14 September 2023
“It is tough to run a business. Owners often don’t have time to think of their own future”
Rockwell, which manages €250 million on behalf of about 6,500 clients, teamed up with The Currency for a survey of 450 SME owners. Founder Robert Whelan talks through the findings of the survey and tells his own business story.
Tucked neatly behind a door on Francis Street in Dublin 8, home to many of Ireland’s best antiques shops, is the path to Rockwell. The door leads to a sunlit private alleyway lined with striking green plants that are only recognisable as artificial on close inspection.
Robert Whelan, the founder and chief executive of Rockwell, is waiting for me in his second-floor office. He is self-deprecating. However, since founding Rockwell in May 2012, Whelan has built a significant business that now manages €250 million on behalf of about 6,500 clients who trust his company to look after their pensions, investments, employee benefits and wealth.
“I love being on Francis Street,” Whelan explains. “There is an amazing collection of businesses here and all walks of life go by.”
Whelan is from Carlow but he knows Dublin’s Liberties; Cornmarket, where he spent the first decade of his career in financial services, is just a few hundred yards away.
Rockwell employs 27 people. The business is growing fast, doubling in size during the pandemic. In the last two years, it made four small bolt-on acquisitions, and it is in the market for more.
“We’re currently in talks about three more acquisitions,” Whelan said. “We see growth coming organically by working more with our existing client base and winning new customers, as well as from acquisitions.”
I’m meeting Whelan partly to hear his story, but also to discuss the findings of a new SME survey of around 450 business owners who are also valued members of The Currency.