“Build small positive habits each week and have patience. Enjoy the journey, and lastly, have fun – work hard, play hard and smile!” CEO Q&A with Paul Merriman of AskPaul & Pax Financial.

CEO Q&A, Interviews | Wed 25 May | Author – Business & Finance
accounting finance Ken Teegardin

Paul Merriman is the CEO of AskPaul & Pax Financial and works to help people with their financial and budgetary needs.

What are your main priorities and goals in your role?

Sustainable Ambitious Growth. Constantly challenge my team and I with regard to the strategic direction of our brands and our businesses whilst ensuring a culture which embraces an open, innovative and growth mindset.

What are your biggest challenges as CEO?

Making sure everyone is supported and focused in a growing, dynamic environment!

When to push on and when to pause and allow all to take stock of the progress that has been achieved collectively by the business.   

How do you keep your team/ staff motivated? 

Making sure my management team and I get to understand everyone’s “why”? Culture and character are massively important to us at AskPaul / Pax Financial.

What are the challenges facing the industry going forward? 

There are a lot of micro/macro and/or local/global challenges facing our industry. 

Some key ones for me: 

  • How to blend the right level of human and technology solutions to ensure excellent customer experiences and outcomes?
  • Mortgage application process hasn’t changed despite advances in open banking? Once approved – where’s the property?
  • Simplified digital and integrated solutions to know your customer (KYC), demonstrate suitability and identification (AML).
  • Where does traditional financial planning meet blockchain/NFT/Tokenisation and crypto culture?

What new trends are emerging in your industry? 

Financial planning in the Metaverse. Also, crypto currency, NFTs and the full impact of open banking are yet to be truly felt.  

Are there any major changes you would like to see in your sector? 

A much greater customer focus from all parts of the advice value chain, for example, a mortgage app, life assurance medical underwriting and the adoption of digital identification systems by life assurance company.

As an employer are you finding any skill gaps in the market? 

With so much noise it becomes more and more difficult to unearth talent. There appears to be less patience on the part of younger talent to engage in apprenticeships.

How did your strategy develop in the context of the banking crisis and economic crisis? 

It drove me on to truly deliver an excellent financial planning business, whilst all of the incumbent players were back to barracks licking wounds, I turned up and amplified my financial planning message via the AskPaul brand.   

How has Brexit affected you? 

We have had some data legislation considerations, but mostly interest from Irish people in the UK, or those that were formerly based in the UK, looking for advice on their retirement benefits and how (if it’s the best advice) to transfer them home.

How has the COVID-19 crisis affected your business/sector? 

For our business It was a catalyst for growth. I believe many in our sector are still trying to organise around it. 

How do you define success and what drives you to succeed? 

Personally, success for me is the well-being of my ecosystem – my family and my business (my extended family).  

What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?

Given – Always be Curious! Which would be summarised well by Rudyard Kipling’s – I keep six honest serving men! 

“I keep six honest serving-men (They taught me all I knew); Their names are What and Why and When and How and Where and Who.”

Advice I would give – Build small Positive Habits each week and have patience. Enjoy the journey, and lastly, have fun – work hard, play hard and smile! 

What have been your highlights in business over the past year?

The growth of the AskPaul brand in both the Financial Planning and Mortgage markets. 

Making a difference across the financial advice landscape – we delivered over 3,000 financial consultations to clients in 2021 supporting individuals, families and businesses in making informed financial decisions and helping them to work toward achieving their financial objectives.  

What’s next for your company?

To continue to scale, grow and develop both organically and by acquisition.

Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?

To be the household name for financial advice. To be the most trusted and engaged with financial advice service on the island of Ireland. To continue to deliver impartial & expert knowledge which will educate the Irish consumer, so that they can make smarter financial decisions to make their money work harder and go further. To live by our in-house company values and be #NotJustAnotherBroker.