Managing director of Wingate Benefit Solutions and Wingate Financial Planning, Ben Clarke has more than 25 years experience in the financial services industry. With both companies award-winning, Ben shares their Caterham connection and some of the keys to their success.
Tell us a bit about your business…
Wingate Benefit Solutions is an award-winning firm of employee benefit consultants (health, protection and well-being; auto-enrolment; workplace pensions etc) working with corporate clients, while Wingate Financial Planning helps individuals retire and achieve their long-term goals.
The ‘Wingate’ brand identity launched in 2002 – the same year the office moved from Oxted to Caterham – having grown from a division of an insurance broker originally.
While there are obviously going to be a number of political, economical and social reasons that will affect our industry in the coming months and years, we work hard to minimise their impact to our corporate and private clients and focus on realising our own ambitions as a business.
We have a very strong culture about doing the right thing at Wingate, whether that’s for our clients, employees or suppliers. That includes embracing the talents of our team; anticipating the needs of our clients; delivering on our promises; being open with the truth; continually seeking to improve; and always being compassionate.
What made you decide to set up in Caterham?
Originally? Practicality. It might sound a little boring but the company wanted to be in a town with the amenities, travel etc that would make it easier for our employees. Caterham ticked the boxes. The longer I’ve been here though, the more I’ve understood that there’s also a thriving community of business people and independents – and it’s great to be part of that.
Is there any advice you would have for other business owners in the town?
Whatever industry you happen to be in, make sure that you know your clients, customers etc. We always set out to do more than a client might necessarily expect and it’s helped ensure that referrals are one of the prime sources of new business for us. You can never underestimate the personal connection.
Why should someone visit your business for the first time?
One of the most common mistakes people make with financial planning is leaving it too late. Rather than waiting until the moment you retire, it can be hugely beneficial to at least start the discussions five or even ten years beforehand so you’re fully prepared. There are probably more options available than you realise and it’s possible to do a lot more with pension funds these days than it used to be. More choice and more freedom can often lead to more risk, and that’s where companies like ours come in to help ease things along.
What would be your top tip for someone visiting Caterham?
Well our team often frequent Casa Lola tapas bar. We close early on the last Friday of every month to allow everyone in the business to catch up with each other, rather than just the people on the next desk as might happen at work day-to-day. It’s a fun way to all relax, get to know each other a bit better and leave the work talk in the office.
Describe your typical lunch break to us…
It’s usually a hastily grabbed sandwich or salad from one of the local sandwich bars, cafés or supermarkets, which is then eaten at my desk.
Finally, tell us your favourite thing about the town…
I don’t necessarily think that people who are outside of Caterham realise quite how strong the local business community is. I probably didn’t until I became involved with Caterham Valley For You, if I’m honest. There’s such a diverse collection of businesses in the town and so many of the people behind them are seriously committed to helping improve things for everyone. I think things are heading in the right direction.
- Find out more about Wingate Benefit Solutions and Wingate Financial Planning in the Caterham Valley For You business directory.
Meet more Caterham Characters…
- Meet Stuart Johnston from home-improvements business, Shard Solutions
- Meet The Caterham Cobbler, Stilios Photiou
- Meet Said Yazici from Caterham Sweet and Savoury Waffles
- Meet Andrew Browne from JJ Browne & Son jewellery
- Meet Abigail Pedrick from Pedrick’s Zero Waste Shop
- Meet Erika Giucastro, team leader at Clarks Shoes
- Meet Paul Smith, director of Fenchurch Insurance Brokers
- Meet the joint owner of Specsavers, Sundip Patel
- Meet Vitaltone Pharmacy and Vitaleyes Opticians’s Shim Patel
- Meet the manager of St Catherine’s Hospice charity shop, Emma Glass
- Meet Bow Butterfly’s Katie Kennedy
- Meet Time Hair & Beauty’s Katherine Casey-Farmer
- Meet Jade Insurance’s Martin Kemp
- Meet Caterham Galleries’ Jodie Green
- Meet Surrey Strength and Performance owner, Daniel Iaciofano
- Meet Helena Fortley bridal boutique’s Sally Brady
- Meet Huntley Cartwright’s Chris Huntley
- Meet Bib & Tucker’s Togs Ali
- Meet The Wedding LookBook’s Ying Shi