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Adviser profile: Simon Ainley, Christopher Hirsch, Jason Laurie and Amyr Rocha-Lima

Simon Ainley, Christopher Hirsch and Jason Lurie have paved the way for Amyr Rocha-Lima at Holland Hahn & Wills.

The CVs (pt.1)

Simon Ainley 

1990–present: Holland Hahn & Wills, partner

Professional memberships/qualifications:

  • Chartered Financial Planner
  • Chartered MSCI
  • Chartered Wealth Manager
  • Certified Financial Planner
  • Fellow of the Personal Finance Society


The CVs (pt.1)

Simon Ainley 

1990–present: Holland Hahn & Wills, partner

Professional memberships/qualifications:

  • Chartered Financial Planner
  • Chartered MSCI
  • Chartered Wealth Manager
  • Certified Financial Planner
  • Fellow of the Personal Finance Society


The CVs (pt.2)

Christopher Hirsch

2001–present: Holland Hahn & Wills, managing partner

1989–2001: Holland Hahn & Wills, founder/adviser

Professional memberships/qualifications:

  • Chartered Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute
  • PG Dip Management

The CVs (pt.3)

Jason Lurie

2000–present: Holland Hahn & Wills, partner

1991–2000: Lincoln Financial Group, senior unit manager

1987–1991: City Financial Partners, sales manager

1983–1987: The Porchester Group, broker salesman

Professional memberships/qualifications:

  • Chartered Wealth Manager
  • Certified Financial Planner
  • Chartered Financial Planner

The CVs (pt.4)

Amyr Rocha-Lima

2017–present: Holland Hahn & Wills, chartered financial planner

2013–2017: Financial Management, chartered financial planner

2011–2013: MetLife, business development manager

2007–2011: AXA Wealth, business development manager

2006–2007: AXA Wealth, business development support

Professional memberships/qualifications:

  • Advanced Diploma in Financial Planning
  • Fellow of the Personal Finance Society
  • MSc in Wealth Management

Brett's backing

In March of this year, FP Advance director Brett Davidson wrote an article for New Model Adviser® in which he explained the idea of businesses 'going again'.

Instead of an adviser selling when they reach their 50s or 60s, they should think about setting a new, big, audacious goal: a vision for what the business will look like in 20 years’ time.

This is exactly what partners Simon Ainley, Christopher Hirsch and Jason Lurie have done at Hampton Wick-based Holland Hahn & Wills. And they have been working with Davidson for the past five years or so to achieve it.

'We were already fee-based but we wanted to clarify what was important with our service,' says Hirsch. 'We realised we didn’t want to sell, so Brett has been helping us achieve our goals.'

One goal the trio had when we last profiled them in 2011 was to achieve £100 million under advice. Another was to work fewer hours. Last year the firm passed the £100 million target and the partners each work four days a week.

'Previously we were restructuring to make a comfortable lifestyle for the three of us,' Hirsch continues. 'Now we are restructuring to remove ourselves from the day-to-day working in the business.

'Younger people will not only be better trained than we are, but they are also hungrier than we are and have new ideas.'

Next generation

One of these young, hungry people is chartered financial planner Amyr Rocha-Lima, who joined the firm in November last year.

He had also been speaking with Davidson, following a seminar. Here, Davidson spoke about the importance of building a focused financial planning proposition that delivers value to a particular niche.

Rocha-Lima decided this was the direction he wanted to take and Davidson put him in touch with Holland Hahn & Wills.

'It was a bit of serendipity that I found these guys. And they found me at an interesting point in all our careers,' says Rocha-Lima. 'We spent quite a bit of time together in a sort of due diligence process.

'They were figuring out if I was the sort of person they wanted around and potentially even to take this business down the generations in terms of its longevity.'

The partners sing Rocha-Lima’s praises, saying he is a great fit at a time when their plan, based on Davidson’s help, was to look for a new adviser.

They say at Holland Hahn & Wills, Rocha-Lima can learn from and 'shortcut the 60 years' worth of mistakes we’ve made' and 'learn how to be a better financial planner as well as how to run a business successfully.'

Are they preparing Rocha-Lima to take over? ‘We started succession planning early,' says Lurie. 'We had conversations with various financial advice firms to ask what they are doing.

'It is too early to say but we have looked into things such as [an employee-ownership trust]. We don’t want to be advising clients forever. We want to hire more advisers and have them take over.'

Among others, the firm also employs office administrator Luke Smith, who joined as an apprentice at 16. He has now been with them for nearly five years.

'He’s more than halfway through his exams to becoming a chartered financial planner but he already has bags of experience,' says Lurie.

'By the time he is qualified he will have eight or nine years’ experience dealing with clients so it will be a fantastic transition for him. Or if he decides to go elsewhere, hopefully we’ve been able to give him a tremendous learning experience.'

