Adam Tavener

Chairman, Clifton Assett Management PLC


I left school in 1978, just shy of my 16th birthday, after a family fall-out meant I had to leave school and home.
Six months as a YOP trainee estate agent earning £17 a week and paying £12 in rent didn’t work out, so became officially homeless for a while, travelling Europe with a tent on my back and doing work wherever I could find it.
Ended up as a deck hand on a yacht for six months before returning to the UK to find a job.
Had no fixed abode for a month or so, various B&B accommodation, friends’ sofas and park benches.
Answered an ad in the Bristol Evening Post recruiting for a commission-only sales job selling financial services products, promising a fortune. Applied, got it (they were not at all fussy!). Meanwhile, was also offered a job as a labourer in a stoneworks in Ilminster. Was touch and go which to take as that one offered a wage! I’d probably still be there!
Struggled like crazy for first two or three years, next to no income, terrible accommodation (my bedsit had rats, broken windows and no hot water) and no real training. Left for six months to try my hand as scrap metal collector/dealer. Epic fail. Was very skinny by then.
Adam Tavener. Biography. 0214
Re-joined FS sales group and began to make progress, leaving after a year to set up my own business with partners, based on same model. Became MD and business became stable and solid. I was 22 by then. After two years I decided that a partnership wasn’t for me and set up Clifton Asset Management, no assets or staff, just a desk and phone under the stairs in the back of a friend’s office.
Business grew over first five or six years but became of poor quality in terms of control and staff, very prone to mass departures, hard sales and suffered from some significant integrity gaps. Grew to about 60 people, mostly commission-only sales staff.
Eureka moment, realised that if there was to be a long- term future the whole thing had to be redesigned to specialise and focus on customer outcomes. Closed all the offices and got rid of all staff bar six, one of whom was very junior but appeared promising and is now my business partner and Clifton’s Managing Director, Neil Greenaway. Ran the whole thing from a room in my house and between us began to develop a plan to specialise in corporate advice and specifically funding using pensions, the very earliest inkling of what is now Pension-led Funding.
Business grew back to about 25 people based on sound principles until eventually my wife suggested that moving to our own offices might be a good idea, which we did in 2006. When first office was purchased we figured that would be us sorted for the next 20 years (it was big) but ran out of space within three years and had to purchase next door unit. We now occupy three building and have around 100 people on site.
A member of the CBI’s South West Council, I am passionate about the social and economic importance of the small business sector, believing that collaboration between providers of non-bank funding and the main banks is the way forward.
I’m a regular speaker at business events around the country and attended the Downing Street Financial Innovators Summit last year, where I made the case for greater collaboration between funders.
The Clifton Group has seen major expansion in the past year, cementing its place as the second largest provider of alternative business finance in the UK. I believe that constant innovation and a deep commitment to client satisfaction will keep the Clifton Group relevant and successful.
It has funded over 1,600 businesses to date, which employ around 20,000 people and turn over in excess of £2 billion, confirming my belief that the non-bank funding sector can achieve measurable social and economic results.
I am married, with a largely grown up family, and in my ‘leisure’ time I love to read, am a former rower and rugby player and can be regularly spotted trundling round the lanes of North Somerset trying to keep fit.

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