Women in Business Series: Gillian Bardin

With International Women’s Day on March 8, Bottomline online asked five women in business to share their experiences of the current economic situation and how they are driving their business forward. Today we feature Gillian Bardin, managing director, Taylor Patterson Group Ltd.


How has your organisation performed in the past 12 months?


There have been many changes to the way the UK financial advisory market is governed and run in the last 12 months, and the major challenge for us at Taylor Patterson has been to plan and respond to these developments.


Against a backdrop of change and market uncertainty we’ve worked hard to deliver an excellent quality of customer service, while also reporting positive financial results.


We’re pleased to say that our efforts have been recognised: last year the Financial Adviser publication (part of the Financial Times group) named us the best financial advisers in Preston.  We are particularly proud of this recognition as it was judged by a ‘mystery shopper’ who could have been any member of the public calling for advice.


Our management team has come together to adapt quickly to changing market conditions, standing us in good stead for the next 12 months. We have already been able to evolve our service in light of these changes: we now have a new and innovative service proposition for our clients, and are one of the first financial advisers in the country to do this.


And the outlook for 2012?


The Financial Services Authority has announced major changes to the industry next year, through the Retail Distribution Review (RDR). This includes the scrapping of commission-based charging on financial products, which will have a big impact on the way in which we, and all firms in the industry, operate.


At Taylor Patterson we are implementing the new requirements, which also include a higher level of qualification for all financial advisers, a full 12 months early. The other big development this year will be pension auto-enrolment, which will mean that pension provision via an employer will become the norm.


Has your management style changed as a result of the recession?


Continuously improving and developing is important for all managers, and last year I graduated from LEAD, a leadership development programme at Manchester Metropolitan University.


It was an intensive, ten-month course, which covered management issues ranging from increasing profitability to developing leadership skills and diversifying and growing a business. It was an excellent learning experience – it gave me an opportunity to reflect on my management skills and has highlighted the importance of adapting my style to the situation.


Has the recession taught you anything new?


In business, through both good times and bad, there are always new challenges and experiences which offer learning opportunities. Recessions take this a step further, though, and really do test the strength of conviction of individuals and businesses to make tough decisions and see plans through to completion.


At these times, strong and focused leadership and a skilled, motivated team is particularly important in order to turn challenges into business opportunities.


What has been the best piece of advice you have ever received?


While it is a cliché, the saying ‘turnover is vanity, profit is sanity and cash flow is reality’ has stood Taylor Patterson is good stead and has never been truer than in these challenging times.