Spotlight On … Mark Hollingsworth - IFA
How / why did you get into your line of work in the financial services sector?
On leaving school aged 17, joining a bank or insurance company was a popular career choice. I spent 13 years with Standard Life, which also gave me the foundation to study and obtain advanced level financial services qualifications. I always wanted to further my career in the industry and to give direct client advice – this took me abroad in 1999 and I have never looked back since.
What is your special interest or particular field of expertise in the financial services sector right now?
My roots from my Standard Life days in the 80s and 90s were in group pensions. Over the last 3-5 years I have been helping clients transfer their occupational pensions to both SIPPs and QROPS. I seem to have come full circle in some respects over the last 35 years, as I am spending a lot of my time in this area now. It is a very technical area, but I thrive on finding solutions to often complex pension scenarios, it is very rewarding.
What is the most important aspect of your work, in relation to clients, or the part of your day-to-day role which gives you the most satisfaction?
A lot of my clients have been with me for 10-15 years, and over that time have gone through many life changing situations. I get a lot of satisfaction from knowing my clients will confide in me and trust my opinion with regards making the right decisions for them and their family.
What's special/unique/most interesting about the region you work in?
Having lived in Malta for 21 years I have seen some tremendous changes from a working perspective but also changes to the economy and infrastructure. What was initially to me a small, quiet, Mediterranean island is now a thriving economy based mainly around financial services and iGaming. This brings a huge diversity of nationalities and cultures to the island which has had a very positive impact on me. I have spent the last 12 years working between Malta and Cyprus which has been a wonderful experience – enjoying two similar, yet different, Mediterranean lifestyles.
Right now, what is your one piece of invaluable information for expats or anyone seeking retirement planning and wealth management advice?
Opportunities are forever changing and advice is more important than ever before. I have seen a huge shift in investors looking to invest in trackers or passive structures as they appear to be a cheaper solution. In reality, unless you are a professional investor, then paying that bit extra for seeking active management is crucial. This is where Blacktower can give you that added value for money – be active, not passive!
Blacktower already has a long and successful history in the sector, how will you and your colleagues continue to offer value to clients in the next 20 years and beyond?
We are one of the few companies that were very proactive in ensuring that we were covered for all possible Brexit scenarios, meaning that we could continue to look after our clients across Europe. This shows that we are at the front of the queue in taking care of our valued clients. We have also invested heavily in new technology and back office systems during the Covid pandemic, meaning we can provide an efficient and personal service to our clients. I think this shows that we are a company that puts our clients first.
Tell us an interesting fact about yourself
I had a short ‘career’ as a film extra, and my claim to fame was appearing in a movie with Madonna filmed in Malta. Despite several blockbuster offers, I thought I was better placed pursuing a career in financial services.