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New Model Adviser® star profiles: the class of 2016

In the first of a two part feature we look back at the advisers who received the star profile treatment in 2016.

Name: Mark Denley

Firm: Gibbs Denley

Date: 4 January

Location: Cambridgeshire

What you need to know: Since founding the firm in 1990, Denley has grown it by making 16 acquisitions. He said only one of these acquisitions has not been a success.

Investment style: 99% active, 1% passive

They say: ‘All the successful acquisitions were with people who wanted to retire. We only had one that went wrong and it was because they weren’t retiring.’

Top tip: Delegate and pass on responsibilities.

Assets under advice: £375 million

Recurring income: 92%

Name: Mark Denley

Firm: Gibbs Denley

Date: 4 January

Location: Cambridgeshire

What you need to know: Since founding the firm in 1990, Denley has grown it by making 16 acquisitions. He said only one of these acquisitions has not been a success.

Investment style: 99% active, 1% passive

They say: ‘All the successful acquisitions were with people who wanted to retire. We only had one that went wrong and it was because they weren’t retiring.’

Top tip: Delegate and pass on responsibilities.

Assets under advice: £375 million

Recurring income: 92%

Name: Andrew Day

Firm: Depledge Strategic Wealth Management

Date: 11 January

Location: Manchester

What you need to know: Advisers who want to join Day’s firm must demonstrate excellence in four key areas: technical knowledge, inter-personal and communication skills, efficiency and organisation, and determination and hard work.

Investment style: 95% active, 5% passive

They say: ‘I don’t have an exit plan. You don’t want to be making those decisions 20 years in advance. We are concentrating on this year and next.’

Top tip: Let quality employees get on with their jobs.

Assets under advice: £95 million

Recurring income: 86%

Name: Alan Turton

Firm: Rowley Turton

Date: 18 January

Location: Leicester

What you need to know: In 2012 an extra £45,000 was invested into the business. Turton said this investment eventually helped boost profits from £152,000 in 2013 to £325,000 in 2015.

Investment style: 99% active, 1% passive

They say: ‘Because of the need to maximise capital gains tax and ISA allowances, bespoke is the best way and model portfolios are sloppy. We heard of an adviser who ended up with 37 "model" portfolios for that reason, which is bonkers.’

Top tip: Retain some profit in the business every year. Building a capital reserve gives peace of mind and allows you to take advantage of opportunities.

Assets under advice: £98 million

Recurring income: 68%

Names: Alan Bird and Jeremy Pope

Firm: Century Law

Date: 25 January

Location: Windsor

What you need to know: When the firm upped sticks from West Drayton to Windsor in 2011 its support staff all decided to leave, meaning advisers had to start again from scratch, taking their own calls and conducting their own research.

Investment style: 75% active, 25% passive

They say: ‘We work well together. Indeed everyone works together closely, and we like to have fun. One thing is sure, we will never go back to a transactional business. The future is financial planning.’

Top tip: Embrace change. Uncertainty creates a need for advice.

Assets under advice: £44 million

Recurring income: 60%

Name: Sara Malone

Firm: Gresham Financial Planning

Date: 1 February

Location: London

What you need to know: When Malone moved to a limited liability partnership model in 2007 she initially planned to sell the business after a few years. However, once she started developing the business she changed her mind and instead decided to form a succession plan by taking on younger advisers.

Investment style: 80% active, 20% passive

They say: ‘We have built up something worthwhile now and it would be a shame to just be absorbed into some huge company.’

Top tip: Adapt with the times and technological advances.

Assets under advice: £104 million

Recurring income: 82%

Name: Duncan Forbes

Firm: Trident Financial Planning

Date: 8 February

Location: London

What you need to know: Forbes founded Trident in 2010 with co-directors Vice Reeves and Andrew Wagstaff after their previous firm was bought by national advice firm Pantheon Financial in 2007.

Investment style: 10% active, 90% passive

They say: ‘I had a strong vision, which Vince and Andrew both bought into, of a financial planning practice that delivered excellent advice to a limited number of clients.’

Top tip: Do not forget about costs. Do not chase the turnover dream and relegate cost considerations to an afterthought.

Assets under advice: £140 million

Recurring income: 95%

Name: Michelle Midgen

Firm: Consilia Wealth Management

Date: 15 February

Location: St Albans

What you need to know: Midgen has two fellow equity partners in Consilia: Diane Needham and Darren Sunter. When recruiting, the firm looks to hire planners who could potentially become equity partners in the future.

