Alumnus of the Month: November 2022
Chris Pearce is our Verulam School Alumnus of the Month. Chris left Verulam School in 1988 and is now a director of Aqua Wealth Management.
Please tell us a little about yourself – where do you work and how did you get into this role?
Whilst at Verulam I did work experience at Barclays bank in St Albans, and after enjoying economics at both O level, and A level, I decided not to go to university, but instead to pursue a career in financial services.
This route enabled me to carry on my studies, in an area which I found enjoyable, and over time, working for a few companies, helped build up my knowledge within the protection, savings, investment and retirement market. I continued with my studies, obtaining qualifications to become a financial adviser, a pension specialist, and a potential fund manager, opening up various opportunities to me.
In 2012, along with my business partner, we established Aqua Wealth Management. My business partner is connected to Verulam, as both his sons studied at, and have now left the school, with one now working within the business, along with my son. Although I moved out of the area, it was great to then be able to open my office in St Albans, where I have many fond memories of growing up. Having the office in St Albans has also helped us work with local schools to do talks, and work experience, where we offer placements to students from Verulam and other local secondary schools.
10 years on, we have continued to build a successful business, employing local, and young enthusiastic people, giving them an opportunity to build on their careers within the financial services. We have also grown Aqua Wealth Management with our clients, and help supporting them to meet their financial objectives.
What are some of your proudest achievements since leaving Verulam School?
I like to look at difficult challenges to see how these can be overcome, and one of these was bouncing back from a knee injury to run and complete the Barcelona marathon. My thanks goes a lot to the PE teachers at Verulam, who helped me to develop such skills to help with these achievements, and also for their help in developing me as a footballer, rugby player, and hockey player, which I have continued to enjoy since leaving school! I also then learnt how to play golf, and then had to re-learn how to play, but this time playing left-handed rather than right-handed, following my knee operation.
But mostly, along with my business partner, being able to build a successful company from scratch, seeing it grow, being able to offer opportunities to people, and building up trust with our clients.
What advice would you give someone looking to follow a similar career path?
University is good to follow a specific qualification, but don’t ignore apprenticeships, and make sure that whichever route you want to do is going to be relevant and enjoyable for you to get the most out of to start your career.
Try and take on as much information as possible to digest and understand it, and keep up to date with things that are going on relevant to the industry that you are following.
Don’t be afraid to speak out, to clarify understanding, build up good rapport with work colleagues and be able to communicate effectively with every individual within your organisation.
The key to success is having focus of what you want to achieve with good planning, regular reviewing, and pushing yourself to overcome objections to reach your goals, but have fun along the way!
How have your experiences at Verulam School contributed to your life and successes since leaving school?
Within school there are subjects which everybody struggles with, but having teachers that can present in different ways making the subject fun and enjoyable along with keeping it simple, made these subjects easy to understand. Special thanks would go out to Mr Jones, who made physics a lesson to look forward to, and Mr Poole in economics.
The concept above of keeping things simple is so relevant to our meetings today.
Being a former prefect, having to read in front of the school within assemblies, is daunting but by having this experience, this has helped build my confidence to be able to speak to various sizes of audiences over my career.
What House were you in at Verulam School and can you describe one of your fondest memories?
I was in Jennings at Verulam and I have many fond memories, due to the friends I made, and still to this day many of them continue to be close friends.
Staying on in sixth form, was certainly fun from both the social and sporting side, and being part of organising events, such as the parties at the local OVs rugby club, and obviously then attending these too.
Continue to build, grow, and see the continued success that Aqua Wealth Management has become, and watch with interest how all the young employees within Aqua continue to build their careers, and promote financial services to all. Which overall, means I can have more holidays, and time on the golf course!
We love hearing what our alumni have been doing since leaving Verulam School. Each month, we are inviting a member of our alumni community to share their story of life after Verulam. If you’re and alumnus who would like to take part, or you’d like to volunteer an alumnus that you know, then please drop us an email.