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Career Spotlight – Alasdair Walker

What is your name?

Alasdair Walker

What is your occupation?

Chartered Financial Planner and managing director at HA&W

Where do you live?


When did you start your career in finance? How did you get into it?

I wanted to get into financial services in 2009, and applied for all manner of “entry-level” roles at financial companies – I remember applying at NFU Mutual, Aviva, some of the banks.

I landed a mortgage underwriting role at HSBC, which was an interesting starting point. The “risk management” view has stuck with me.

I persuaded the bank to pay for a couple of CII exams despite them not being core to my role, and was planning to move into their financial planning arm via the branch network.

An offer came to join what was then Martin Bown Financial Services, owned and run by my uncle, as a trainee.

I made a leap, which involved moving 80 miles away from home, friends and family, and have never looked back.

With hindsight, it was a canny move. Shortly before 2013 HSBC closed its mass-market financial planning arm, making the entire function redundant!

If you could start your business again, what would you do differently?

I joined a business which is now 41 years old, but has been reimagined multiple times in its history. With a fresh start I would simplify the proposition, focus on the areas we excel, and not bring along the clients that don’t fit that model. We feel a strong sense of loyalty to our longstanding clients, even if they’re not quite the right “fit”, and so are happy to make compromises to make it work for all parties.

What would be your biggest piece of advice to someone coming into the financial planning profession?

Don’t be afraid to ask for time from people you respect and admire. This has been the single biggest benefit for my career, and it took years for me to realise that people are very often happy to share time, experience, expertise, contacts, if you only ask. Be prepared to “pay it forward” in the future, too.

How would you define your personal mission?

To improve consumer access to high-quality financial planning provided by ethically-minded businesses. On a micro level, that’s via our business. On a macro level that’s via my involvement with the PFS.

How would you define your personal vision?

To leave anything that I’m involved with in a better state than I found it.

How would you define your personal values?

Competence, credibility, compassion

What is your greatest achievement outside of work?

Without sounding too much like a cliché, my two children are a constant source of surprise, amazement and love.

What is the greatest book you have ever read that helped you in your career?

I am a massive reading geek (watch out for a newly renewed book club starting soon), but the one that has stuck the most is Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. The book is the authoritative starting point for behavioural economics/decision psychology, and will genuinely change the way you think about thinking.

What is your most valuable asset of being a NextGen Planners member?

I bloody love Nextgen Planners. The Slack is great, the conferences are always top notch, but the friendships I have made via the community are probably the biggest asset for me.

(Only answer this one if you truly want to…) Who is your favourite NextGen Planners member?

Genuinely there are too many to be able to single out one. I guess I’d have to say Adam C and Rohan if pushed, as without them the community wouldn’t exist.

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