Co-owner close up, Olivia Bowen

By Olivia Bowen

In this Co-owner close-up, we learn more about Castlefield Partner, Olivia Bowen. Olivia discusses her long-standing career in thoughtful investment, along with how she balances her role of looking after clients with her voluntary work and hobbies.

I have worked in ethical finance since I was 23, so over 20 years and counting! I did a Social Policy degree at Manchester University and after graduating started working at the Levenshulme Job Centre. Working for an ethical company was always important to me, and I liked the idea of working for a relatively small firm where you can have greater impact. Naturally, the Job Centre was a good place to look for work, and I found an Administrator role advertised within an ethical financial advice firm – GAEIA (Global & Ethical Investment Advice). That sounded interesting, so I applied and happily got the job.    

Whilst there I took a range of exams, and reasoned with myself that even if it didn’t turn into a career, it would be useful to know about mortgages, investments, pensions, protection policies etc for my own life; as these subjects weren’t - and still aren’t - taught in school.  

Although I wasn’t specifically looking for a role in financial services, I luckily found it to be a career I love. I believe this is because I followed my instincts and was led by my values. I therefore continued to work at GAEIA which was acquired by Castlefield in 2011, and I haven’t looked back since! Over my years in the industry, I made the commitment to become a Chartered Financial Planner. I advise on a wide range of aspects of financial planning and have advanced qualifications in taxation & trusts, investment & risk and the financial planning process.  

Now, in my day-to-day role, I am fortunate to have such a diverse career that involves looking after clients who care about the impact their money has in the world; working with co-owners who share our values; balancing a mix of technical work and writing, alongside personal interactions. It is made all the more worthwhile because we are working towards changing financial services for the better and moving money in the right direction – i.e. away from industries that damage and pollute, by investing in sustainable companies.  

The finance industry used to be fairly sceptical about ethical investment, and I remember being seriously patronised by fellow Financial Advisors at industry events! Thankfully nowadays it’s become fully accepted as a valid investment strategy and the number of funds and options available for clients has increased dramatically. To showcase Castlefield and our ethical and sustainable approach, I try to make the time to apply for industry awards. It’s fantastic to see Castlefield in the running with our peers and receiving external recognition for our people, values and services.   

I have been volunteering for many years, which has provided really interesting professional development. I have been a Steering Group member of The Philanthropy Network; Chair of the Real Farming Trust, on the LV= Member Panel, as well as various PTA roles including Chair & Treasurer.    

This, plus support from co-owners, has helped me gain the confidence to do radio and tv work. My personal highlights have been Channel 4’s Dispatches, BBC’s Rip off Britain, Radio 4’s Moneybox and Which? Money podcasts. 

My career at Castlefield has also been brilliant from a personal perspective, as I have been able to work flexibly whilst raising my children. I’m now also the proud owner of Teddy (the horse), who I look after with my daughter, and so if I’m not at my desk I can usually be found at the stables, in the garden, or - as a keen scuba-diver - under the sea if I am lucky.