We asked Lee Robertson about his role, the most successful changes he’s made to his business, and what he’d love to change about the FCA’s perception of the profession, if he could.
What do you like most about your role?
The variety of interaction with so many great people across financial services and financial planning in particular. It was a big decision to sell Investment Quorum, the financial planning practice I founded to the team, but the time felt right. I wanted to do something a little different after around 30 years in advice.
Co-founding Octo allows me to continue to learn from and engage with those who are still on the front line of providing great advice to the public.
What’s been the most successful change you’ve made to your business?
In terms of my time as a financial planner it was to go early to fees rather than commission, to use a platform, and to achieve higher level qualifications.
Nowadays, these are all pretty much business as usual, but once upon a time they were key differentiators, and I was lucky to have incredibly generous leaders in the profession to emulate and learn from.
With Octo, which is a joy to be involved with, it is very much being able to have a very lean team using primary and supporting technology to help run things as efficiently as possible.
What’s the best piece of tech you’ve introduced to your business?
The platform we operate Octo upon, Mighty Networks. Incredibly powerful, malleable and a great user experience.
My co-founder, Andy Brown, and I really like working with them. Having taken the trouble to go and meet them in Palo Alto we secured agreement for lots of customisation to accommodate the way we wanted it to work, and we enjoy a strong relationship with them. It’s interesting to see other communities in financial services have followed our lead by using them.
If you could change one thing about the profession, what would it be?
If I’m looking backwards to my career as a financial planner, then it would be the perception of the regulator. I appreciate they often see the worst, but the trouble with that is they rarely see the best. The professional, intellectual and, at times, pastoral support good financial planners deliver to their clients is genuinely humbling.
The best rarely receive any recognition of this from the regulator, Treasury or the Government.
What would you be doing if you weren’t doing your current role?
I would love to be a photographer, but I’m not sure I have the talent or patience. I work hard at it as an amateur, but I also see how hard photographers have to work to make a living as there are several co-located in the workspace we have with Octo. I think I drive them to distraction with my constant questions!
What one word sums you up and why?
Curious. Take that as you will! I love learning, interacting with people, setting off down rabbit holes of knowledge. This is all wrapped up in my highly competitive nature which seeks to understand and be the best I can be at the things I get involved in.
Which three people would you invite to your dream dinner party?
This is a tough one and would change each and every time I am asked, but at the time of writing I’ll focus on my interest in politics and business.
Dr Thomas Sowell, the venerable US economist, historian and commentator who is something of a contradiction, a libertarian iconoclast.
Angela Merkel, a leader of conviction who oversaw the orderly transition of a reunited Germany and helmed the EU, which is some feat.
Elon Musk, the eternally fascinating and challenging entrepreneur.