Jonason Relishing Career Move

Paul Nicholls & Tom Jonason | Racing Post


During a recent visit to Weatherbys Racing Bank we caught up with Tom Jonason, Head of Business Development, to discuss his career change and some of projects he has been working on.

TDN: Tom, tells us a bit about your career to date.

TJ:  Before I joined Weatherbys Racing Bank, I was actually with a company called RacingFX for a little while. Before that, I worked for Paul Nicholls, as his assistant trainer for six years.

TDN: There is a bit of a difference working as an assistant trainer to what you are currently doing. Why the change?

TJ: There were a multitude of reasons really, and it wasn't an easy decision, I can tell you. It was changing priorities and changing responsibilities in my life. I was getting married, and thinking about buying a house, so there were a number of sensible factors. Obviously, working for Paul, there was an actual lead into training, Dan Skelton has gone on and done very well, and Harry Fry, which really inspired me that I could go on and do it.

But, like I said, it was just a number of factors. It took me a really long time to come to the decision. So I started to think about other career options, and gave Paul a year's notice, and started to put the word about.

TDN: Do you miss working with Paul? I'd imagine your time there is something you think about a lot given the time of year we are in?

TJ: I do miss it. I miss the big days, but I don't regret it, which is the most important thing. I miss the buzz around the yard, I miss the lads. There's definitely a difference between working in an office environment and outside. But equally, I don't miss the snow fall that Paul Nicholls just had, for example, and I saw on Twitter that the gallops man was on the tractor all night, harrowing the gallops and two or three years ago, I would have been very much a part of that. I was sound asleep in my bed this year and I didn't miss that aspect.

TDN: Why Weatherbys Racing Bank?

TJ: Well, Weatherbys actually came about in a funny sort of way. I did actually come for an interview when I gave Paul a year's notice for a role very similar to what I have now, but I didn't get it. Then the opportunity just presented itself about a year later. It was a no-brainer for me: Weatherbys' name is synonymous with racing. It's a company that I've wanted to get involved with. The big thing, for me, about Weatherbys, is that it's a really good brand. If I pick up the phone and say its Tom from Weatherbys, it doesn't matter who I'm speaking to, and doesn't matter they have no idea who Tom from Weatherbys is, the client or potential client is immediately engaged. Everyone knows the name Weatherbys in the racing industry, and I think it's got a really good reputation.

TDN: As you said Weatherbys is synonymous with racing and breeding. What do you think the ethos of the company is?

TJ: The ethos of Weatherbys is summed up in our customer service. That's another thing that I like about Weatherbys. I'm probably a bit of a perfectionist, a bit pernickety. That's something that was bred into me at Paul's, is that you leave no stone unturned. It's the same with Weatherbys. You go the extra mile for the customer all the time. I think that's hugely important–the personal service here. I work specifically in the bank and the personal service that our clients receive is like no other and not even imaginable on the High Street. We answer the phone in three rings and if you're a client of the Private Bank you could be speaking to your relationship manager within 10 seconds. That trickles down through the Racing Bank as well, and I hope that our clients find that as much as I do. On the High Street, it'd take you 10 minutes just to be able to speak to a human being.

TDN: What are some of the projects you have been involved in since joining Weatherbys Racing Bank?

TJ: There's always a desire to move forward and keep pace with technology whilst keeping the personal service that you can only really get with human beings and the personal touch. I've been a part of a few different things with the Racing Bank in particular. Since I've joined, we've launched an account called Racing Plus, which really bridges the gap between the standard racing account and wanting a bank account for a fuller service. You've got online banking and that facilitates your transactions for racing, inasmuch as that your entry fees are automatically taken out and your prize money automatically goes in, but also that there's a range of different benefits that go with it. You can have debit card, cheque book and there is our VAT return service which is available as a part of the Racing Bank. You get a 20% discount from that service, from the quarterly fee, if you're a Racing Plus client.

We also have a £500 prize money bonus for owners if they win a Racing Bank-sponsored race throughout the year at a range of racecourse in both codes. But also you can step outside of just a racing activity. It's a full banking service for anyone that's connected to the bloodstock industry. A lot of studs might use it or any bloodstock professional, you get the full Weatherbys service combined with that racing specialist nature of the account.

TDN: I believe you have recently launched a banking app as well?

TJ: Yes, that's right. It's an app that fits across all products: from the Racing Bank to our Racing Plus clients, and also the Private Bank. It's as you would expect any online banking app to be, but from a racing perspective, it's not something we've properly had before. For our racing clients, it's just another string to the bow of Weatherbys Racing Bank, being able to hold your funds in a racing account and making your payments and doing all your racing activity on the go–it's just a really slick piece of kit. It's all been designed in-house at Weatherbys. It's quite exciting for us and hopefully it's exciting for our clients.

TDN: What do you enjoy most about the job?

TJ: It's that Weatherbys ethos, going that extra mile for the client. Like I said earlier on, I'm a bit of a perfectionist, so I like to know that everyone's getting as good a service as possible. That runs down through Weatherbys. Working for Weatherbys, I've been able to have a professional career that's still connected to the racing and the bloodstock world, but just on the other side of the fence, and that's the most exciting thing.

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