We spoke to Lee Robertson, founder and director of Octo Members, about launching the private social network for financial services professionals.
Tell us about yourself
I was previously founder and former CEO of Investment Quorum, having firstly been a serviceman and Past Master of the Guild of Entrepreneurs. I’ve worked in financial services for many years, and I was delighted to launch Octo in 2018 alongside Andy Brown, Rob Page and Jon Rocchi.
How and why did you launch Octo Members?
We wanted to create a cross-spectrum forum, so we’ve got IFAs, paraplanners, wealth managers and fund managers, and the idea is that we showcase best ideas and best practice between each other.
It was also launched to help create relevant content for, and by, our users. So much is now produced within the industry that we are drowning in it, and we wanted to create a forum whereby we had really high-quality content and really good engagement.
We also wanted to put our members in charge, and the app lets them tune out of the different feeds if they don’t want them.
What we didn’t want to create was one more forum of IFAs talking to each other, and we thought it was better to get other people involved – like paraplanners and fund managers – as well as IFAs, so it’s been good to see that working.
How has the pandemic changed your working habits?
On the plus side, it’s not been a bad time to have a digital platform, and the fact we’ve started before the pandemic was helpful.
However, what the lockdown has meant is far more competition, as everyone is now trying to access or build digital communities.
What positives have you taken from the whole lockdown experience?
We’ve all learnt that we can be productive working remotely, and that’s helped everyone gain better work life flexibility.
What does success look like for Octo Members?
As a community we don’t have specific targets, but we hoped to get to 3,000 engaged members as a long-term goal, and as we hit our second anniversary we are just a few away from that which is great, so it has grown very quickly. We also have a nice mix in there – we are currently around two thirds client facing or buy-side.
What does our industry get right, and what needs improving?
Where we’ve got things right this year is that the advice industry has responded very well to this latest challenge caused by the pandemic. Advisers have risen to the challenge and continued to deliver great client service.
In terms of what still needs work, we still need to see the regulator taking far more proactive action against the miscreants.
There are still too many scams and scandals, and it often takes too long for these things to be shut down, so they need to take action on that.
Is there a book or podcast that is essential reading/listening for your industry?
Neil Bage’s Bitesize Behaviour is a must listen to podcast. The direction of travel for advice is going to be driven more by behaviours going forward and this is a great entry level podcast to help get your head around the topic.
Who makes the industry/sector better and why?
Mark Polson. He is thought provoking, humorous and incredibly knowledgeable, and puts a lot of effort into informing and supporting the sector.
If you could give a younger version of yourself one piece of financial advice, what would it be?
Be more adventurous with your investments when you are younger.
What would you do if you were head of the FCA for the day?
I would instigate a much better early warning system, based on actual intelligence, to alert people to scams.
What is the one column or website that you read every day?
I use Linkedin every day.
What would you do if you received a windfall of £10,000?
I’d put it towards my first foreign holiday after restrictions lift and have a great time in the sunshine.