60-second interview with David Barnes

David Barnes, 26/2/2018

David Barnes TEP is a consultant at DLB Consultancy, in Lewes, East Sussex.

How and why did you get involved with STEP?

I joined STEP in 1994 after an approach by Jonathan Cooke TEP, who was then STEP Treasurer and a former colleague at Lloyds Bank. STEP was new and seemed like a good idea, as it filled a gap in the representation of our industry at a professional level.

What benefits has it brought you personally, or in your business?

I’d say technical support, networking opportunities, and many good friends.

You were recently given a Founder’s Award. What does this mean to you?

Having been involved in the Society for 24 years, the award was unexpected, but a very nice recognition of the work that many people like me put into the Society.

What is the most important thing STEP does, in your opinion?

I feel that STEP is all about communication, and it is gratifying to see that this has developed to a point beyond my wildest dreams when I was CEO in 1999! STEP has evolved from a discussion group of like-minded individuals to a global organisation that is able to influence governments. That is quite a move in 25 years. Council has successfuly adapted to the changing membership.

What would you say to other members who are thinking of getting more involved with STEP?

Get involved; you will gain a far greater insight into our industry and its problems. You will also enlarge your circle of people in the industry, and be able to help others develop.

What do you most like about your job?

With a background in trust banking, I now work as a consultant to an international software company, and am involved in the development of software solutions to will writing and technical knowledge problems. I like the challenge of new ideas and problems, particularly where the solution lies in the use of new technology.

.. and what do you feel is most worthwhile?

Making the industry safer for practitioners by the provision of reliable tools and current information when advising clients. This will enhance members’ status and that of the Society. I enjoy the contact with our customers and helping to solve their difficulties, and thus enable them to develop their businesses.

What would you say to a young person thinking of a career in this industry?

This is a wonderful industry where you will be involved with all sorts of people and situations that you may never have dreamed of. The technical challenges will be great, but satisfying.

Which sectors are likely to see the strongest future growth, do you think?

As a domestic practitioner I see the areas of will writing, tax planning and probate work as providing the most growth. However, to be able to deal with increased volumes profitably, the industry needs to think outside the box and use new technology. I think STEP could lead the way in this respect, encouraging new members from outside our traditional membership base.

What about jurisdictions?

I suppose the obvious jurisdictions are China and India. However, I do think that there is still a lot of potential in the domestic market.

What trends do you see in the global private wealth sector at the moment?

The spread of greater accountability and demands for transparency will enable governments to exert more control over practitioners, and possibly stifle the development of new products. This can only be countered by a stronger STEP.

What do you feel are the main challenges facing practitioners at the moment, and how will you deal with them?

I think our biggest challenges are going to come from other professions as they expand into our business areas, such as accountants and will writers moving into probate work. At the moment I do not think we have anything to fear, but a close watch needs to be kept. In my current role, these challenges do of course present themselves as opportunities!

Which social media channels do you use?

Facebook not very often, and Twitter hardly at all.

David Barnes TEP is a Consultant with DLB Consultancy, England & Wales. He joined the Sussex Branch in 1994 and was chair in the 1990s, and a Council member from 1994 until 2003. He was Chief Executive of STEP from 1999 to 2001, and at various times was a member of the Membership, Experienced Practitioner and Conferences Advisory committees, the STEP Journal Editorial Board and the Disciplinary Panel.