Firing line  

Caroline Cochrane on passing the business to her daughters

Motherly advice

A key piece of advice Ms Cochrane says she has passed on to her daughters is why it is so important for clients to trust their adviser.

She says: “Part of that is: I am not frightened to tell a client something they might not want to hear.”

Another is understanding the value of being a female financial adviser.

“I think women have a very empathetic way of dealing with people,” Ms Cochrane says. “[For female IFAs] there are absolutely no barriers. You work as hard or as little as you want. You create your business and get paid accordingly.”

Even as an expectant mother more than 30 years ago, pregnancy was not a barrier to working as an adviser

As she looks ahead, her daughters will be inheriting a business in a world not all too dissimilar from Ms Cochrane’s early days.

After graduating in 1980 with a degree in physiology and pharmacology from the University of Edinburgh, graduate jobs were scarce: the economy was not doing particularly well.

Ms Cochrane was then headhunted by a Canadian life business for a life underwriter role. At the time, there were only 312 life underwriters in the UK – and only 10 of these were women.

The company was subsequently bought by Sun Life and then in 2000, Ms Cochrane, became an independent adviser, later starting up Crandles and Co in 2010.

Impact of Covid

Although the world of financial services has become a lot more complicated since her early days, she has always enjoyed meeting with clients.

But like many companies this year, lockdown rules has meant client meetings are still being done virtually.

The peak of the crisis also put a downward pressure on ongoing fees at Crandles and Co – a situation she says has improved. 

Ms Cochrane says: “We have been able to continue and are back to where we were before Covid-19. You learn to use tech, such as Zoom, and make clients comfortable.”

She remains optimistic that markets and the economy will recover: this is not her first crisis.

“We speak to a lot of fund managers and their story is that the underlying economy has not collapsed – we have just had to unfortunately stop everything,” says Ms Cochrane.

“I have worked through bad times. It gives you confidence, when you work through times like that.

“I don’t want to make light of things like furlough. People unfortunately will lose jobs and the economy will change, but we will just evolve into something else.”

Ima Jackson-Obot is deputy features editor of Financial Adviser and FTAdviser