The Ups and Downs of my Career

Having graduated with a degree in Economics from the London School of Economics, I began my career in 1995 as an Investment Banker. Twenty two and full of confidence, I found that Investment Banking was a great platform to make a lot of money! I was moving hundreds of millions of Pounds/Deutschmarks & Lira between banks which thinking back was a huge responsibility for a 22 year old!! Having worked in some of the biggest Global Banks I found after 5 years it was not something I could envisage myself staying in long-term and lost the desire to continue.

Moving to Ireland in 1999 when things were much different. With my surname and lack of contacts I found I had to restart my career and took a position in Financial Advisory with AIB. It was high-pressure sales but I was able to build up a decent client base and landed some of the biggest branches in the country, such as South Mall in Cork. I really enjoyed dealing directly with individuals and moved from AIB to Ulster Bank and ACC in pursuit of a higher seniority (and with it more money).

In 2007/2008 when the financial crisis started, and whilst being one of the Bank’s top performers, for the second time in my career I felt disillusioned. Having worked in Banks for 10 years since entering Ireland, and going into every year with a new set of specific targets for products was a merry-go-round I didn’t want to stay on. The inability to offer a full range of products and given we were tied agents (could only sell the banks products) I felt I was a pawn for the Bank.

In 2009 I took a big decision to break from the Bank and took a position with a mid-sized Accountancy firm in Cork as a Director in their Wealth Management division. I took inspiration from the harsh lessons I’d learned during the early years of my career and decided to ensure that I always provided as broad a service as possible to clients and to be an independent Broker. This included offering products not traditionally offered by financial advisory firms such as Tax based schemes (e.g.’s the Employment Investment Incentive and Film Relief schemes). Also by providing clients innovative investment solutions (which had specific characteristics of being liquid as well as Capital Gains Tax based rather than DIRT Tax based) things went really well despite the fact the economy was at the lowest point it had been for over 30 years!

All changed In late 2012 when my father was taken ill. With my mother passing suddenly in 2011 who I had been closer to, I regretted dealing with her passing my immersing myself into work. With a sense of guilt I decided I wouldn’t feel the same way again and upped sticks handing in my notice and moved back to London on a one way ticket. Whilst I easily got a well paid position in Private Banking, my father’s position improved and as I had been out of London too long I found I didn’t belong there anymore.

I decided to go back to Cork and set up a Financial Services firm. I had a different perspective on life and to do this job and be really good at it, you have got to understand people and get on with them. My early years taught me how important this is. The litmus test is if clients stick with you. I’ve still got clients who have been with me since the early days. Ultimately, you’ve got to be interested in people and what they do. Alpha Wealth is entering its third year and having been shortlisted earlier this year for “Best Broker in Munster 2015”, it seems we are doing something right. If you are interested in a Financial Review and to join us in helping you in your financial lifecycle contact us (info@alphawealth.ie).

What have you got to lose ?

Nick Charalambous

Managing Director