Dr Emma Black

CEO, North East

Sector: Cash Management

Emma Black runs a successful cash management service and has been named as Cash Management Woman of the Year by Lawyer International at the Legal 100 2021 Awards.

Where do you call home? 

My heart is in the North East. When I was younger my Dad’s job working with sporting teams took us all over the country, but we always came back home eventually! I now live in Newcastle most of the time, but also have property and family on my fiancé’s side in Lincolnshire so we spend a lot of time there too.

Tell us about your role?  

I am CEO of Cascade Cash Management, which is on a mission to make savings simple, helping people to reach their savings goals faster, smarter and happier. The service has over 5,500 savings accounts on offer from Instant Access to 5 years. Cascade delivers the highest returns for savers and greatest possible depositor protection too. The team and I are passionate about savings and delivering the best possible outcomes administering funds on behalf of clients providing direct and independent access to providers. Partners including IFA’s, solicitors, attorneys and accountants can self-brand the product for presentation to their own clients. We have won many awards over the last few years, including being named as Cash Management Woman of the Year by Lawyer International in the Legal 100 2021 Awards.

How did you get to where you are today? 

I achieved a PhD from Durham University and twelve years ago entered the world of finance, which is traditionally male dominated. I have recently completed a qualification from Harvard Business School on Sustainable Business Strategy, which I enjoyed immensely and helped me refocus on being a purpose-driven business, bringing change to the way in which we interact with and design financial products and a new drive to our journey here at Cascade. Our business started from my kitchen table in Durham, when brainstorming with my brother Stephen Black and colleague Tristan de Gabiole. Cascade was launched within another business, but six years ago, I took over the helm, and it became an independent company following a successful spin- out. I also have a number of business interests, including being co-founder of GB Bank, a new challenger bank focussed on getting Britain building, and being part of the CISI both in the North East and nationally too to raise in cash management. I am immensely proud of the unique offering created by Cascade and am determined to keep innovating to ensure we keep creatively helping people reach their savings goals in a faster, smarter and happier way.

What struggles or obstacles did you face along the way? 

As with all new companies, changes had to be made along the way to ensure success. Wherever there are people involved there are challenges but each one has helped grow who I am as a leader and who we are as a team. Like everyone in business, lockdown and the pandemic had its challenges, especially the drop in interest rates. Luckily the depositor protection we offer was a big draw and we pivoted to offer strong services quickly. Most recently, a change in board structure and an internal restructure to draw out true talent, as well as the appointment of our head of operations, Georgia Boddy, has helped the team and I deliver an excellent, award-winning service.

Describe the moment you first got a feel for success? 

The day the portal went live for Cascade was a key moment for us. I knew by adopting digital convenient solutions coupled with traditional customer focus with a hybrid offering would help us to best meet our saver’s needs. The online portal is the only one of its kind in the UK allowing unbiased cash solutions meaning that clients don’t have to choose only one bank. With the online portal and Cascade’s client support team, all banks are accessed quickly and easily, on a daily basis. The growth from that has allowed us to become a business with purpose, helping people reach financial goals and become homeowners, travel the world, gain greater financial protection and more.

Do you have any advice for aspiring young females? 

Believe in yourself and in the worth of your ideas and your capabilities to deliver them. Make sure you work relentlessly every day, in a disciplined and focussed way, to bring your ideas to life. Recruit like-minded people to join you on your journey – people who share similar passions with complementary ideas and skillsets. Then enjoy spending each and every day with them to be a positive catalyst for others for however long you can.

What advice would you give to your younger self?  

Make sure you work with people who share similar values and dreams as you. Work together to achieve them. Enjoy each and every day.

What three words inspire you and encourage a positive path?  

Purpose. Integrity. Trust.

We must have a purpose to guide us through life – for me, that’s based on leaving the world a bit better for us having been here. We must do what we say are going do, and be disciplined to that. This helps us to build trust in ourselves and for others to trust and rely upon us too. These three words are so important and certainly help keep me focussed.

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