Ben Lomas (1988-1994)
Ben is Private Client Director at Brown Shipley Banking in Manchester
What were your favourite subjects and who were your favourite teachers at School?
I favoured the sciences over the arts, so choosing Maths, Physics and Chemistry in the Sixth Form was an easy decision. I even took Further Maths which was fairly rare at that time. When I look back there were some great teachers, but Colin Chambers and Alan Prince were really passionate about the subject and that’s crucial in helping you learn.
What further study have you undertaken since leaving School?
I studied for a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering at Durham University and then the Securities Institute Diploma once I started my career, which took around two years to complete.
What does your job involve and how did you progress to your current role?
I manage investment portfolios for high net worth clients including private individuals, trusts, pensions and charities. I also work with colleagues from specialist departments to ensure investments are in keeping with that client’s particular circumstances, long term objectives and the risk they are prepared to take.
I started my career on the dealing desk of a traditional stockbroker during the dot.com era, which was a great learning curve. Once fully qualified, I was able to build up a portfolio of my own clients.
Who/what influenced your career choice?
Definitely my family. I used my dad’s account at the local stockbroker to make small investments in penny shares when I was at School. This was before the Internet, so I had to use Ceefax and the Sunday Newspapers to carry out my research.
Who/what has been your biggest inspiration?
When I was still at School, my family met a couple who owned a Ferrari and I was treated to an impromptu ride as a passenger. The husband explained how he’d spent years building up his business and it was a great example of the rewards available through hard work and commitment.
Which skills do you consider to be essential for your job?
There are numerous. You have to be competent with facts and figures but confidence is essential when you are presenting, building relationships, making investment decisions and relaying information to clients, particularly in tricky market conditions.
What do you like most about your job?
Without doubt it would be the interaction with clients. Every one is different and will have specific views on risk, their objectives and how involved they want to be. The more you know about that client and their family, the better job you can do but this also means that over time you build a good relationship beyond just managing their finances. Clients put a lot of trust in you and knowing their investments are being well-looked after will give them peace of mind for the future.
What is your biggest challenge in your current role?
The stock market can be extremely volatile. In the 16 years I have been in the industry, we have seen the dot.com bubble, the financial crisis and more recently, issues in the Eurozone and China. We would always advocate a long term strategy with good quality investments but more than ever, portfolios need to be actively managed to protect against short term volatility and to take advantage of opportunities as they arise.
What do you consider to be your greatest career achievement?
Last year I pitched to manage the investment portfolio of two large charities in the North West and was successful in both cases. All my clients are equally important, though it is particularly rewarding when you perform well for a charity as the financial implications can have a significant impact on the lives of the people the organisation is trying to help.
How did Bolton School help you to be successful in your chosen career?
In two ways. From day one, you are taught not only what to learn, but how to learn. I didn’t have the option to study Economics at School, but converting from an engineering degree to a career in Private Banking was easier because of this.
Secondly, I work with various other professionals including solicitors, accountants and financial advisors and it should never be underestimated how highly an education from Bolton School is regarded even after you have long since left.
What advice would you give to our pupils interested in your field of work?
Without doubt, try to get work experience whilst in education. Good grades will get you an interview, but real world knowledge shows initiative and could provide the edge in getting the job.
Did you enjoy speaking with current pupils at the event?
Absolutely. Starting on a career path is what all your years of education are for, so the more information you have the better, and having the opportunity to hear from someone directly and ask questions is invaluable.
Of course, it’s always interesting to revisit the School for a World of Work event or careers evening and seeing how things have changed.