60 Seconds With

“It’s never the wrong time to do the right thing” – 60 Seconds with Robert Whelan, Managing Director of Rockwell Financial

By Business & Finance
14 November 2023
A photograph of Robert Whelan, the Managing Director of Rockwell Financial
Pictured: Robert Whelan

Robert Whelan is Managing Director of Rockwell, a financial advisory service based in Dublin. 

What was your first job?

Working for my Dad on the milk round. The best start you could ask for really. I got the habit of starting the day early, I learned to ask people for money – and being the 80s, there were weeks when you called to the door and they didn’t have enough to pay you. I was a witness to negotiations between my Dad and shop keepers on margin and most importantly, I learnt the value of delighting your clients by delivering the milk rain, hail or 2 foot of snow

What pushed you to pursue a career in this field?

I’ve always liked numbers but more how to interpret them than calculate them. I did the BComm in UCD and half the class went into some form of Accountancy but it was never for me. I believe my strongest attribute is problem solving so the fact I could earn a good living, whilst interpreting numbers and helping solve problems for people who needed my help, appealed to me. I love the work. I guess when you love what you do it’s then easy to pursue a career in it.

What would you regard as your greatest achievement to date?

I think the fact I’ve managed to surround myself with some of the best people in the business is definitely something to be proud of.

Career wise, would you do anything differently?

I’d have started my own business earlier. My favourite saying is “It’s never the wrong time to do the right thing”, so I wish I’d had the confidence to jump in 2009 (rather than 2013) when I first thought of it.

In one sentence, how would you define success?

Success is about the level of positive difference you have made in both your personal and professional life, not about how much money you’ve made.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Always measure your business by its use of technology.

How do you motivate yourself and your staff?

I motivate myself by reminding myself why I’m doing this and the consequences of failure. Our culture is about making Rockwell a great place to work and build a career in an organisation that drives change rather than suffers from it. During every Town Hall we highlight the individual success stories amongst the crew as recognition is a big part of our culture.

How do you handle adversity?

Usually pretty well. Accept that it’s part of life and never panic. As quickly as possible I will identify the source and then determine exactly what we can do to get through it and execute with maximum efficiency. I only worry about problems I can directly solve.

How do you relax?

I love to read and listen to a lot of podcasts and regularly get over to Anfield. I also take a three day break every year by myself to a pretty remote part of the country. No distractions. Just a couple of good books, great local seafood and a nice pint of Guinness. What more could you ask for?!

What are your aspirations for the future of the business?

To deliver the best client experience in the industry, aligned with inscrutable investment advice. Once we nail that, the rest will take care of itself.


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