In conversation with …. ADRIAN GODWIN

Adrian Godwin – OakTree Financial Services

Adrian Godwin is the founder and managing director of OakTree Financial Services. OakTree Financial Services first opened its Fermoy office doors in 2010, offering expert advice and a comprehensive range of financial and insurance services.

1. What is the most rewarding part of having your own business?

It is knowing that I am completely responsible for the business I gain, the income it produces and the freedom it provides regarding my own ideals and ideas. 

This then provides for a good work-life balance in the longer term.

2. What is your educational background?

I am a graduate of the University of Limerick having completed a business degree there. I then went on to qualify as both a tax advisor and accountant but completed my exams as a Qualified Financial Advisor. 

Of course college and the various other qualifications I have help in terms of owning your own business, however, I have to say I also know some very successful businesses where they (owners) have no 3rd level education, but have secured a team around them who have the required qualifications.

3. What advice would you give to an aspiring entrepreneur?

Ignore the naysayers. There will always be people ready to knock you down from the outset. If you believe in what you are about to do then make sure to follow it. 

Don’t expect to be a millionaire in the first couple of years either! Take proper advice as to how to structure your business and prepare your own business plan. Only you know what it is you want to do and how you are going to do it.

Plan ahead in terms of expansion. Your business should be lean, but recognise early when you need to expand your team as this will help develop and grow your business.

4. How do you keep your team motivated?

We are very much an open-door office without having titles for everyone in the office. As a result, we are more like a small family than a place of work (which also includes the fact that you need to be thick-skinned at times!). By ensuring that your team are treated well at work keeps them motivated as well as the obvious nights out, lunches or other small perks.

By having a team that gel well together helps hugely. At Oaktree, we make sure everyone has the opportunity to have their say and everyone helps in terms of developing and growing the business.

5. Three words that best describe your work ethic?

Honest, reliable and consistent.

6. What was the turning point for your business?

We established Oaktree Financial Services in 2010, in the midst of a global recession. In the early years, it was difficult to talk to people about financial services as they were suffering from the boom and over-borrowing. However, from about 2014 things improved dramatically and as they did, our business turned also. People’s needs never changed, but once people felt secure in their jobs this meant that they could go about making their family future more financially secure. Obviously, as we became more established, more and more people refer us to family and friends and that helps hugely in any business.

7. Where do you see yourself and your business in the next 5 years?

Oaktree Financial Services is turning 10 this year and there have already been a lot of changes in the business and my plans as to where I saw myself 10 years ago. Who knows? Certainly, I would see myself continuing to develop and grow the business and continue to nurture the relationships that we have with our clients during the next 5 years. Do I see myself leaving this industry? Certainly not – well not unless I win the Lotto!

8. In what way did Covid-19 impact your business?

We were classed as an essential service throughout the pandemic and as such, did not close. Over the last number of years, we put in place a number of measures that stood to us when we closed the office – electronic signatures, paperless working, remote access for all staff and the ability to move our phones to any location, to name but a few.

During the last number of weeks and months, we have been extremely busy helping both clients and non-clients in terms of their own requirements during this time. It has not been easy on anyone, but thankfully we are getting to the other side and our staff are now fully back at work (albeit subject to a number of measures we have had to put in place).

9. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I love to read. I’d love to say I read a load of self-help and developmental books but unfortunately, I’m more of a thriller/spy fiction person! I’m a big fan of Robert Ludlum and David Baldacci and have a number of their books which I happily re-read when I can.

10. Looking back, what is the one piece of advice you would give yourself when you first started out?

Be confident in what it is you can do, don’t question your own ability and realise you are not alone. I think for many entrepreneurs this can be one of the biggest hurdles facing them. There can be a feeling of isolation at certain times when trying to develop your own ideas and dreams, that it causes you to question everything. 

This is where having a solid team around you is hugely important. The team may not be employees, but might be your financial advisors, friends or even family. Stay strong!

11. What valuable life lessons have you learned throughout the years?

I have learned that in order to have expert staff, it is important to have a good and strong interview process and to follow your gut feeling on someone.