that I would say it has completely changed the outlook and ambition for the business. We’ve been able to engage with local firms far more easily and we can see a very bright future ahead of us as a modern, progressive, no-jargon financial advice business with our own internal investment solutions. It’s a compelling mix and we are all excited for what comes next.

    What’s the best piece of tech you’ve introduced to your business?

    During the Covid period we doubled-down on our back-office technology stack to create a two-way client portal that ended up being a vital tool for client engagement when we couldn’t meet face-to-face. 

    The automation that the system provided, and the daily reconciliation, made those conversations, at very worrying times, so much easier to handle. 

    In addition to this, we also wrote weekly missives to our clients and these became such a valuable source of engagement and trust that we actually came through the pandemic with far stronger client relations and new business referrals.

    If you could change one thing about the profession, what would it be?

    The jargon! Why does everyone in financial services like hiding behind jargon? It’s not big, and it’s not clever. And it does the industry such a disservice. 

    We’ve been active campaigners against jargon for 30 years, and we’ll continue to break it down and speak in plain English as that’s what 99% of clients understand. We speak openly and honestly to our clients and they appreciate that. It’s how the industry should be all over.

    What would you be doing if you weren’t a financial adviser?

    I think the most likely route would be in the not-for-profit sector, perhaps at a national charity or non-government body.

    I’m passionate about seeing young people succeed and so something related to working with youth or school-leavers would be probably where I would imagine myself. It’s why we support so many local causes, schools, universities etc and it’s why I became a Patron of the Prince’s Trust. 

    What one word sums you up and why?

    Determined. The simple reason is that since starting my career at 16 at Barclays bank in Portsmouth some 30 years ago, I’ve had to overcome so much stigma and sexism, not to mention numerous glass ceilings, that without determination to keep going, to keep striving and keep innovating, I simply wouldn’t have got to the point where I am now.

    Determination drives me every day – a determination to do better for clients, a determination to do better for staff, a determination to take on the financial services industry and succeed. 

    Which three people would you invite to your dream dinner party?

    Charlie Chaplin – because he would be so funny.

    Nelson Mandela – just to sit in the great man’s company and hear his wisdom.

    Audrey Hepburn – I’d love to talk fashion with her!

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