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The adviser Top 100: 11 stars from Northern England

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by Tim Cooper, Natalie Fast on Nov 21, 2012 at 07:00

In the third part in our UK Top 100 adviser series the New Model Adviser team unearthed some real gems across Lancashire, Yorkshire, Northumberland, Durham and Cumbria

Joel Adams


Joel Adams has worked in financial services since 1998 and set up LIFT-Financial in 2007 with business partner Mike Holden. Altrincham-based Adams is a chartered financial planner and runs a graduate training scheme at LIFT. He argues IFAs should treat their business as though it were a client: set goals and create a plan to stick to them.

Tim Brear and Andrew Brook-Dobson

Brook-Dobson Brear

Former soldier Tim Brear (pictured left) still carries a military air – focusing on discipline and deliverables. Harrogate-based Brear is a certified planner and adopts the George Kinder methodology of Evoke life planning. ‘Evoke is crucial to our business, there is a power to financial planning that is not only about the destination, but the journey,’ he says.

An avid adventurer and outdoor enthusiast, Andrew Brook-Dobson applies the same enthusiasm to fell running as he does to running Harrogate-based Brook-Dobson Brear. To interview prospective staff, Brook-Dobson and co-director, Tim Brear, will often take the candidate on a walk. ‘We like to be different,’ he explains. The firm was one of the first 25 to be awarded the accredited status by the IFP and Brook-Dobson is chartered and certified.

Brigid Benson

GAEIA Partnership

Manchester-based Brigid Benson has pioneered the use of ethical funds in clients’ portfolios since 1989 and has been a human rights campaigner for more than 20 years. She says her greatest achievement has been ‘to grow the socially responsible investment market and move millions away from arms and companies that are not focused on social and environmental improvement.’

Nick Crabbe

Manse Capital

‘We’re a Steady Eddy sort of firm,’ says Nick Crabbe of Manse Capital, formerly known as Baxter Fensham. ‘We have clarity and we’re not fluffy.’ This straightforward approach has helped him create a successful and solid financial advisory and wealth management firm. He is an influential member in the financial advice community, working closely with other members of the IFP and PFS to help advisers hone their business propositions and move to the new model. Leeds-based Crabbe was a founding member of the Advanced Financial Planning Alliance. ‘We hope to lead by example, but also to learn from our peers,’ he says.

Yvonne Goodwin

Yvonne Goodwin Wealth Management

Yvonne Goodwin has gone back to university to take a degree in financial services, planning and management, which she began in January 2011. ‘One of our junior members of staff was taking the degree and I thought it looked interesting,’ says Goodwin. ‘It’s fascinating; it is teaching us to be critical.’ Leeds-based Goodwin excels at spreading the word of financial services and has regularly provided market commentary on the BBC.

Joss Harwood

Eldon Financial Planning

Joss Harwood founded Eldon Financial Planning in 2002 with co-directors Tony Conner and Owen Temple with ‘a passion for being highly qualified’. ‘We wanted to have the knowledge before it became compulsory,’ says Bishop Auckland-based Harwood. To that end, she was in the first wave of advisers to become chartered and gain CII fellowship. Likewise, Eldon FP was one of the first firms to become chartered and IFP accredited. ‘We won’t be compromised; we stand by honesty and integrity,’ says Harwood. Eldon is a chartered champion for the PFS and was the Chartered Financial Planner of the Year for 2011.

David Hughes

Ellis Bates

David Hughes joined Ellis Bates in 1998 and was appointed group chief executive in 1999. Newcastle upon Tyne-based Hughes was instrumental in launching the firm’s specialist investment process and technologies, called Utopia. This system aims to service investment portfolios from the centre of the firm to ensure consistency between clients. Hughes is an avid shooter and enjoys a spot of mountain walking.

Tim Johnson

Pearson Jones

Tim Johnson has more than 20 years of experience in financial services and has spent many of those at the helm of Pearson Jones, one of the largest IFAs in the North East. Skipton-based Johnson helped to found the Pearson Jones Academy, which aims to train budding administrators and paraplanners who aspire to be consultants but need qualifications. The firm is also part of the Yorkshire IFA Forum, which also aims to develop the younger generation of financial services.

Colin Lawson

Equilibrium Asset Management

Colin Lawson is at the helm of a fast-growing new model business, Equilibrium Asset Management, which began life in his bedroom in 1995. Lawson and investment manager, Mike Deverell, have taken Wilmslow-based Equilibrium to discretionary status and have carved out a niche in the affluent Cheshire area. Lawson regularly runs seminars for clients to educate them on financial subjects and to spread awareness of Equilibrium.

Steve Martin

Smart Financial Planning

Steve Martin seems to have split his life between training for Ironman competitions and developing his business. Some time must also be dedicated to his young family, but considering he has stolen his wife’s iPad for client meetings, Smart Financial Planning might be winning. Altrincham-based Martin was awarded the IFP’s title of an accredited firm in 2011 and believes that this reflects his ‘healthy, thriving business.’ He has launched a graduate scheme for the firm and takes on recruits from local universities. Post-RDR, Martin is focused on creating a national financial planning brand.

Louise Oliver

Taylor Oliver

Louise Oliver is a master of public relations and has built up a strong media presence on financial advice matters. She regularly provides expert commentary for the BBC, featuring on shows such as Moneybox and Panorama, and is often featured in the national and trade press. Chesterfield-based Oliver is the chairperson of the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce Inspiring Women Group and vice-president of the British Association of Women Entrepreneurs.

For more top advisers across the country click here.

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