New Model Adviser - For Professional Investors

Register to get unlimited access to Citywire’s fund manager database. Registration is free and only takes a minute.

Adviser Profile: Andrew and Sarah Elson of Beaufort Financial Planning

3 Comments
Adviser Profile: Andrew and Sarah Elson of Beaufort Financial Planning

Despite upheaval following the Honister network’s collapse, Andrew and Sarah Elson’s principled and personal approach has left Beaufort Financial Planning in better shape than ever.

What does it take to turn a business upside down? In Andrew Elson’s case, it was just one phone call.

‘Imagine building up a really good business. Your clients love you, you’re doing great, then everything gets turned off,’ he says. The turning point in Elson’s case was the unexpected collapse of the Honister network, of which he was a part before having to rebuild his business.

They say everything happens for a reason. Although he may not have been feeling particularly philosophical at the time, the saying nonetheless rings true for Andrew, whose accredited and chartered firm, Beaufort Financial Planning, is now doing better than ever.

SARAH ELSON CV

  • 2012-present Beaufort Financial Planning (Yorkshire) Limited, practice manager/director and financial planner
  • 2008-2012 Millfield Partnership (which became Bates Investment Services and then Honister Partners), practice manager/ director
  • 2003-2008 Scottish Widows Bank, business development manager for mortgages
  • 2001-2003 Lloyds TSB Bank, senior branch (bank) manager
  • 1997-2001 Lloyds TSB Bank, financial adviser

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS/QUALIFICATIONS

  • Diploma in Financial Planning DipPFS
  • Accredited paraplanner APP ACSI
  • Long-term care – CF8
  • Equity release – CF7, HR1
  • Currently studying for CFP

Stronger together

The Yorkshire-based firm is part of the Beaufort Group of companies, a partnership of advisory firms with a collective vision and a centralised investment proposition. Andrew was in talks with the group just before Honister’s collapse in 2012, and joined Beaufort Group when he reauthorised just three weeks after receiving the unexpected news.

The Beaufort Group is not the only partnership and collective vision that Beaufort Financial Planning relies on, however, as he runs the firm alongside his wife, Sarah. The husband and wife duo are visibly upbeat, and it is clear that their characters complement each other, making for a balanced firm with a family feel.

They met while working at Lloyds Bank, and when Andrew set up shop in 2004 Sarah did a stint in business development at Scottish Widows before joining him as a director in 2008.

At the time, the firm was part of Honister Partners, and had already operated under a number of names including the Millfield Partnership and Bates Investment Services, as the networks underwent various rebrands and mergers. The name changes may have come thick and fast, but client service at Beaufort was a constant.

New clients, many of whom are pre-retirement and have come on board since the pension freedoms, can have up to five meetings with the team before becoming a client.

‘A lot of firms try to do on-boarding quite quickly, within two meetings,’ Andrew says. ‘I like to do four or five. If you’re going to have a relationship with me for the next 40 years then we make sure it starts off on the right foot. We don’t rush things.’

ANDREW ELSON CV

  • 2012-present Beaufort Financial Planning (Yorkshire) Limited, practice manager/director and financial planner
  • 2004-2012 Millfield Partnership (which became Bates Investment Services and then Honister Partners), IFA / managing director
  • 1994-2004 Lloyds TSB Bank, financial adviser

PROFESSIONAL MEMBERSHIPS/QUALIFICATIONS

  • Certified financial planner CFP
  • Fellow of the Personal Finance Society FPFS
  • Chartered financial planner
  • G60 pension specialist
  • Long-term care – CF8
  • Equity release – CF7, HR1

Going with the flow

This string of client meetings does not just build a relationship; it allows the team to draw out all the information needed to build a detailed cashflow plan. Cashflow planning is at the heart of the firm, and is clearly Sarah’s forte.

While Andrew would describe himself as ‘the main adviser and chief bottle washer’, Sarah, also a qualified financial planner, is a detailed notetaker and enjoys prising out a client’s goals and aspirations before building a cashflow model using Truth software. Discussions around a client’s dreams often lead Sarah to Amazon, where she buys new clients a ‘wow gift’.

‘I did a workshop with [financial services coach] Michelle Hoskin and she encouraged us to think of ways we can "wow" our clients,’ she says.

‘When we’re doing the meeting for the cashflow plan I ask them where they’ve always wanted to go. I might then send them a travel guide, for example, after the first cashflow plan.’

FEES

All Beaufort’s new clients receive a full lifetime cashflow plan, created using Truth software. For this, Beaufort charges a flat fee of £2,500 plus VAT, paid upfront. This is classed as a totally separate piece of work and is the basis for all work for the client in the future. If clients need further work such as new investments, pensions or consolidating existing schemes, the next set of fees is broken into four sections:

1. Situation analysis – typically £750

2. Research existing policies (if needed) is charged per policy. For a standard pension policy this is £350 per policy

3. Research the market for a suitable solution, provider and investment strategy – typically £1,500

4. Implementation – 1% of the amount invested

This means someone investing £250,000 made up of two pension plans to be reviewed, as well as a cash contribution, would pay £750 plus £700, plus £1,500 plus £2,500 = £5,450 = 2.18% of the amount invested.

