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Finding your feet in finance: Tim Mullin, Composite Legal Expenses

Tim Mullin is head of product development at Composite Legal Expenses, a Cardiff-based company and is part of a larger group of businesses belonging to US-based AmTrust International.

Tim talks about how he became involved in the Financial Services and sheds some light on the different roles available within the financial sector and offers advice on how graduates can apply their skills to get ahead and how finance isn’t all men in grey suits…

Listen to and download the interview here.

Why did I get into the financial services sector? To be honest I found myself landing in it. I went to university, did a degree in accounting and IT and I had no real thought about what I would do next and ended up finding myself here at Composite Legal in 2003.

It is such a diverse sector it isn’t necessarily accountants in grey suits everywhere you look, it encompasses areas such as insurance, which we are involved with – finance itself, tax and in some cases it overlaps with the legal sector which is where our business is more involved in.

Composite itself was established in 1996. If you go back before my involvement it started off in one room on Woodville Road in Cardiff with three directors and we’re now in a position where we are a multi-million company and attracted the interests of a company such as AmTrust Financial who are a billion dollar turnover company, so that’s how the business evolved.

I’m part of the senior management team, when I left university and joined the business I used some of my IT skills which are very important in the financial services sector, more so now than perhaps 15 years ago. Using those skills I actually started to learn about the business itself and how you can use IT to improve services and processes the business was going through.

A lot of what we do is business to business so we don’t interact directly with the members of the public or businesses, but we have intermediaries who sell our products so using IT within the financial services helped grow the business, so hopefully I was a small cog in the works.

When I found my footing that’s one of the reasons I wanted to stay in this sector – there are so many facets to it and everyday is different and challenging and rewarding at the same time. When I found my footing that’s one of the reasons I wanted to stay in this sector – there are so many facets to it and everyday is different and challenging and rewarding at the same time.

I moved a bit away from the IT side of things, more into the business development side, product development and our products have changed and diversified over the years and we now have a complete set of services for the financial sector, for insurance brokers etc, and that is where we are today, so going from a small business to a corporate has been a bit of a challenge, but one that we’ve relished and I think we are now a very important part of AmTrust itself.

“I think graduates need to differentiate themselves – it is how they can add value to the business.” 

It is such a competitive environment out there for graduates and I think the academic side of things is as important as it always has been, but that is your standard that you have to have nowadays, so that is critically important with the Welsh Financial Graduate Programme and with the Masters’ degree, but what I would say is that outside the academia point of view I find that the graduates that we have had need to have have a ‘go do’ attitude and be proactive in terms of what they do within the work place and that was certainly what I did myself.

It isn’t a case of ‘this is what you are going to do today or, this is what you are going to do this week – it is about asking what’s the strategy in a month’s time, six month’s time a year’s time and then you can actually see where things are going and you start to suggest things that may improve processes and ultimately the business, so that’s where.

Having the experience of working in up to four different financial services businesses within Wales gives those individuals fantastic strength for their CV ad makes them a lot more employable than they were before. It has proven that the graduates have been employed within those businesses but people are always wanting to go off and do their own thing and my advice would be take it slowly.

Don’t jump in the deep and try and be a multi-national, multi-million pound business from day one because it’s not going to happen. Hopefully day two!

I wouldn’t go for the big contracts, I would start slowly, plan ahead, make sure you have your support in place whether that be with finances or business advice – there’s lots of places out there, such as Chambers of Commerce – don’t just do things on your own, take advice from places like the universities and look to partner with established businesses where you feel you can add value to their proposition and just take one step at a time and give it time and you’ll be successful.