Firing Line: Richard Parkin

Daniel Liberto

Richard Parkin’s defining career moment came in October this year when his employer, Fidelity Worldwide Investment, approached him about becoming the force behind its push into the retirement market. Defined by Mr Parkin as “a dream job” and “the biggest career opportunity I have ever had and probably ever will have”, he compared his appointment as head of retirement to becoming chief car designer for Rolls-Royce.

According to Fidelity’s new retirement man, the asset management firm opted to focus on this particular market after 18 months of strategic reviews into its operations by acquiring Annuity Direct. He said the conclusion of this analysis was the realisation that years of helping customers accumulate wealth must now be matched with a service that guides them on what this money is often used to finance.

Mr Parkin said: “Fidelity has always been good at helping people accumulate wealth, but not in how to manage retirement. A couple of years ago we ran a poll and two-thirds of our assets are being saved for retirement. It is a very big issue for most of our investors.

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“The retirement market is something we have been looking at for a long time and in the past 18 months we have seen a significant increase in interest. People need help at retirement and we are very keen to support advisers to help develop their at retirement needs.”

Mr Parkin has been at Fidelity for 12 years and before his promotion was previously head of proposition for the firm’s defined contribution and workplace savings business. When asked why he was the best man for the job, he responded that his investment expertise and familiarity with Fidelity’s product development gave him a massive advantage over external candidates and those with more sales expertise.

As should be expected of anyone considered for such an important role, one thing Mr Parkin does not lack is ambition. Despite still being at the very beginning of his tenure, he is already rubbing his hands together at the prospect of beating competitors and improving what he sees to be a stagnating market.

Some have been scratching their head at Fidelity’s decision to enter such a crowded sector, but Mr Parkin said there was plenty of opportunity for providers who presented a different and more effective approach. Overall he explained that Fidelity will seek to add a more personal touch to at retirement wealth management by consulting with the customer first and not focusing solely on the capabilities of its products.

He said: “I think there are huge opportunities for firms in this market to cover a different approach to the problem. This isn’t about products but customer needs. There is not a provider out there who is focused on these needs. Most providers talk about how great their products are, whereas what is really important is helping customers manage their total income sources.

“If you are an insurance company selling annuities, you are by definition product focused. We have a broader relationship with our customers, which means we can have a more elicited view on what they do.”