24 Mar Meet the Team: In Conversation with…
David Downing COO Joslin Rhodes Lifestyle Financial Planning Ltd
What were your career ambitions growing up?
I didn’t have any. It was only after I started working in the telecommunications sector my career aspirations took root. It was an industry with a lot of opportunities, so I worked my way up to general management. I’d like to say I set my sights on something in the beginning, but I really didn’t, things just came along, and I grabbed the opportunities.
Who are Joslin Rhodes and what do you do?
We specialise in financial and retirement planning, helping people who’ve worked all their lives and are now starting to wonder – “When can I retire?” and more importantly – “Am I going to be okay when I retire?”
We guide them by asking – ‘What do you want from retirement?’ rather than simply giving them transactional advice. It’s our job to help answer their big questions and show them everything’s going to be okay.
How was Joslin Rhodes formed?
The company was formed almost twenty years ago by Neil Parker and started life advising on all the things you’d expect from a financial adviser – mortgages, insurance, etc.
However, when the pension regulations changed in 2015, people had the freedom to choose what to do with their pensions. Neil realised there were people who hadn’t needed to make these decisions before and a new approach, which didn’t focus on transactional products, was needed.
So, he created the PLAN HAPPY process, which asks those lifestyle questions first – “What does retirement look like for you?”
PLAN HAPPY is the process we take our clients through today.
What’s your proudest moment?
In life it’s that I played Mozart in Amadeus on stage, and honestly, I was terrified of doing it. But I loved it. It was such a fantastic role.
In business it’s the outcome we get for the clients. We’ve had some clients who’ve worried themselves sick for years about retirement. When they finally reach out to us, we get to see their beautiful emotional journeys. They stop worrying and realise – “Yes, everything is going to be okay.”
What makes Joslin Rhodes different to other Financial Advice firms?
When you walk in the door you can see we’re different, it’s very relaxed and homely.
However, the main reason we’re different is our starting point isn’t financial transactions, it’s more about – “What do you want to do? What do you want your assets to do for you?”
A lot of people limit themselves by saying- “I’m going to retire therefore I’d better stop spending.” And, when we’ve ran the numbers there are times we say – “You can spend more if you wish, you’re fine.”
It’s the focus on the person rather than their assets that makes us different.
How has the Financial Services industry changed over the last ten years?
In my father’s day you’d hit a certain age and start drawing money from your company or private pension, when you died it disappeared. You’d live your life around that income, that’s just how it was.
The 2015 changes meant everyone could access their pension pot from 55, but any value over a certain amount required financial advice.
This meant a lot of working people now had to get financial advisers and many, like my siblings, had never needed one before, so this was difficult.
It’s our job to present all the information and advise on individual circumstances so everyone can make informed decisions.
Tell us about the Joslin Rhodes team?
We’re just like every other family, we’re a mixed, diverse and fun group.
I’ve worked in many companies with core values, but you struggle to see them exercised. The one thing I love about this place is anyone can recite our core values:
- We tell it like it is
- We simplify to empower
- We champion the human outcome
- We give warmth & comfort
- We put WOW in everything we do
But more importantly, we live them. They’re mainly about our clients but also about ourselves, they’re part of everything we do.
What’s the best business advice you’ve been given?
It was personal and business advice. When I was a young man, my father introduced me to the poem If by Rudyard Kipling, and his advice was – “If it’s going great or it’s going bad, every month just read that poem and it’ll put things into perspective.” And I still do.
It talks of treating triumph and disaster the same. It talks of balance. There’s always something for the situation I’m in at any moment where I can point and say – “There’s the balance.”
What does the future look like for you and Joslin Rhodes?
At some point, I’d probably say I’ve achieved what I wanted. But there’s things we’re trying to achieve here I’d really like to be a part of and be able to say – “Yes I helped make that happen.”
For Joslin Rhodes, I see normal people like my brother and sister walk out of here content with their questions answered. And it’s this we want to take to more people. Recently, we opened our Newcastle site and are looking at further satellite sites. We’d like to take what we do to as many people as possible.
What do you do when you’re not at work?
I’ve been involved with the theatre since I was 26 and currently with The People’s Theatre. I just love that place. I’ve done acting, directing, set building, working behind the bar, publicity, you name it.
And I’m afraid I’ve become a box-set junkie. It’s dangerous to watch that first episode because eight hours later you’ve gone through them all. If there’s an addiction that’s it, but I’m trying to cure it.
What’s your recommended read?
A book that always takes me into a world of fantasy is Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings. The first time I read it I was 11 and understood about an eighth of it. Every time I read it, I see something else, it’s a fascinating book.
Business wise, I’d recommend Traction and Rocket Fuel by Gino Wickman. They’re books that show a set of concepts to help leaders improve their businesses. We use the EOS system here and I’d recommend those.