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New Model Adviser® star profiles: the class of 2016... part II

The last 12 months saw a fresh batch of advisers get the star profile treatment. In the second of a two part feature we look back at the class of 2016.

Name: Darren Cooke

Firm: Red Circle Financial Planning

Date: 30 May

Location: Derbyshire

What you need to know: After his appearance on the New Model Adviser® cover Cooke set up a petition asking the government to ban cold calling about pensions and investments. It gained enough support that the Treasury announced plans to consult on introducing a ban.

Investment style: 45% active, 55% passive

They say: ‘I plan to grow from 49 clients to 80 or 100, depending on their service level, in the next two years. That will give me a more than sustainable level of fees for the income to sustain my family.’

Top tip: Seek help when you need it and pay for it if you need to; you cannot do everything yourself.

Assets under advice: £20 million

Recurring income: 60%

Name: Darren Cooke

Firm: Red Circle Financial Planning

Date: 30 May

Location: Derbyshire

What you need to know: After his appearance on the New Model Adviser® cover Cooke set up a petition asking the government to ban cold calling about pensions and investments. It gained enough support that the Treasury announced plans to consult on introducing a ban.

Investment style: 45% active, 55% passive

They say: ‘I plan to grow from 49 clients to 80 or 100, depending on their service level, in the next two years. That will give me a more than sustainable level of fees for the income to sustain my family.’

Top tip: Seek help when you need it and pay for it if you need to; you cannot do everything yourself.

Assets under advice: £20 million

Recurring income: 60%

Name: James Priday

Firm: Prydis Wealth

Date: 6 June

Location: Exeter

What you need to know: As well as running Prydis Wealth, Priday has set up a discretionary fund manager called P1 Investments and direct to consumer platform called Strawberry Invest.

Investment style: 80% active, 20% passive

They say: ‘The bigger entities get, the less people know each other and that is a challenge for us already.’

Top tip: Embrace technology; it is easier than you think and it pays dividends.

Assets under advice: £175 million

Recurring income: 65%

Name: Serena van der Meulen

Firm: Van der Meulen Associates

Date: 13 June

Location: Doncaster

What you need to know: Van der Meulen Associates became directly authorised last year after the Sesame network closed to investment advisers. The firm specialises in helping vulnerable clients.

Investment style: 80% active, 20% passive

They say: ‘You have to accept that change happens and it is good because it makes you reassess what you are doing and you learn lessons about how to run a business.’

Top tip: Live by your diary. Every part of my day is blocked out.

Assets under advice: £10 million

Recurring income: 60%

Name: Bill Green

Firm: H&D Wealth

Date: 20 June

Location: Maidstone

What you need to know: H&D Wealth can trace its history to a company that was founded in 1797. Its current guise began in 1987 when Green and colleagues completed a management buy-out of the life and pensions arm, and set about promoting a new model agenda.

Investment style: 75% active, 25% passive

They say: ‘It has taken us a long time to get to our current size. But we are comfortable with that. There are always parts of the business that we could upgrade or improve. But we are not prepared to make large, upfront risky investments, or grow for the sake of it.’

Top tip: Make sure your communication with staff and clients is effective.

Assets under advice: £150 million

Recurring income: 50%

Name: Lee Hartley

Firm: Fairstone Financial Management

Date: 27 June

Location: London

What you need to know: Fairstone was previously known as Moneygate Group. It has grown through acquisitions and uses a model known as the downstream buy-out to integrate firms into the main business first.

Investment style: 68% active, 32% passive

They say: ‘I will still be here for a good number of years after our investors choose to take a return on their investment. I enjoy coming to work.’

Top tip: Avoid high-risk products at all costs. Tax schemes do not work in the long run and the clue is in the title when it comes to unregulated collective investment schemes.

Assets under advice: £6 billion

Recurring income: 55%

Names: Paul Jackson and Amira Norris

Firm: Professional Practice Services

Date: 11 July

Location: Bromsgrove

What you need to know: Professional Practice Services has made its name by specialising in advice for vets.

They say: ‘In the future, we need to work more efficiently so we can have a better work-life balance.’

Top tip: Strive for continuous improvement and promote learning within your team. Set your standards high and don’t allow for complacency.

Assets under advice: £90 million

Recurring income: 63%

Name: Stuart Jefferies

Firm: Singular Financial Planning

Date: 18 July

Location: Worcestershire

What you need to know: Jefferies runs Singular Financial Planning with his wife and co-director Heather. Between them they have grown the business by adding two to five clients every year since starting in 2009.

