A businessman dealing with multi-million-pound investments was inspired to work in finance thanks to his mum – who worked in a betting shop.
Simon Knowler’s mum, Pam would help him with his maths homework – bringing numbers to life by explaining risk and the importance of budgeting from an early age.
Simon now heads a leading independent broker, Direct Asset Finance in Bristol, where he applies his mum’s wisdom – helping clients weigh up their options to get the right loan for them.
Simon, 49, who has also worked in banking for over 10 years, said: “My mum is an inspirational woman and she has taught me valuable lessons both in finance and in life.”
A campaign by Money Advice Service found two-fifths of women were uncomfortable discussing money, compared to just a third of men – and were more likely to feel stressed by it.
But Pam, 88, bucked this trend, encouraging openness and analysis around money.
Simon said: “It’s important to be comfortable speaking about money both at home and in business. It enables you to deal with potential problems and seize opportunities for growth.”
Handwritten note sets career path
Simon, from Downend, has helped many firms grow more quickly and easily after gaining funding, including reaching a global market, without having to worry about upfront costs.
And it all started when he wrote to Barclays Bank in Fishpond as a schoolboy asking to do work experience.
The former Christchurch and Downend School pupil, who was also a talented footballer, was accepted. He then impressed during his placement and was offered a permanent paid position.
He went on to work as an assistant corporate manager at Barclays Bank and in asset finance for The Bank of Scotland and later The Bank of Ireland.
Simon, whose late father was an engineer who taxied him to football to matches every weekend, said: “I enjoyed work in asset finance, where businesses could get funding needed to reach their potential. It enables expansion while managing cashflow.”
But he was made redundant during a restructure in 2004. His mum thankfully had also instilled resilience – and Simon went on to set up his own business with a former colleague.
The dad-of-two worked from a bedroom, with little more than a laptop and phone.
He said: “It was a difficult time but we just dug in and got through it. We can empathise with businesses owners who have dreams and need financial support to fulfil them.”
His partner stepped back in 2018 and Simon became the sole director, working with a range of businesses – from start-ups to those with a £90 million pound turnover.
Direct Asset Finance supports various industries, such as construction, manufacturing and renewables, to get funding for anything its business may need – from vehicles to machinery.
The firm, with an office in Bradley Stoke, has grown by 35 per cent and is now looking to expand the sales team.
Pam said: “Simon has always been motivated and dedicated. He arranged his own work experience at the age of 16, which speaks to his character.
“He still has friends from his childhood, as well as customers since he first started his business, because of the way he treats people. He’s honest and loyal.
“I’m very proud of what he’s achieved and not just in his business. He has a lovely family and gets involved in the community, including the local football club.”