Sabine Remnant is an Investment Director at Ruffer.
In this piece, she talks to us about getting into a career in finance, the challenges she has faced, including her struggle with imposter syndrome, and shares advice to her younger self.
I am an Investment Director at Ruffer, helping individuals and their families protect the money that matters to them, and hopefully growing it too. I do not have a finance background as I read History at university but I did do a lot of exams in my first few years at work! I have been at Ruffer nearly 17 years and started on the grad scheme. I have progressed over the years, taking on clients and management responsibilities over time. I am now part of the UK Wealth Leadership team and head up one of three Private Client teams in the business. I have three children; Theo (8), Marina (6) and Ludo (3) and we have just moved to the countryside, they are loving the extra space and I am just coming to terms with the realities of commuting in from the sticks!
The only career I ever planned was to be a City lawyer, and that went out of the window when I realised, a few weeks into my law conversion course, that I didn’t want to be a lawyer! From then on I was pretty much winged it and luckily for me, that has worked out pretty well. I never imagined that I would end up being part of a leadership team at Ruffer but now that I am here, I love it. Whilst there have been moments of doubt and challenges along the way, in hindsight I think that not having a master plan has probably made it more enjoyable because I haven’t put myself under an undue amount of pressure to hit career goals and that of course means that I have not been (too) disappointed along the way. I do however think it is important to point out that my career has been full of mini plans which I set myself each time I reached another level or point in time; getting through exams, getting promoted to next levels etc, but I was always quite relaxed as to achieving great things, probably because I didn’t believe that I could. I have had several moments in my career where promotions and being given positions of responsibility have come as a great surprise and these have certainly contributed to my overall growing in confidence over the years. They haven’t however made me suddenly create a career master plan, I am very much still of the view that, for me, baby steps work well and it is amazing how far they can take you.
Challenges come in all shapes and forms and from that perspective, of course I have faced many over my working life but I do consider myself extremely lucky that I have never felt threatened or held back by my gender at work. Having said that, the biggest challenge that I have faced is probably imposter syndrome, and that of course is an overwhelmingly female issue. As hinted above, my relatively relaxed approach to career development was almost certainly due to imposter syndrome because I didn’t believe that I could or should progress, or that there was any reason why I should be given a role over my extremely capable and accomplished colleagues, many of whom I am lucky to also call my friends. I remember when I first discovered imposter syndrome and I was blown away that this was a thing, it rang so true to me, yet I still wasn’t sure that it was me – probably classic imposter syndrome! I certainly still face the challenges of this dreaded state of mind but I consider myself lucky that I am endorsed by the role that I have been asked to play at work and from the feedback that I receive.
It’s ongoing, and it’s not easy, but I feel my managing to juggle my career and my children is a great achievement and I hope that in years to come my children will be proud of me because of it. Because I want to be there for them as much as I can, and as they get older they are doing more, this is an increasing struggle, but where I can, and without hindering my work or my clients, I am trying to embrace flexible working as much as possible in order to achieve the balance that I need on both sides of the spectrum. I must point out that this would not be possible without the support I have with childcare at home, and also with the support I have from my amazing team at work!
The best advice that was given to my younger self was from my beloved granny (Gosh) and I would give it to my younger, current or older self again and again. The context was that I had very recently started a law conversion course but that I had quickly realised that it wasn’t for me. In reality my interests lay elsewhere but I couldn’t bring myself to not complete the course – I was worried about ‘dropping out’. ‘That’s your pride’ Gosh said to me, ‘You have to stamp on your pride’. I found it hard to admit to everybody that I was giving it up but 3 months later I was given a graduate job at Ruffer. That was nearly 17 years ago. Pride comes in all shapes and forms and whilst it is hugely important to be proud of yourself and your achievements, it is equally important not to let it obstruct you in your pursuit of happiness or success. A close second and third in the advice queue to my younger self, neither of which require much explanation are, be kind but be strong.