They say: ‘If you run your business the way investment companies want you to and manage investments very actively, you probably will struggle.’

Top tip: Qualifications do not necessarily make you a better adviser but they do help to open doors, especially with other professionals.

Assets under advice: £21 million

Recurring income: 84%

Name: John Thornton

Firm: Cansdales Ltd

Date: 25 July

Location: Amersham

What you need to know: Thorton trained as an adviser under his father Doug at Thornton Lambert between 1992 and 2002. He moved to national firm Origen Financial Services when the Thornton Lambert client bank was sold to Cansdales, but was reunited with these clients in 2005 when the accountancy asked him to join the advice firm.

They say: ‘It took a lot of hard work, time and investment to change that culture towards being more accountable and transparent about charging.'

Top tip: Always stick to a well-diversified portfolio.

Assets under advice: £57 million

Recurring income: 71%

Names: Paul Clough and Mike McGurrell

Firm: Grainger Financial Planning

Date: 5 September

Location: Sunderland

What you need to know: The pair started out in advice at national firm Bluefin. They set out alone in 2010 and quickly based their business around cashflow modelling.

Investment style: 40% active, 60% passive

They say: ‘My advice to any adviser thinking about setting up alone is to do it. Just make sure you know what you’re doing.’

Top tip: Do not be greedy when it comes to setting your initial fees.

Assets under advice: £33 million

Recurring income: 72%

Name: Neil Cowie

Firm: Robson Laidler Financial Planning

Date: 12 September

Location: Newcastle upon Tyne

What you need to know: Robson Laidler is a two person firm, with Cowie’s wife Amanda the other chartered financial planner in the business. It is the advice arm of an accountancy business.

Investment style: 90% active, 10% passive

They say: ‘There has been a growing realisation that if you rely on selling products or investments you risk your service becoming commoditised and the client can buy it from the internet instead.’

Top tip: Recognise and articulate where you can add value to clients.

Assets under advice: £63 million

Recurring income: 71%

Name: Simon Yates

Firm: Enlightened Money

Date: 19 September

Location: Chester

What you need to know: Yates was previously a director at his father’s IFA business Yates & Co. He broke away in 2013 because he felt stifled by the world of transactional advice.

Investment style: 100% active

They say: ‘Too many financial planners think they are not creative, but they can be. Through practice, I realised I can be logical and creative and it explained why I felt like a fish out of water in the strictly mathematical world of transactional advice.’

Top tip: People worry about money, or the perceived lack of it, so help clients to relax and enjoy their lives.

Assets under advice: £20 million

Recurring income: 81%

Name: Thomas Dickson

Firm: Essential Money

Date: 26 September

Location: Birmingham

What you need to know: Essential Money has a very specialist niche: advising dentists. Dickson began to investigate the specialism in 1999 when a marketing intern suggested it. Advising dentists was such a success it became the core of the business.

Investment style: 100% passive

They say: ‘We used to take on dental associates earning £120,000; now they are more likely to be on £50,000 or £60,000, because the contract they have with the NHS is completely different. But it is still a good income and we still act for them.’

Top tip: Specialise by working out who your ideal client is.

Assets under advice: £30 million

Recurring income: 54%

Name: Ken Simpson

Firm: Independent Benefits Consultancy

Date: 3 October

Location: Glasgow

What you need to know: Simpson specialises in pension transfer advice, and has seen an increase in demand since the pension freedoms were introduced in April 2015. However, he does not deal with insistent clients who may want to act against his advice.

Investment style: 30% active, 70% passive

They say: ‘The value of things can change very quickly. Just ask any black cab driver who intended to sell their licence plate to fund their retirement. It’s now worth heehaw, because things change.’

Top tip: Surround yourself with positive people.

Assets under advice: £78 million

Recurring income: 40%

Name: Chris Welsford

Firm: Ayres Punchard

Date: 10 October

Location: Isle of Wight

What you need to know: Welsford has focussed on building a small, sustainable business on the Isle of Wight. Ayres Punchard currently has 38 clients and Welsford does not plan to grow this beyond 50.

Investment style: 98% active, 2% passive

They say: ‘A founding principle of our firm is that we treat our clients with respect, and part of that respect has to be that they know what they’re being charged.’

Top tip: Percentage fees respect neither you nor your client. Only charge for the work you do, but never undervalue your work.

