CompaniesMay 29 2013

Quick questions: Aviva’s James Dalby

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From trainee accountant to market intelligence manager at Aviva, James Dalby has experienced many different aspects of the finance industry. In today’s quick questions, he reflects on his time working for an IFA firm and how chilling in the garden on a nice sunny day represents his perfect day off.

What was your first job in financial services? I started out as a trainee accountant within an accountancy practice. However, I was more interested in investments and spent a lot of time learning about investment funds from one of the partners. I soon left to work in funds at a life company.

What drew you to the profession? It’s difficult to pinpoint it, but I’m just naturally interested in all things money-related.

What is the most important thing advisers (or a company) can do for their clients? Listen to their needs, problems and aspirations and then try to create products and services to fit.

What is the most important decision you have ever made? Probably taking 10 years away from the product provider side of financial services to work in a research-led and investment-focused IFA firm. It gave me huge exposure to a range of different life offices, fund providers and journalists, which helped me get a more rounded view of the profession and what we’re here to do.

How do you think the industry has changed since you started working in it? It has become a lot more competitive, both in terms of price and the range of participants. I also think, on average, people’s technical understanding is much better – perhaps due to the increase in professional expectations, but also the proliferation of information available via the internet.

Other than property, what is the most expensive thing you have bought? A car. In fact, my very first purchase on eBay was a car; I bought an Audi convertible unseen. When I arrived at the seller’s house, some 60 miles away, I was quite nervous as buying something in this way was very much against my usual approach of researching things to the death before taking any action. It turned out fine!

What is your perfect day off? Great weather, no jobs to do at home, kids at school – chilling out in the garden.

What would you tell your 10-year-old self? You’re on the right track.

Who would you recommend as a must-follow person on Twitter? Henry Tapper @henrytapper – an interesting and amusing authority on all things pensions.

What do you have set as your homepage in your internet browser? Really! I tend to check-in on market activity via the FT three or four times a day.