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Top 100: Our final flurry of fantastic firms

Take a look at the final flurry of 25 financial planning firms in this year's New Model Adviser® Top 100. The list is in alphabetical order.

Ian Thomas

Pilot Financial Planning
Dartmouth

Pilot Financial Planning managing director Ian Thomas has a background working for platforms and fund managers, but after being influenced by the IFP he decided to become an adviser.

Thomas knew he wanted to run a new model advice firm when he launched Pilot in 2011. The firm kick-started with a fee-based, process-led business grounded in the principles of financial planning.

Although Thomas admits he underestimated the amount of work involved in starting a business from scratch, he has found a niche among schools and NHS staff, and has more than doubled assets under advice over the past 12 months.

Ian Thomas

Pilot Financial Planning
Dartmouth

Pilot Financial Planning managing director Ian Thomas has a background working for platforms and fund managers, but after being influenced by the IFP he decided to become an adviser.

Thomas knew he wanted to run a new model advice firm when he launched Pilot in 2011. The firm kick-started with a fee-based, process-led business grounded in the principles of financial planning.

Although Thomas admits he underestimated the amount of work involved in starting a business from scratch, he has found a niche among schools and NHS staff, and has more than doubled assets under advice over the past 12 months.

Georgina Partridge

Plutus Wealth Management
London

In contrast to most advice firms, London-based Plutus Wealth Management’s key demographic is younger clients.

The firm is confident of its target market and has strong views on getting the next generation involved in finance, be it as clients or as staff, and is very active on social media.

Co-founding partner Georgina Partridge has been working with Loughborough University to promote financial advice as a career option.

The firm also stands out for its open door policy for clients: it offers a strong service to mass-market clients compared with other IFAs that have shed this segment in favour of high-net-worth clients.

Quentin Holland

PQR Financial Planning
London

Quentin Holland, managing director of PQR Financial Planning, decided to set up his own firm after rejecting the idea of joining a national, a private bank or a small IFA who would tell him what to do.

The chartered firm was established by Holland and two colleagues, Paul Cameron Taylor and Roger Clarke, both of whom worked with him at a previous firm. The business takes its title from the first initials of their Christian names.

The firm has grown assets under advice by £90 million over the past 12 months.

Graham Prest

Prest Financial Planning
Stockport

Stockport-based Prest Financial Planning was established in 1961 by Jim Prest. Today the firm’s success has been carried on in the hands of Jim’s son, Graham Prest, who is at the helm as managing director.

Prest is a specialist adviser in green and ethical investments, and the firm is a member of the Ethical Investment Association, which he believes differentiates it from rivals.

The chartered firm with a team of 18 has grown steadily thanks to a series of acquisitions, and assets under advice currently stand at £295 million.

Andrew Whitely

Provisio
Letchworth

Letchworth-based Provisio is a pioneering firm and was one of the first in the UK to offer exchange-traded fund-based model portfolios to retail investors. It has also launched a passive-led investment consultancy service for other advisers called Assetfirst.

The passive approach is at the heart of the firm’s investment strategy, which was a decision made in 2007 after managing director Andrew Whiteley, who has been an IFA for over 20 years, became disillusioned with the charges and underperformance of active funds and fund managers.

The firm currently has £120 million in assets under advice and recurring income of 85%.

James Priday

Prydis Wealth
Exeter

Chartered firm Prydis Wealth offers a financial planning and discretionary service, and recently launched an execution-only platform called Strawberry Invest.

The Exeter-based firm also launched a legal firm under an alternative business structure and provides advice to individuals, pension funds, financial professionals, companies and charities.

Over the past year the business has grown significantly, increasing assets under advice to £125 million and turnover to £850,000 in 2014.

Darren Baker

QED Wealth Management
Weston-Super-Mare

QED Wealth Management managing director Darren Baker set up the firm in 1998. He works closely with other advisers to share investment ideas and best business practice. He is a founding member of Evidence Based Investment Solutions, an academic investment group, and of Segment 7, an adviser association based on shared business practice and a commitment to passive investment.

He recently published a financial management book for sports professionals titled Your Financial Coach. Baker’s experience of advising elite athletes inspired him to write the book, which delivers practical financial and life advice to athletes at various stages of their career or retirement.

Gordon Hay

Redbourne Wealth Management
Bromsgrove

Bromsgrove-based Redbourne Wealth Management made substantial changes to its proposition in 2011 to concentrate on high-end clients in an attempt to improve growth. The firm’s decision paid off with assets rising from £90 million in 2012 to £145 million in 2014.

Managing director Gordon Hay is not resting on his laurels and plans to go back to school to focus on furthering the business’s development. He was accepted into Goldman Sachs UK Small Business program at Aston Business School in Birmingham.