As well as hiring advisers, the partners will put a management team in place. Another of Davidson’s suggestions was to look at every part of the business, including job functions.

Different approach

Hirsch is a firm believer in getting rid of job titles, and concentrating on developing job functions, depending on the strengths and weaknesses of each employee.

'I wrote a blog about this for Brett and then got a call from the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment asking me to do a talk about it at a conference,' says Hirsch. 'I did it but I was never asked back,' he jokes.

As a result, every employee’s job role has changed several times over the past seven years, but always for the better, the partners say. For example, Lurie and Ainley no longer have to complete fact-finds themselves, which Hirsch says they did not enjoy.

'This change has been implemented by Chris because he is our managing partner and he doesn’t see clients,' says Lurie. 'Simon and I do all the fun stuff and Chris does all the tough stuff. That’s why he looks so much older than Simon and I.'

Another thing Ainley does for fun is running. While it may not be everyone’s idea of a good time, Ainley recently completed a 251km ultramarathon through the Sahara Desert, the legendary Marathon des Sables.

Out of around 1,100 participants this year, Ainley came 341st. 'I live vicariously through Simon,' Lurie says. ‘I’m not going to be doing any of that stuff.’ Ainley raised around £7,500 for the Evelina London Children’s Hospital.

When Holland Hahn & Wills last appeared on the New Model Adviser® cover it was looking to expand into the bottom floors of its quirkily tall office building. Now the partners are looking to expand into the space next door as well.

Another imminent next step is to find a great recruiter they can trust to help them. But it seems up to this point the biggest help to the trio has been Davidson.

Of the firm, Davidson says: 'The partners at Holland Hahn & Wills have engaged with everything I’ve asked them to do and, as a result, the business has started to fire. Now they are thinking longer term and have become totally reinvigorated for this third act in their careers.

'They are laying strong foundations for the future, while achieving ever larger turnover and profit numbers. It’s exciting to be part of.'

The fees bit...

Holland Hahn & Wills provides the same service for all clients, which they call '1 + 1 + 1.' This is 1% implementation, 1% ongoing and one review meeting a year.

'We originally had two meetings a year,' Ainley says. 'The problem was you couldn’t necessarily focus on the most important things a client wanted to discuss.

'They often ended up as portfolio review meetings. We want them to focus on their values. This is the whole idea behind the lifestyle approach.'

For new clients, an initial conversation takes place over the phone before a free meeting at the firm’s offices. A financial plan then costs £1,500, half paid upfront.

'This is a distinct fee for a distinct job,' Ainley says. If clients then want to implement, the fee is 1%, and then 1% ongoing.

'We increased our fees to 1% after Brett joined us,' Lurie says. 'Before that, it was 0.85%.'

The investment bit...

Since the firm was last profiled in 2011, the main changes have been the introduction of portfolios for general investment accounts. It has also added some socially responsible portfolios, for which Ainley says the demand is increasing.

'The compromise is understanding and everyone agreeing what we mean by socially responsible,' Ainley says. 'At the moment we use two [passive] equity funds that are socially responsible. We’re still using normal short-dated bond funds because at the moment we don’t see there being a bond fund or portfolio available that doesn’t compromise what we’re trying to achieve. But we think that might change over the next couple of years.' These are Dimensional and Vanguard funds.

Dimensional and Vanguard funds form the core of Holland Hahn & Wills’ portfolios. 'We describe ourselves as being in evidence-based investment,' says Ainley. 'We use some tracking funds for the main market and some asset allocation funds with Dimensional.

'Dimensional would neither call itself active in terms of trying to beat the market nor passive, so we use a combination of those funds,' he says. By this Ainley means Dimensional is evidence-based or asset class based, perhaps even considered to be an active-passive hybrid.

While it buys and holds, as a tracker would, it trades when deemed economically sensible.

Top funds:

  • UK equity: Vanguard FTSE UK All-Share Index
  • UK fixed interest: Dimensional Global Short-Dated Bond
  • Global equity: Dimensional International Core Equity
  • Property: L&G UK Property Trust

The tech box...

Back office: Intelligent Office

Fact-find: Intelligent Office

Cashflow analysis: Voyant

Attitude to risk: Bespoke

Fund analysis: FE Analytics

Fund platforms: Accentric, Seven Investment Management, AJ Bell, IPM

Client portal: Intelligent Office

Other significant tech: Timeline

The Twittersphere...

You can follow updates from Holland Hahn & Wills on Twitter by using the handle @HHW_LLP.

Chartered financial planner Amyr Rocha-Lima is also on Twitter at @a_rochalima.

Here are some Twitter highlights:

And, the finally, the 12-month goal:

To achieve a turnover of £1 million.

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