The eprivateclient 50 Most Influential is the definitive rankings of the key players in the UK and offshore private client practitioner sector.
To showcase the achievements of those listed this year and to get to know them a bit better, eprivateclient has began publishing a new Q&A series with our 2021 50 Most Influentials.
Today we hear from Naomi Rive, group director & head of family office at Highvern.
Ms Rive was called to the English Bar in 1999 and re-qualified as a Jersey Advocate in 2003. As a former partner at global offshore law firm, Appleby, she provided wealth-structuring advice to high and ultra-high net worth individuals, international private banks and trust companies.
At Highvern, Ms Rive works closely with clients and their advisers to establish and implement wealth planning structures.
She is a member of the board of Highvern Trustees Limited, former chair to the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) in Jersey and sits on the Jersey Finance Trusts Law Working Party.
What have been your proudest personal/team achievements this year?
2020 was a hugely challenging year for all businesses and the private wealth sector was no exception. Moving into a remote working environment, whilst at the same time managing the needs of a diverse and international client base, was not for the faint hearted.
Just some of the situations we encountered included steadying client nerve during the financial markets crash in March 2020, working with families whose operating businesses had to cease trading overnight and, the worst situation of all, liaising with family members who went on to became seriously unwell with covid-19.
Coming out of the year feeling stronger than we went into it then was a massive team achievement and we feel very proud of our efforts in helping our clients through these unprecedented times.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Don’t rush to tick off achievements. Instead take time to listen and learn as much as you can. It is the experience you gain along the way that makes you a better and more rounded adviser.
What do you find most rewarding about your role?
Very often at the outset of a relationship, clients don’t fully understand the trustee’s role or how they will engage with the trustee on a day-to-day basis. This understanding comes over time as the structure matures and a board range of transactional activity is undertaking. Winning clients over and developing their trust and confidence is a hugely rewarding part of a trustee’s role.
What challenges do you see your firm/clients facing in 2021?
Clients are become increasingly frustrated by the amount of CDD requests they have to deal with and this is something that we encounter on a daily basis as well. It would be great if more governments could invest in central repositories to facilitate the sharing of such information and also use technology better to support this.
What does being named a 50 Most Influential mean to you?
I work with many of the other 50 Most Influential throughout the year, especially those in the legal and accounting communities. It is very satisfying to see the practitioners that you worth closely with, and respect, recognised for their achievements. It’s also a privilege to be named amongst them.
What is the favourite part of your job?
I always get a buzz from being introduced to a new client, listening to his or her story and seeking to understand what we can do to help. Win or lose the pitch (but preferably win) I always learn something new and hopefully use what I have learnt moving forward.
What made you choose to focus on private client work?
I started my legal career in litigation and being based in Jersey a lot of that work related to trusts disputes. I found trusts fascinating but over time didn’t enjoy the litigation part as much. Moving into private client work was the natural next step. Most of the time I help families to keep their structures out of the court but, if all else fails, we have a great court system in Jersey.
What book/luxury item would you want with you on a desert island?
A luxury yacht would be nice but, failing that, a photo album filled with family memories.
If you were not in (and it is not) your current role, what would be your dream job?
I would like to try my hand at journalism – news, travel or food writing all appeal.
What’s your favourite hobbies/passions/interests outside of work?
In a remote working world, the idea of having interests outside of work has become a little more challenging.
Travel has always been a big passion but the past 12 months has mainly been spent reading travel books and planning future holidays. It has been a good geography lesson for my two boys if nothing else!
Cooking and walking also feature towards the top of the list. We are spoilt for great cliff path walks on Jersey and we also have plenty of lovely places to stop for coffee and cake. Thankfully Covid-19 didn’t manage to stop that!
What one piece of advice has benefited you the most in your career?
I was once told to trust your instincts and when it comes to working with private clients I have found this to be very good advice.
Right from the very first meeting, you can generally tell if a client relationship is going to work or whether you are going to have an uphill struggle. Nowadays, clients that don’t understand the heavily regulated world that we operate in and who are resistant to information sharing and good communication, are just too difficult to have on the books.