Investment style: 35% active, 65% passive

They say: ‘Consilia means giving advice in Latin, but it is plural, so it is not about a one-off transaction’

Top tip: Implement repeatable systems at the outset.

Assets under advice: £110 million

Recurring income: 80%

Name: Richard Liddiard

Firm: The Minster Partnership

Date: 22 February

Location: Dorset

What you need to know: Liddiard was a financial adviser 30 years ago, but became disillusioned with the old model so left to focus on mortgages. When the retail distribution review (RDR) was announced he decided to return to being a full IFA.

Investment style: 75% active, 25% passive

They say: ‘As financial services have become better and more refined, I have always tried to be the best I can be in the circumstances. But the biggest and best change was the RDR.’

Top tip: At the end of each day, ask yourself: am I nearer or further away from my goals?

Assets under advice: £80 million

Recurring income: 55%

Name: Neil Merryweather

Firm: Rowanmoor Consultancy

Date: 29 February

Location: Salisbury

What you need to know: The firm is owned by Sipp and SSAS provider Rowanmoor Pensions. Despite this, Merryweather has made sure the advice firm is independent from the Sipp business to ensure it can exist without the support of its parent.

Investment style: 85% active, 15% passive

They say: ‘We have never done self-employed. It has an air of impermanence. When we take on an employee, we want them for the long term.’

Top tip: Do not rush in: if the latest great new idea is that good, it will still be so tomorrow.

Assets under advice: £295 million

Recurring income: 73%

Name: Geordie Bulmer

Firm: Aisa Group

Date: 7 March

Location: Wiltshere

What you need to know: In 2016 Bulmer became a controlling partner in Aisa Retirement Planning, which was set up to take advantage of the increase in demand for pension advice following the introduction of pension freedoms.

Investment style: 72% active, 28% passive

They say: ‘The last 12 months have been very good and I’ve taken on more clients than ever before, despite the lack of sleep.’

Top tip: Recognise opportunities and build any new ideas into your ongoing strategy for the next three years.

Assets under advice: £110 million

Recurring income: 72%

Name: Jonathon Crisp

Firm: Henson Crisp

Date: 14 March

Location: Peterborough

What you need to know: Crisp founded the business in 2009 with Tracey Henson. However, he discovered that they wanted different things from the business so bought our Henson five years ago.

Investment style: 99% active, 1% passive

They say: ‘There is no particular desire to hit, say, £1 million income in three years. It’s never been about that, but rather to achieve the kind of advice outcomes we’ve talked about. There’s no better feeling than that.’

Top tip: Invest in your team in terms of both time and qualifications.

Assets under advice: £135 million

Recurring income: 75%

Name: Matt Phillips

Firm: Thomas Miller Investment

Date: 21 March

Location: London

What you need to know: The firm has had a number of owners since Philips joined 10 years ago, including accountancy firm BDO and private equity firm Oakley Capital. It is now owned by the Thomas Miller group, which traces its history back to a shipping insurer 135 years ago.

Investment style: 58% active, 42% passive

They say: ‘The highs come when clients say you have changed their life. Also, the breaking into profit has validated my belief that you can build a profitable business [of this size], give clients good financial advice and treat them fairly. But we are not done yet.’

Top tip: Put structure and process around what you can; tailor the rest.

Assets under advice: £660 million

Recurring income: 88%

Name: Mike Passfield

Firm: Greenwood Financial Planning

Date: 29 March

Location: Essex

What you need to know: When he set Greenwood up in 2010 one of the first things Passfield did was take a year-long course in financial planning with Prestwood Group chairman Paul Etheridge. This taught him a number of lessons, including to charge retainers.

Investment style: 65% active, 35% passive

They say: ‘Doing this job you learn about the mistakes that clients make in life: putting it all off and not spending more time with their families.’

Top tip: Maintain first-class knowledge.

Assets under advice: £60 million

Recurring income: 60%

Name: Bill Smith

Firm: Scotia Wealth Management

Date: 4 April

Location: Edinburgh

What you need to know: Smith previously appeared on the cover of New Model Adviser® in 2008 with Glasgow-based Scotia Independent Financial Services. He moved cities and set up his new firm in 2011.

