OW Spotlight Edmund Wilson

Stanley '89

Leader of the Finance COG

Tell us about yourself

Having had a thoroughly enjoyable time at Wellington (S 1985 – 89), I went straight into the Army (after a mini-gap year spent partly working and partly sailing in the Caribbean).  I served for 21 great years in the Army as an Irish Guards officer, with operational tours in Northern Ireland, Iraq and Afghanistan.  On leaving the Army in 2012 I went head first into my current role as a financial adviser.  I run my own business under the umbrella of St. James’s Place Wealth Management.  I’m also married with 3 children, am an expert skier, an average sailor, a keen but not particularly accurate game shot and a mediocre but enthusiastic fisherman.

What inspired you to work in Finance?

I enjoy helping individuals and families to move towards their future goals; in short, to “embrace their tomorrow”.  My job is about making a complex financial system simple for clients and to help them look into the future with clarity.  It’s all about people and their goals, as opposed to being specifically about money.  True, their finances are a focal point, but there has to be a goal in mind, and I try to help bring those to life.

How did you get to where you are today?

Wellington made me resilient and determined, which are 2 traits that we all need no matter what we do with our lives.  The planning skills I learnt in the Army have also been fundamental to my business success.  Also, the St. James’s Place Financial Adviser Academy, which I attended, is a first rate career change programme, and really helped with the transition from the military to the world of personal finance.

What advice would you give to students/young OWs who would like to join the profession?

Think what area of finance you want to be involved in since it’s such a broad profession.  Being an accountant, for example, is very different to being an institutional equities trader, a job in corporate finance, audit, or indeed a financial planner.  Think about what it is that “flicks your switch” and then narrow down your search from there.  Be willing to start at the bottom and show your brilliance as you work upwards.  Network ruthlessly as well.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

This quote was stated by the former South African President F W de Klerk at a conference I attended as he discussed his relationship with Nelson Mandela.  Apparently, Nelson Mandela stated that “If you are regarded as a person of integrity, you can achieve anything; but without integrity, nothing worthwhile can be achieved”.  It’s my mantra when dealing with clients.  I can’t go wrong if my integrity stays intact, but without it, well, it’s a recipe for disaster.

What are your career highlights?

In the Army, it was the 6 months I spent in southern Afghanistan.  We fought hard, but also intelligently.  We had real success, and militarily defeated the Taliban in our area.  Sadly, after a lot of blood lost by us, our predecessors and our successors in that area, our gains have disappeared, which is heart-breaking but I remain very proud of the work we did to help the local population.  In my current role, my highlights come regularly; there’s a real pleasure in telling a client that they have reached “financial freedom” and are working by choice rather than as a requirement.  More personally, seeing the capital value of my business grow is exciting, given that 10 years ago it was just a 2 page business plan.

Where do you see yourself in 5/10/20 years?

I’m actively working on the succession plan for my business.  I’ll still be working hard in 5 years, will have sold a portion of my business in the next 10 years and will be fully retired in 20 years.  I’ll have more than enough to fill my time, with work in the garden, skiing, sailing, fishing and shooting.  At the moment, work gets in the way of my hobbies too much and I aim to change that…

Do you have a fond memory from your time at Wellington you would like to share or perhaps a particular teacher that really stood out?

There are many.  I was a long term member of the Field Gun crew, loved playing in the 5th XV, and had great fun on Hawley Lake for a bit of sailing & windsurfing.  I also enjoyed climbing and mountaineering trips to Symonds Yat, the Brecon Beacons, Glencoe and the Swiss Alps.  Playing clarinet in the Premier Band was always fun.  Given the number of happy memories, it seems unfair to single out particular staff.  I also made some great mates, with whom I am in periodic contact, but we know we can be there for each other if needs be.

Thanks to Edmund Wilson (S 89) for this spotlight piece.