Get to Know the Team: An Interview with Lucy SmithFeatureAugust 3, 2020

Lucy Smith, private wealth director in our Guernsey office, shares her recent work, the challenges facing her clients and how she manages her relationship with retail property clients during these tough times.

Tell us about your role:

I am a director in the private wealth team, working with high net worth clients in the commercial and residential property and private and public company investment sectors. 

Walk us through a typical day in the office:

Like many in Guernsey, my day starts with a dog walk and a cup of coffee!  On arriving at the office I will firstly check my emails for any urgent matters that have come in overnight.  I will then review my ongoing tasks, discuss transactions with my colleagues and then prioritise current transactions and review work amongst the team.

Tell us about a recent interesting client instruction:

Most client instructions are interesting so it is difficult to pick out just one.  I think that the most recent “new to me” instruction was a challenging scenario where a family wished to split out their family trust into separate pots in order to invest in very different ways.  The trust deed had been very tightly drafted and as such we needed formal local and UK counsel legal advice to find a way via the Courts to vary the trust deed to allow the split as well as working closely with expert tax advisors to ensure that all tax aspects were managed as carefully as possible.  It was a really good experience to dig really deep into the drafting of the trust deed and some of the finer points of UK tax legislation.

What is the most challenging issue your clients are facing currently, and how are you helping them overcome it?

Every day is very different and poses a variety of challenges.  Over the last few months, it has been really interesting dealing with our portfolio of retail property ownership structures going through the COVID-19 pandemic and having constant dialogue with the property managers as to how best to manage the threat of rent deferments and various inevitable CVAs of some tenants as well as negotiating lease re-gears and rent free periods to try to ensure that the structures remain as strong as they can during these tough times.

What is your proudest professional achievement to date?

I think it would have to be the journey through the industry from work experience up to director and the number and variety of clients I have been fortunate enough to work with along the way.

What do you consider to be the most important attributes of a good leader?

For me, it’s all about working as a team, bouncing ideas around and brainstorming potential solutions.  If you can build trust and a sense of value amongst your team then the leadership will naturally grow and you have buy in.  The other hugely important part of being a leader is having the ability to seek advice and not being afraid to ask questions.  No one has the answer to everything!

When and how did you begin your career in financial services?

I studied Business Law at Bournemouth University.  The course included a year of industry experience.  At that stage, I was unsure as to whether I wanted to continue in law and so took the opportunity to come back to Guernsey to undertake my placement in a trust company.  I enjoyed the variety of the job, the aspect of assisting and protecting families with their wealth and learning about the vast range of investments out there.  I was offered a bursary to return after completing my degree which I accepted.  The rest, as they say, is history and I’m still learning every day.

What interests you most about your work?

The variety of the work.  The vast array of investment opportunities for large and small structures, getting to know the clients and their families and learning how best to manage their affairs.  Some will be completely hands off and some will want to be really involved.  It really is all about relationships in this business and developing a bond with your clients so that they trust you to look after their affairs.

In your opinion, how has the industry/profession changed from when you first started?

The industry has changed massively since I started out in the late 1990s.  The industry has of course become incredibly well regulated with the introduction of beneficial ownership registers, CRS and FATCA reporting requirements, GDPR and much more detailed anti-money laundering legislation.  Clients also demand a much higher level of service and seem to appreciate more and more the relationship they have with their trustee.

If you weren’t working within financial services, what else might you be doing?

I have always really enjoyed working on property so maybe a conveyancer or a surveyor or architect perhaps.

Where was the last place you travelled for work or pleasure?

For work, it was a meeting in London with an old client who was looking to wind up their structure.  A long dinner followed at Langhams! For pleasure, I have recently spent 3 amazing nights in Sark with my partner.

How do you relax after a long day and what do you do in your spare time?

My spare time is very much a combination of dogs and water sports with a balance of eating and drinking! We purchased stand up paddle boards over lock down and I am attempting to learn to surf. 

Inspirational quote/words to live by:

Be yourself!