Robb Wylie is Head of Complaints at Octopus Investments. We spoke to Robb about his role, his background in financial services, and how the culture at Octopus gives him the support he needs to treat Octopus customers fairly.
Can you tell us about your role?
I head up the team handling complaints for Octopus Investments, Octopus Real Estate and the customers of the Octopus Choice and Cash products. Together, that’s around 70,000 customers, including financial advisers.
Thankfully, Octopus has great customer-facing teams who resolve the majority of issues on the spot, or avoid them arising altogether. But for those times when a complaint does come through to us, our aim is simple – to do the right thing.
A lot of companies say that, of course. But to make it meaningful, you have to actually do it. For complaints, that means taking concerns seriously, acknowledging them quickly, understanding where we went wrong, and figuring out how we can fix things. And it’s about communicating really well throughout.
We set high standards for customer service at Octopus. So, it’s no surprise our customers have high expectations of us in return. I see that as a good thing. It pushes us to do better.
“There’s an inherent decency in what we do, and how we look to do it. It feels good to be a part of that.”
What gives you satisfaction in your role?
Many firms in our sector are only interested in throwing money at a problem, to shut it down quickly. Or worse still, they’ll ignore customer concerns altogether. But at Octopus, we’re empowered to handle complaints properly. Whether that involves resolving something or explaining what’s happened, we get to do the right thing.
Of course, it’s the Octopus culture that makes this possible. My team thrives on equal measures of autonomy and trust, and our opinions are valued and listened to. Instead of wading through layers of bureaucracy, we can speak directly with any colleague, at any level. If there’s an issue to address, we feel empowered to challenge. There’s an inherent decency in what we do, and how we look to do it. It feels good to be a part of that.
Does the breadth of your experience give you an edge at Octopus?
Absolutely. Before I joined Octopus, I worked in various roles in financial services. I’ve been a financial adviser, a marketing manager, and a group compliance director. I was a specialist contractor for various firms like Coutts, Barclays, Halifax and AXA, where I reviewed investment advice given by their financial advisers. I also contracted at the Financial Ombudsman Service, an independent body that settles disputes between financial services companies and consumers.
So, I naturally draw on that experience when it comes to making decisions. It suits the way we work at Octopus. The things we learn in one place cross-pollinate to another. But it also takes the right mix of inquisitiveness, communication skills and empathy to do well in this role. It’s rare to find all three qualities in one person. One person might be a stronger communicator, another more empathetic. That’s why we work together, to complement each other’s strengths.
What’s the best thing about life at Octopus?
I was once described by a senior colleague at Octopus as a “radiator of cynicism, but in a good way”, so it’s fair to say I’m not the type to say fluffy things. But I do genuinely love everything about working at Octopus. I get to contribute positively, work with great people, for a company I’m proud to talk to anyone about.
If you could have a different career to what you’re doing now, what would it be?
I love being out on the water, and I’ve always fancied having a boat and running big game fishing trips. Somewhere tropical, of course!
How do you like to relax when you’re not working?
Home for me is in South Wales. I work away four days a week, so I spend my downtime relaxing with my wife and kids. We see friends and have a lot of get-togethers. It’s about spending quality time.
Visit octopusinvestments.com to find out what makes Octopus so different from other investment companies.