Fees are charged for each of the first three steps, and a separate fee is charged for implementation. Ongoing fees are typically 1% of the assets managed. Clients pay a monthly standing order of £75 per month plus VAT to cover the cost of updating their financial plan each year.  

Wider world

Talk then turns to travel. The pair, who got married in an ice hotel in Sweden, are not short of a story on the topic. They are well travelled, as is their son Connor, who I would confidently guess has seen more of the world than most 11-year-olds.

For Sarah, family globetrotting is all about living out the firm’s philosophy.

‘We encourage clients to live their lives, spend their money and to go travelling. So I think we need to practice what we preach.’ Good on them: not all business owners are able to build a model that can withstand the directors travelling the world throughout the year.

They are able to make it work with the help of Beaufort’s strong team and some meticulous planning, often booking in client meetings a year in advance. Despite deliberating for several years over whether they should go ahead with scheduling client meetings so far in the future, Andrew says it has really freed up their time.

‘I pushed back doing it, thinking my clients wouldn’t like it, but they think it’s a fantastic idea,’ he says. ‘Now we get fewer enquiries from them as they store them up for the meeting unless it’s urgent.’

Holding the fort behind the scenes is the support team. Comprising administrators and paraplanners, the team has stayed at a consistent number over the years, though people have come and gone.

‘We’ve had people join us who have done a good job but have had ideas about where they’ve wanted to go, and we weren’t the right firm to help them get there,’ Andrew says.

‘You’ve got to be prepared for them to go, and if they left you in a better place than they found you then it’s been a success.’

Andrew takes a level-headed view when it comes to hiring and, unlike many, is not afraid to invest in his staff even though they might move on.

‘What happens if I invest in my staff and they leave? Well, what happens if you don’t invest in your staff and they stay?’ he says.

Describing the support team as Beaufort’s backbone, it is no surprise that Andrew and Sarah do not expect them to hold the fort during their excursions without returning the favour.

The team go on holiday every year, and this year spent a few days soaking up the culture (and perhaps a few beers) in Berlin. Not only are they holiday-goers, the Elsons are also thrill seekers. Rock climbing and husky sledding are welcome thrills for Andrew and Sarah, but where the team does not take risks is with clients’ money.

Holidays and sunshine aside, Beaufort’s succession plan is dependent on the team too. Andrew and Sarah hope to pass the ownership of the firm to them over time to ensure that Beaufort’s clients continue to receive the consistent and organised service they pride themselves on.

Consistency is king in Beaufort’s fund selection screening

All investment is outsourced to the Beaufort Group’s centralised discretionary investment service run by Beaufort Investment Management (BIM). The service offers 42 model portfolios, all with a 12-year record: 10 ethical, 10 passive, 10 enhanced passive (with a tactical active overlay) and 12 risk-rated actively managed portfolios including two income portfolios.

Funds are researched, scored and selected using the investment team’s unique Pretti approach: process, returns, expenses, team, talent and ideology, which ensures the underlying funds, fund managers and fund groups deliver a high level of consistency.

The majority of their clients use BIM’s proposition, with most using the risk-rated, actively managed portfolios. Discretionary fund managers or a combination of BIM’s service with DFMs are also used to offer further diversification for clients needing a bespoke solution, such as capital gains tax planning. BIM’s investment service is also available to financial advisers outside the Beaufort Group.

  • ACTIVE FUNDS: 95%
  • PASSIVE FUNDS: 5%

Ties that bind

I know the question most of you are dying to ask: what’s it like to work in a husband and wife team? There are no problems to report. Andrew and Sarah work well together.

‘At times there are things you can say to your wife that you can’t say to a staff member without going through an employment tribunal, but also sometimes you just both get it,’ Andrew says.

Despite then covering his ears when I ask Sarah what it is like to work alongside him, they assure me that their personal partnership works in their favour, particularly when it comes to client meetings. Offering both a male and a female perspective on a situation is reassuring for clients, and Andrew and Sarah’s partnership conveys a close-knit family feel that immediately says they care.

Their various charitable certificates further reinforce this idea, along with the numerous family photos scattered around the meeting room. Sarah does add that working with your husband means you cannot keep your online shopping habits secret by getting everything delivered to the office, but if this is her main qualm then I am confident the business partnership is a sound arrangement.

All in all, Andrew and Sarah’s ‘live life to the full’ approach goes hand in hand with Beaufort Financial Planning’s ethos. The look on a client’s face when they realise they can fulfil their bucket list dreams is what it is all about for the duo, and they certainly embody this principle.

FIVE TOP TIPS

  1. Treat others as you would want to be treated.
  2. Invest in your staff to allow them to be the best they can be and then get out of their way.
  3. Look after your clients and they will look after you.
  4. Keep learning and growing. Never stand still.
  5. Invest in your team’s infrastructure so you can deliver a fantastic client experience.

Leave a comment!

Please sign in or register to comment. It is free to register and only takes a minute or two.
Comment & analysis

Twitter