He bought the business founded 40 years ago by his father, although following in the paternal footsteps "wasn’t expected" of Adrian Murphy.

Here, he describes how he made his own journey and "worked my way from the mailroom to the top of the company and everywhere in between" in our Monday Q&A.

What is your business called?

Murphy Wealth

Where is it based?

Glasgow – with clients across the UK.

What does it produce/do?

Human First™ financial planning – that means recognising our clients needs as individuals. We advise people, not their money. We are trusted advisors, and that is earned, not given.

To whom does it sell?

Entrepreneurs, business owners, executives, and investors – and their families.

How many employees?

13 and growing all the time. 

Why did you take the plunge and what were you doing before?

Murphy Wealth was founded by my dad Brian more than 40 years ago – it was the family business. That said, I didn’t expect to join it and it wasn’t expected of me. 

I studied marketing in Edinburgh, but when my dad told me about a course in investment and risk at Glasgow Caledonian University, I signed up and that set me on my path into the industry, and ultimately the family business.

I worked my way from the mailroom to the top of the company and everywhere in between – that was important for me. When my dad retired just over 10 years ago I bought the business from him. There was never any suggestion of it being handed to me, nor did I want that. It also wouldn’t have gone down well as one of six siblings!  

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More significantly, I had my own vision for where I wanted the business to go – a more modern approach – and I needed full control to deliver it. That also required moving the business to Glasgow from Ayr, providing access to a bigger talent pool which was essential.

The result is Murphy Wealth as it is now – it’s an agile, modern, person-centric business that’s an evolution of the foundation and reputation my dad built over 40 years.

What do you least enjoy?

You probably won’t believe me, but there’s not much I don’t enjoy day-to-day.

However, the main frustrations and challenges are around finding new people. There’s a lack of talent coming through in the industry, and we’ve had to take the bull by the horns and develop our own.

It’s not a quick way to do it, but it’s the right way. I could have a much bigger business with a lot more people – but it wouldn’t be satisfying or what I wanted to do.

Reputation in our business is absolutely key, and if you do things the right way for the right reasons, rewards naturally follow. You can’t go straight to rewards – and those who try often fail.

What are your ambitions for the firm?

We want to grow, but again we want to do it right.

Our growth to date has been through word of mouth and introductions from clients – which is the best way as it means those recommending you have a stake. Over the next five years we have ambitious and exciting plans to take our unique proposition to more potential clients by acquiring other aligned firms.

We’ll stay boutique sized – we will never be a huge, faceless firm – and that’s key in delivering our highly personalised service. 

What would most help?

We’re always on the lookout for more talent. We don’t provide jobs, we build careers as that is the only way we will achieve the ambitions we have for our business. People grow the business. If we can’t get the people, we can’t grow.

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To improve the situation we need greater recognition of financial planning as a profession. It should be up there with law and accountancy as a career path. It’s a fantastic place to be and is getting much better – if universities, schools, and the government recognised that more it would help. We also need a trade body – one that represents the sector and fights its corner in the same way ICAS and the Law Society do in theirs.

What is the most valuable lesson you have learned?

How to listen properly. Two ears, one mouth, in that order. It sounds simple, but it’s a point of difference. To succeed in life planning and behavioural finance, you have to understand people and their motivations, and that can only be achieved through active listening.

Most people want to tell clients how clever they are, we don’t. Our expertise is a given from the moment they enter the door. We are Sherpas there to guide clients, not instruct them. They talk, we listen – that’s how it works. We have to understand everything about clients to know where they are today, and what their aspirations, dreams, and fears are. Then we support that with a financial plan. 

What was your best moment?

The best moments are when I am sitting with clients across the table at the point when we show them they can do all of the things they have dreamed of and that peace of mind lights up their eyes. Having money brings a new set of problems that are equally stressful for those who have it. Once they have a plan and know things will be okay – that’s the moment. Providing that reassurance is why we do it.

What was your worst moment?

When lockdown was announced in March 2020. We had to move quickly, be agile, and proactive moving the whole business online. We didn’t wait for lockdown, we got people home and set up before the official lockdown, and I’m so glad we did. Our clients were looking to us for reassurance that everything would be okay, and it was challenging to know in what were, as we all know, unprecedented times.

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We had to change to a day-to-day, week-to-week model of operation, adapting all the time, and checking in with clients regularly was central.

As an owner it was scary, and as a growing business with an ambition to continue that it was worrying, you couldn’t see anybody, meet anybody, or manage clients how you wanted to. However, as many did, it turned out that period allowed us to reassess the business from every angle and come out much stronger for the experience – in terms of resilience, communication, technology, and proposition.

How do you relax?

Routine is really important to manage life and stress. I meditate every morning, play golf regularly, and train for triathlons – which is the biggest thing for me, as well as time with family. 

I also love to watch sport, movies, and spend relaxed time with our dogs – but only after I’ve done what I need to do.