Hay spends a considerable about of time promoting financial planning to other professionals. Redbourne has previously used professional connections to secure referrals but hopes to concentrate on direct word-of-mouth referrals in future.

Scott Gallacher

Rowley Turnton
Leicester

Leicester-based Rowley Turton prides itself on delivering chartered, independent advice to its clients.

Scott Gallacher, financial planner at the firm, says: ‘While we are highly technical with two chartered financial planners in-house, what really makes the difference to our clients is our ability to interpret complex matters and explain them in a straightforward, simple manner. It’s this knack of making the complicated understandable that sets us apart.’

Gallacher is a member of the Leicester Rotary Club and has been involved in raising money for the eradication of polio.

Bill Smith

Scotia Wealth Management
Edinburgh

Bill Smith, director of Edinburghbased Scotia, founded the firm in 2011, since when growth has been rapid. Last year Smith added 100 clients, bringing assets under advice to £20 million.

The firm expects to reach £35 million by the end of 2014.

Smith says income has been slow to grow due his focus on ongoing rather than initial fees. ‘Income has not risen a great deal because I am looking at small amounts of initial fees but, with clients signed up for our ongoing service proposition, ongoing fees will grow.’

Smith provides his free time to give free financial advice to various charities and their employees.

Tom Barnett

Reeves Financial Planning
Cantebury

Reeves Financial Planning is the advice arm of accountancy firm Reeves & Co. The Canterbury-based business places an initial emphasis on tax planning to help clients accumulate wealth.

Its client base is predominantly formed of wealthy families, business owners and professionals.

‘At the heart of our business is a genuine desire to work with our clients over the longer term, helping them to achieve their own ambitions,’ says financial services director Tom Barnett.

The firm has £275 million in assets under advice, up from £250 million in 2013.

Neil Shillito

SG Wealth Management
Norwich

Norwich-based SG Wealth Management has been fee based from 2000. Since then it has developed in other ways, setting up a discretionary service and recently appointing the boss of a local brewery to head its board.

Andy Wood, chief executive of Adnams, joined the SG board in May. SG chief executive Neil Shillito says the appointment aimed to help him and his co-owners manage the firm’s growth.

‘When you’re at that junction, management becomes a different beast, but as the owner of the business it’s often difficult to have the necessary breadth of vision.’

The firm has grown assets to £209 million in 2014 and the percentage of recurring revenue to 95%.

Richard Skerritt

Skerritt Consultants
Hove

The Hove-based firm has taken home the New Model Adviser® award for the South East four times, most recently in January 2014.

Skerritts advises on more than £500 million in assets and has 88% recurring income.

It is aiming to boost the profile of its wealth management arm over the next year. Managing director Richard Skerritt says: ‘We looked at our five-year performance and analysed ourselves against the major discretionary fund managers, and the performance was fantastic, so we’re going to try to get our name out there a bit more.’

Steve Martin

Smart Financial
Altrincham

Altrincham-based Smart Financial is headed by chief executive Steve Martin, who is committed to advancing advisers’ professionalism.

Martin is chairman of the IFP’s Manchester branch and regularly speaks at events about providing value to clients. He has helped to set up two new IFP branches, in Chester and Preston.

The firm, which has £65 million in assets under advice, has launched a specialist service for its business owner clients called the Freedom From Your Business Club.

Martin says the idea behind it is to provide better retirement and life planning outcomes for the firm’s entrepreneurial clients.

Mike Foseberry

Smith & Williamson
London

Smith & Williamson financial services director Mike Fosberry has been at the firm since 1984, when its personal financial planning service was launched.

Smith & Williamson is predominantly a discretionary fund manager and tax advice service. The financial planning division has 66 staff, of which around half are registered individuals.

As a past president of the PFS and a board member for five years, Fosberry has been committed to raising the standards and ethics for the advice community. He was also a member of the working party on the RDR for the Association of Independent Financial Advisers, as the trade body was then called.

Paul Garwood, head of personal financial planning at the firm, is chairman of the Institute of Chartered Accountants for England and Wales’ tax faculty’s pensions working group and sits on the body’s financial planning committee.

Lee Smythe

Smythe & Walter Chartered Financial Planners
Faversham

Lee Smythe and Ben Walter set up Smythe & Walter Chartered Financial Planners in October 2010 with a view to starting a fresh business with a fee-based model ahead of the RDR.

They share an office in London, with their joint venture partners Kingsway Mortgages. The firm started with 80 clients and about £9 million under advice based on existing clients. Assets under advice have climbed to £40 million over the past 12 months and profits have double to £220,000.

Kevin Forbes

Strategic Solutions Financial services
Poole

This chartered, Poole-based firm is run by partners Kevin Forbes, Jeff Fawcett, Giles Wellington and Allan Cruse. Dog-lover Forbes represents the company. He has a boundless enthusiasm for developing the firm’s model and the wider planning community.