Investment style: 70% active, 30% passive

They say: ‘Profits are not massive. It is more about getting the advice right consistently.’

Top tip: If you would not recommend an investment to your mother, do not recommend it to a client. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.’

Assets under advice: £70 million

Recurring income: 60%

Name: Stephen Watson

Firm: Watson French Limited

Date: 11 April

Location: Truro

What you need to know: Watson has written an e-book called How to Defuse a Pension Time Bomb, which examines the potential risks to employers of default investment funds in auto-enrolled pensions.

Investment style: 45% active, 55% passive

They say: ‘Bringing in graduates has given the firm a new dynamic and it makes sense for succession planning.’

Top tip: Know what you want and when you want it.

Assets under advice: £70 million

Recurring income: 81%

Name: Graham Clarkson

Firm: Clarkson Wayman Ball

Date: 18 April

Location: Leicestershire

What you need to know: Clarkson overhauled his firm in 2012, after becoming disillusioned with his role as chief executive. After meeting with consultant Simon Hellier he restructure the business and relieved himself of some of the management duties.

Investment style: 100% active

They say: ‘Professional qualifications are important and we all do a lot of continuing professional development. But that does not teach you how to become a director and improve things like working conditions for staff, consistency of processes and client service.’

Top tip: The day you stop learning or lose the willingness to learn is the day to step aside.

Assets under advice: £177 million

Recurring income: 62%

Name: John Fachiri

Firm: John Fachiri

Date: 25 April

Location: Wirral

What you need to know: Fachiri has been pushing a new model agenda for around 10 years. However, his business took a hit when he divorced from his co-director and wife of 28 years in 2014. Now remarried, Fachiri is optimistic his business will get back on track.

Investment style: 60% active, 40% passive

They say: ‘I don’t think you need to retire from this profession any more. I am nearly 57 and I would like to continue my relationship with clients beyond 65.’

Top tip: Keep the client base small and niche.

Assets under advice: £24 million

Recurring income: 75%

Name: Caroline Anstee

Firm: Anstee & Co.

Date: 2 May

Location: Kettering

What you need to know: Anstee has previously built firms around financial education and giving advice to women. However, her latest business has broadened out these goals and looks to help everyone, regardless of gender or wealth.

Investment style: 80% active, 20% passive

They say: ‘I have to take a commercial view, but if you see one client who isn’t profitable they might refer you to someone who is. I always look at the bigger picture.’

Top tip: Promote the profession in a positive way.

Assets under advice: £65 million

Recurring income: 35%

Name: Marco Vallone

Firm: Brighton Financial Ltd

Date: 9 May

Location: Hove

What you need to know: When Vallone set up the firm in 2004 he initially prioritised building client numbers. He attributes the change in the business to cashflow modelling, as it changed the nature of clients’ relationship with products.

Investment style: 30% active, 70% passive

They say: ‘I only talk to clients about performance in terms of its relationship with risk and loss.’

Top tip: Be robust and consistent in your client contact. Clients appreciate being informed and so few professionals stay in touch these days. It is an easy win.

Assets under advice: £15 million

Recurring income: 50%

Name: Richard Fletcher

Firm: McHardy Financial

Date: 16 May

Location: Aberdeen

What you need to know: McHardy Financial was born when Fletcher helped some colleagues at Borland Insurance buy a company that was about to have £500,000 of commission switched off. He set about moving the firm away from group business to ongoing advice for individuals.

Investment style: 60% active, 40% passive

They say: ‘We are all relatively young at McHardy and it is important we work with smiles on our faces. Over the past six months there has been a good vibe here.’

Top tip: Give staff a platform, listen and take on board their ideas and feedback.

Assets under advice: £150 million

Recurring income: 45%

Name: Paul Darley

Firm: Mitten Clarke Wealth Management

Date: 23 May

Location: Stoke-on-Trent

What you need to know: Darley was hired to run the wealth management arm of accountancy firm Mitten Clarke in 2008. He built the business around cashflow modelling and by focussing on offering advice to small business owners.

Investment style: 78% active, 22% passive

They say: ‘We as advisers need to change our mind-set and realise we have a moral obligation to train paraplanners and develop them into advisers.’

Top tip: Manage clients’ expectations on everything. We are not magicians but we will always do our best to make sure our clients have a positive experience.

Assets under advice: £50 million

Recurring income: 64%

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