Interview with Alistair Butt, By Gillian Wilson
You have joined Strabens Hall as an Executive Director – but what does your working week look like in this role?
“My appointment to Strabens Hall was to play a part in developing and implementing their future expansion plans, so in the first few weeks we have spent some time putting the finer details of the business plan together, and we are now at the finishing stage with that. Moving forward, there are two main focusses. One is to harmonise the structure and management of the front office team, which includes advisers, marketing and business development. The other is to press forward with a fairly ambitious recruitment programme, which is likely to be quite time consuming in the short term. Alongside this I am working with the team on a number of projects, which includes marketing, client propositions and additional service offerings.”
What are your aims and ambitions in this role for Strabens Hall?
“Strabens Hall is a very high quality, boutique adviser with an almost unique position in the market place. Quite rightly, they are seeking to capitalise on this positioning, and my aim is to build on the firm foundations that my colleagues have spent many years creating for the business. “
How does your role here differ from the one you held at Brooks Macdonald?
“At Brooks Macdonald there tended to be an emphasis on client facing relationships, even for the most senior management, which carried with it the risk of being distracted from focussing completely on business matters. My role at Strabens Hall takes client facing out of the mix, which allows me to fully direct my attention on developing the business side of the equation. “
Is it true you came out of retirement specifically to join Strabens Hall? Please explain!
“This makes for a good headline, but it’s not completely true! When I ‘retired’ seven years ago, it was an opportunity to have a refreshing change, spend some valuable time with my family and embark on a couple of property development projects. It also gave me the opportunity to reflect on my work experiences, and use some of that wisdom and experience to informally help a few friends with developing their own fledgling businesses. I’m not sure I really expected to re-enter the financial services arena, but when the role at Strabens Hall was proposed, it was obvious that I still had a passion for the industry that I had spent most of my career in, and that there was a golden opportunity to capitalise on my previous experiences – both good and bad! – to help the team at Strabens Hall fulfil their own business ambitions.”
How have you adjusted to getting back to working life?
“I have always been an early riser, so there are no real challenges there and, as previously noted, I haven’t been completely idle, so it’s less of an adjustment than one might assume. That being said, I have only had my ‘feet under the desk’ for 3 weeks, so I could still be very much in the honeymoon period! My wife is also incredibly supportive of this latest ‘life change’. Of course it is a change for her too, as I am no longer at home every day, but you would need to ask her if she thinks that’s a good thing or a bad thing!”
What’s your opinion on work/life balance, considering the impact of COVID on most people’s return to work?
“I was fortunate enough not to experience the challenges that a lot of people had to face with COVID, and the impact it had on both work and home life. Coming into the work environment, even at the tail end of restrictions, has shown me how incredibly well companies and individuals alike have adapted to the restrictions and the imperfect world in which everyone had to keep working. The by-product of COVID restrictions has meant that working at home is now a very viable option, where it may previously have been discouraged by some employers. There is clearly more time efficiency, especially if there are lengthy commutes involved, and those time savings can be spent enjoying down-time a little more, so that’s a good outcome. It doesn’t really answer the question about work/life balances, especially as that is a very different priority from person to person, however I do think COVID has made many people focus much more on the bigger picture in their lives.”
What lies in store for Strabens Hall in the next 3-5 years?
“The business plan has a significant trajectory over the next 5 years, and the focus of the entire team will be on achieving this. Strabens Hall operates in a niche market of very high net worth and international clients, but in which there is still plenty of scope to build a considerably bigger business. As our business continues to grow, our reach, reputation and profile will also increase enormously, which all adds up to a very exciting journey ahead!”
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