Assets under advice: £14 million

Recurring income: 80%

Name: Richard Skerritt

Firm: Skerritt Consultants

Date: 17 October

Location: Brighton

What you need to know: Skerritt and his firm first appeared on the New Model Adviser® cover in 2006. Since then the company has grown to the point where it can now target its first billion of funds under management.

Investment style: 70% active, 30% passive

They say: ‘There are a lot of good IFAs out there but there aren’t necessarily a lot of good businessmen. I think that’s where a lot of people have struggled.’

Top tip: Do all you can for local charities and social causes, not for publicity, but to give something back.

Assets under advice: £740 million

Recurring income: 96%

Name: Ruth Sturkey

Firm: The Red House Consulting

Date: 24 October

Location: London

What you need to know: The Red House Consulting has based itself around offering comprehensive advice to famous clients, including Sting and Peter Gabriel.

Investment style: 100% passive

They say: ‘We have an ageing client bank. I have recruited a young team deliberately so they can attract new clients of a similar age.’

Top tip: Create an environment in which everyone can learn from each other and grow.

Assets under advice: £108 million

Recurring income: 83%

Name: Michael Fairweather

Firm: Real Life Planning

Date: 31 October

Location: Edinburgh

What you need to know: Fairweather set up a financial planning business in 2011 after having his own life planning moment. He previously worked in a private client bank, but realised that was not what he wanted to do in 2008 after attending a course run by life planning guru George Kinder.

Investment style: 100% passive

They say: ‘I have come across clients who were earning £100,000 a year but they were not happy because they wanted to set up on their own but wouldn’t risk leaving their jobs.’

Top tip: Look up George Kinder’s approach to life planning. It was life-changing for me and my clients.

Assets under advice: £10 million

Recurring income: 80%

Name: Jerry Wellington

Firm: Financial Planning Concepts

Date: 7 November

Location: Truro

What you need to know: Wellington was inspired to go solo from previous New Model Adviser® cover star Stephen Watson’s firm in 2006 after attending a Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) conference in San Diego.

Investment style: 92% active, 8% passive

They say: ‘Some IFAs start with their pricing model, or setting a minimum investment, but that’s the wrong way. Concentrate on the client experience and building loyalty, and everything else will follow.’

Top tip: Join organisations such as MDRT, Strategic Coach, or a study group to keep yourself motivated.

Assets under advice: £19 million

Recurring income: 85%

Name: Sarah Brown

Firm: Fidelium Financial Planners

Date: 14 November

Location: Berkhamsted

What you need to know: Brown is very much at the centre of the firm she founded in 2013, but she has support from her team. Other staff include adviser Aleks Hulkes, who joined in 2014.

Investment style: 5% active, 95% passive

They say: ‘It’s life planning, not financial planning. In that respect listening is the biggest asset any IFA can have. It is imperative to understand client fears and body language, and beyond that, it’s the client’s goals that matter, not money.’

Top tip: Ensure staff understand the company ethos and values.

Assets under advice: £69 million

Recurring income: 68%

Name: Robert Forbes

Firm: Stadden Forbes

Date: 21 November

Location: London

What you need to know: Forbes previously appeared on the New Model Adviser® cover in 2014 with his old firm Plutus Wealth Management. He left his previous firm after becoming frustrated with its self-employed adviser model.

Investment style: 15% active, 85% passive

They say: ‘The client knows you will remember all the financial stuff. But if you remember how they like their tea or coffee, you will stand out.’

Top tip: Listen to everyone. There is no-one on the planet you cannot learn something from.

Assets under advice: £70 million

Recurring income: 80%

Names: Andrew Elson and Sarah Elson

Firm: Beaufort Financial Planning

Date: 28 November

Location: Yorkshire

What you need to know: The Elsons’ firm is part of the Beaufort partnership of advice firms. They joined after previous network Honister collapsed in 2012.

Investment style: 95% active, 5% passive

They say: ‘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.’

Top tip: Invest in your team’s infrastructure so you can deliver a fantastic client experience.

Assets under advice: £41 million

Recurring income: 77%

Name: Lee Waters

Firm: Barwells Wealth

Date: 5 December

Location: East Sussex

What you need to know: Barwells has had a relationship with law firm QualitySolicitors for the past 26 years, which has driven clients to its business.

Investment style: 95% active, 5% passive

They say: ‘We’re not flashy, we’re not trying to be all things to all men. We’re dull and boring, but we do dull and boring quite well.’

Top tip: Do it your way and do not worry about what everyone else is doing.

Assets under advice: £73 million

Recurring income: 73%

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