Rugby and the City

In a bid to find out more about Sports sponsorship and in particular Sanlam Private Investments and Saracens I set up a meeting with Andrew Lewis – Senior Advisory Stockbroker at SPI. He inhabits a world I know nothing about so I thought I’d find out a bit about him before we spoke Saracens specifically.

How do you get to be a Senior Advisory Stockbroker? Well for Andrew I’d say he got into that line of work in a rather round about way. He is one of those Essex people you often find in the City, but with something of a difference.

He went to Harper Adams Agriculture College in Shropshire, with an eye on a future in arable farming. The college was very rugby influenced and produced some high quality players including Scott Bemand of Harlequins, Tigers and Bath fame.

Andrew with Charlie Hodgson, Tim Streather & Neil De Kock
Andrew with Charlie Hodgson, Tim Streather & Neil De Kock

Andrew started his agricultural career on a 4000 acre estate before working for British Sugar. He swapped a boiler suit for a suit by moving into a commercial role within a few years in the industry.

Next up was a role with a small merchant, this was at the time of the Foot and Mouth epidemic which caused huge issues. A chance comment from a golfing friend saw Andrew looking to a career in the City, he studied and took exams in preparation while still in his first choice of career.

Andrew’s first day in the City was dramatic to say the very least – the date? September 11th 2001 – The day of the Twin Towers attack, a date he’ll never forget in common with many of us, I can remember where I was when I saw the news.

 

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Andrew was provided with a telephone and phone book, given tight targets and expectations of where he needed to be by Christmas. He worked for Merchant Securities in Private Client Stockbroking, working with high net worth individuals on an advisory basis.

As we all know things changed in the City at a huge pace after the collapse of The Lehman Brothers in 2008 and The Regulator become a much more important figure across the financial sector. In the light of such disasters it was very interesting to hear Andrew’s attitude towards his job and his clients.

In his words – he’s dealing with normal people who have worked hard and each client is likely to have a family, they are people looking for best advice to safeguard and improve their futures. It seems a client base is built on trust and I have to say I can see why investors would trust Andrew, he interviews as a man of principle.

Sanlam CEO Craig Massey presenting the Sanlam  Challenge Shield to Deon Stegman
Sanlam CEO Craig Massey presenting the Sanlam    Challenge Shield to Deon Stegman

In addition that that principled character, professional development has always been of great importance throughout Andrew’s career. The events of 2008 meant that all advisors had to meet a new and revised minimum standard.

At a time of unprecedented change in the financial services industry Andrew completed further study and is a qualified Member of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment and has a Diploma in Private Client Investment Advice.

Sport has clearly been a feature for Andrew over the years – I’m not really at all jealous that he was at the Rugby World Cup Final at The Stade De France in 2007 between England and South Africa! I can only begin to imagine the atmosphere at such a huge game!

Sanlam Private Investments took over Merchant Securities in 2011, a South African company their attitude towards sport came along with them. Craig Massey was announced as SPI’s CEO in November 2012 – he introduced the sponsorship with Saracens in the 2013/14 season.

That sponsorship takes many more forms than investment and the SPI logo on shirts and around the ground at Allianz Park.  Sanlam have also sponsored the Sanlam Challenge Shield, bringing 3 Super Rugby teams over to play Saracens.

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Saracens take their hospitality facility into the City once a quarter – visiting venues such as The Shard and The Gherkin.

The events offer networking opportunities as sponsors, city people, sports fans and former professionals mix with current players. One such event saw 3 of Saracens Lions come along to chat about their experiences – Owen Farrell, Mako Vunipola and Matt Stevens.

Zin Zan Brooke a legend of a rugby player and now a very successful businessman has been involved in the link taking clients to games. Having had the chance to experience the hospitality on offer at Allianz Park I have to say it makes for a wonderful afternoon, in particular in the Tulip Club!

I’ve written before about the player involvement with SPI, but a little more about the how and the why. Alison Barwell Head of HR at SPI started working with David Jones of Saracens, looking at elements of the Personal Development Plan.

Blue Bulls looking chilly at Allianz Park
Blue Bulls looking chilly at Allianz Park

They saw an opportunity to give players a window to the workings of the City, a way to learn about various investments and how things work. SPI are working closely with Neil De Kock, he provided an HR session to SPI staff about motivation – How you get up after losing. Something Saracens players had to learn from themselves after a heartbreaking finish to last season.

Tim Streather is also involved, with SPI sponsoring him to take the exams needed to facilitate a future career. Ben Ransom is also a regular visitor. It’s amazing how a good idea can spread – Andrew met Chris Hughes a Saracens and Essex Cricket enthusiast at the season opener dinner at Allianz Park.

That meeting led to an invite to the County Ground in Chelmsford and a connection for 2 of the Essex batsmen Tom Westley and Greg Smith. The idea of including and educating players is spreading.

Andrew himself visited a session with the Saracens Academy players to talk to them about Financial Awareness – an area that David Jones feels is missing from the National Curriculum. Neil De Kock is of the opinion that he wishes he’d had the same advice at the same age.

Although neither rugby players nor cricketers earn the same amount of money as todays Premier League footballers they will have a reasonable sum available to them from a young age. Sound advice from an early age should help them maximise what they do have to give them a solid base for their future.

It’s clear that Andrew thoroughly enjoys both his day job and his involvement in the Financial Academy – the joy shines out when he talks about both – I feel certain that both aspects of his life can only go from strength to strength!

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