Why did you become a Financial Adviser?
I used to see people walking into a bank or a building society to get advice and what they were really getting was a sales pitch. Banks and building societies have to sell products to make money, just advising people is a waste of their time. To me that was and still is a shameful practice. I think people deserve better than that. I actually respect people and want them to get the very best financial advice.
What makes you different?
I think I am lucky in that I have a combination of factors that make me who I am. I have been brought up to respect money, to understand the value of money and the importance it plays in people’s lives not only now but in the future when they least expect it. I also have a more modern approach where the ‘live for today’ attitude has its influence. Because of that I encourage people to enjoy their earnings and save for the future in a balanced way.
I have also worked for some of the very best companies in the profession. I have worked with people who believe in doing it right, doing it well and to the very highest standard this country, or anywhere else in the world for that matter, can offer. They taught me early on that if you want to be good at what you do then you have to learn from the very best in the world and then put your personality into it. That’s what I try to do every day.
I am also younger than most financial advisers. That combined with the fact that I get very strong ethical principles from my family means I advise in a different way to most. Take commissions for example. I started in the industry by working for companies and at a time when commissions were becoming a bit ‘old school’ so I have never really been around that culture of selling. I truly do not understand the concept. I think my job is to help people to protect and grow their wealth. That is pretty much a given when someone approaches a financial adviser. So taking commissions, sometimes in a very backhanded way, is surely the complete opposite of that?
I believe in charging a fair and reasonable fee for a high quality service. Commissions are counter intuitive to what I believe my job is.
But are commission not going to be banned from 1 January 2013?
Not really. The only change is that financial advisers will have to agree with their client what the amount is they will charge for the advice. Advisers can still take it in the form of a commission from the product, which can be a percentage of the amount invested for example. So I think commissions will still be taken, it is just a higher standard of disclosure that is being imposed on those that have not already been doing it.
You set up and now run your own firm, why is that?
Again it is probably a combination of factors that makes me who I am but I think it was inevitable. Throughout my working life I have worked for different employers, people I referred to earlier as inspiring and people that settled for nothing less than the best. However I still found their ways of doing things different to the way I would do them if I had the chance.
I wanted to set up a company that reflected my values and my principles. I am a wealth management specialist, it is what I enjoy doing and it is a service I enjoy delivering to people.
What are your values when advising then?
I like to keep things simple. I do not think there is anyone out there that says to clients “why don’t we keep your situation and my advice process really simple, that way I can charge you less”.
It probably comes back to why I am different to most financial advisers. My default thought is always how I can save people money. I guess most professionals are obsessed with how they can make more money.
Does that mean you are happy to earn less?
I think more people will be attracted to my way of doing things, particularly come January 2013 when they find out what their adviser has been charging all these years. Eventually that will bring its own success and monetary rewards. If I can make less money from each client but have more clients and people that I am helping then I have achieved what I wanted to.