Following on from the biography of Don Fraser in our September newsletter we now introduce you to Charles Riches, Director.
What was life like when you were growing up?
At the age of 37, I have sufficient perspective to say with certainty that I had a fortunate childhood and now, with a family of my own, I understand some of the sacrifices my parents made in order to give me the education and opportunities that I had.
Although born in the North East whilst my father was involved with the construction of the Humber Bridge, we relocated to the market town of Berkhamsted when I was young and I spent many a summer exploring its ruins, the common land of Ashridge and cycling around the back roads and the tow path of the then derelict Grand Union Canal.
In 1993 my father took a job in Hong Kong and I opted to stay as a border at Berkhamsted Boys School whilst my family settled into the colonial lifestyle, eventually returning in 1998 after the handover to China. I went on to study History at the University of Hull.
How did you get into financial services?
Although I did seriously consider a career in the army, like many of my peers I began looking for a graduate training scheme on leaving university. I accepted a place on the Friends Provident training programme in 1999. I finally ended my military career in 2003 with the Honourable Artillery Company.
You have almost completed 10 years at Capital, how did you get there?
In 2004 I was rushed into surgery with peritonitis. The weeks spent recovering gave me time to reflect. I flirted with the idea of retraining in law or accountancy. The truth was that I enjoyed guiding people through complexity to find simple solutions and providing peace of mind where I could.
During recovery I decided on three things. (i) I needed to become technically proficient, (ii) I had to find a firm that shared my views and (iii) my future was in the City of London.
I met Alan our CEO, and it was, and continues to be, a meeting of minds.
What do you get up to away from the office?
I have been married to Chelsea for 10 years and we have two children, Harry, 9 and Alex who is 18 months old. We enjoy spending time as a family with days out to the local zoo, museums, parks and weekends away.
Harry began playing mini-rugby in 2011 for Hemel Hempstead (Camelot) RUFC and it wasn’t long before I became directly involved, becoming commercial director in May 2015 and more recently playing for the 1st and 2nd XV. Having suffered serious injuries in my youth, this return is a feat I am particularly proud of and was only possible after months of physiotherapy and fitness training.
What are the biggest challenges you currently face?
Aside from the pressures of all 30-something fathers, the mortgage, saving for the future and education as well as adjusting to my role as company director, the biggest challenge is in living up to the high standards set by my parents. If I manage to achieve half what they managed, then things will be just fine.