(Pictured above: Alex Foster, left, Stephen Jacques, right)
On a wet and dreary Thursday afternoon, I ventured into Miller and Carter’s Steakhouse to meet Stephen Jacques, director at Tilney in Glasgow, writes Alex Foster. Greeted by the decadent rouge interior and the hum of soothing jazz, I asked Jacques to give me a run through of his path to his role today.
A born and bred Yorkshireman, Jacques graduated from Huddersfield University in accountancy and finance, meaning he is perfect for the investment management world, as he jokes ‘I don’t like spending money!’
Following this, Jacques (pictured right) joined Clydesdale Bank on a graduate scheme.
‘The graduate training scheme placed you in a job where the roles were graded 1-9,’ Jacques explains. ‘It was certainly interesting as they gave all of us a grade 2 job but with grade 4 pay! It was quite motivational as it meant we had to earn our promotion within two years or face a pay cut.
‘On the other hand I remember receiving my letter which roughly said ‘congratulations, you’re part of our graduate scheme – you’re being sent to Edinburgh,’ continues Jacques. ‘It was rather daunting.’
‘On 1 September 1999, I packed my worldly possessions into an old second-hand Volvo and setoff. It was the first time I had lived away from home.
‘I ended up working 11 months as a teller, it was a small branch and I was doing a little bit of everything, I was even head of security!’
As our 8oz fillet steaks arrive, Jacques tells me that his work in what he classes as the investment industry began in August 2000. After deciding retail banking was not for him, he moved to Glasgow to join the portfolio management unit of Clydesdale Bank. The bank later sold its portfolio management unit to Tilney and since moving across, Jacques heads up the firm’s Scottish portfolio management team.
In contrast to the melt in your mouth texture of our steaks, I ask Jacques what he had found toughest in his recent years at Tilney.
‘As with the rest of the industry, a lot of our time is taken up with compliance and regulation,’ Jacques remarks. ‘It’s a different world compared to the 80s, where you could open an account with one sheet of paper, or so I’m told. But I believe regulation is good for the industry, certainly in terms of fairness and transparency.’
Jacques explains that he has found technological advancements to be the most beneficial way to move with changing regulation, Tilney having invested a lot in its front office systems and client interfaces to meet these demands.
In fact, technology has become a real fascination for Jacques, especially artificial intelligence (AI).
‘AI has seeped into every facet of our everyday lives, take Netflix for example,’ Jacques expresses. ‘I heard that due to a poll of the viewing habits amongst Hispanic people in the US, Netflix increased the number of Hispanic characters in the programme Orange Is The New Black to capitalise on the demographic.’
Jacques also details his interest in blockchain.
‘With blockchain there is the power to make certain elements of normal financial transactions possible in a fraction of a second,’ explains Jacques. ‘It cuts out people and time and its potential future application is mind-blowing.
‘AI is fascinating but it won’t be the end of everything, we won’t be living in the matrix. But it could be the fourth industrial revolution.’
Fingers crossed we won’t have to get our long black leather coats and sunglasses out too soon.
GLASS HALF EMPTY:
‘Brexit. Whatever your opinion on the subject, the market does not like uncertainty and that we have in abundance.’
GLASS HALF FULL:
‘Tax reforms in the US – repatriation of funds from overseas has started to take effect and lower corporate tax rates should be beneficial.’