Forbes is chairman of Hampshire and Dorset PFS, and a board member at Southampton and Bournemouth CII branches. He is also a member of the Zurich National IFA panel; a member of a local financial services business panel; and a volunteer at The Pensions Advisory Service.

He argues that many advisers have abandoned ordinary people. ‘We provide help and advice to anyone who needs it,’ he says.

Darren Lloyd Thomas

Thomas and Thomas Finance
Pembrokeshire

Husband and wife team Darren and Lisa Thomas have been running the Pembrokeshire-based firm since 2006. Though challenging in the early days, the firm is now well established and enjoying chartered and IFP accredited status.

It maintains high levels of recurring income, which help the pair maintain their lifestyle based around their smallholding and involvement with a local choir.

Darren has built up a media presence and is a regular at investor training sessions. He is a frequent= supporter of IFP branch meetings, and regularly helps graduates seeking work experience and guidance in the financial planning profession.

Tim Whiting

Timothy James & Partners
London

London-based Timothy James & Partners (TJP) boasts a host of celebrities among its client bank, including John McCririck, EastEnders actor Patsy Palmer and ex-England rugby player Lawrence Dallaglio.

TJP’s new business comes solely from referrals and it has retained top-class professional connections. The firm has taken on two registered individuals in the past year, and asset under advice have climbed to £550 million.

Managing director Tim Whiting is a certified financial planner and a member of the CII.

Paul Lothian

Verus Wealth
Dundee

Director Paul Lothian originally had ambitions to be a pop star. That dream has not become reality yet but he did spend a lot of time on stage last year collecting both the New Model Adviser® of the Year for Scotland and Northern Ireland award and the PFS Chartered Financial Planner of the Year award.

Lothian sat on the PFS board between 2006 and 2011, and was president in 2008-09. More recently he has been a PFS Chartered Champion for North Scotland.

Julian Gilbert

Wealth Matters
Luton

This Luton-based firm has forged a broad assortment of links with affinity groups to support its client niches in freelancers, contractors, professionals and business owners. This has helped the firm amass £134 million in assets under advice and build turnover to a projected £1.7 million this year.

Director Julian Gilbert has set up an internal training programme for all staff members; five of the firm’s personnel have taken and passed exams in the past 12 months.

Gilbert has an array of interests outside work, including football, cricket, scuba diving, golf, music and travel.

Duncan Glassey

Wealthflow
Edinburgh

Partner Duncan Glassey has been building niches at the Edinburgh-based firm, which is chartered and IFP accredited. Glassey has Sifa membership and is working towards the Step advanced certificate in advising vulnerable clients, and advanced certificate in advising personal injury recipients.

He is developing a social networking forum for families with specialist care needs, and Wealthflow is establishing a joint venture with an Edinburgh law firm to provide asset management services to families in receipt of medical negligence and catastrophic injury awards.

Glassey has been working towards ISO22222 and BSI8577 ‘to build customer confidence’.

David Salmon

Whiting & Partners Wealth Management
Wisbech

In 1998 managing director David Salmon formed this chartered Wisbech-based business in conjunction with Whiting & Partners Chartered Accountants.

This year it is projected to increase assets under advice significantly, from £85 million to £95 million, and it is edging ever closer to a £1 million turnover.

The firm has traditionally served a large farming community with a proposition that mixes traditional values with a strong reliance on new technology and qualifications. The firm is also developing new niches, such as in auto-enrolment.

Recently Salmon has been engaged with ‘involving chartered accountants on our board to bring their experience of their profession into play with ours’.

Dennis Hall

Yellowtail Financial Planning
London

Dennis Hall, managing director at this chartered, City-based firm, was one of the first UK-based Kinder Institute-accredited registered life planners. He has had many roles in the financial planning community and is active on the IFP ethics and conference committees, as London region education officer for the PFS, and as a senior examiner for the CII.

Hall’s first book, Who will it hurt when I die? has been published. It was written to help couples prevent the financial problems often caused by bereavement.

Hall collects contemporary art, including works by artists such as Tracey Emin and Bridget Riley.

Yvonne Goodwin

Yvonne Goodwin Wealth Management
Leeds

Managing director Yvonne Goodwin and director Lloyd Goodwin both have degrees in financial services planning and management from Manchester Metropolitan University.

Leeds-based Yvonne Goodwin is a regional PFS committee member, and is a regular personal finance commentator on BBC Breakfast, where she says she enjoys receiving expert hair and make-up work.

She believes ‘no-one has a monopoly on good ideas’ and meets regularly with other top planners to discuss best practice ideas. She is an avid and opinionated blogger; sits on committees for both the PFS and IFP; and is a Prestwood Truth user mentor.

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