Who are we?
We're expert in what we do, we like to chat with people and we're value for money.
We like to describe ourselves as fiercely independent, analytical and very client-centric. We focus on doing two things very well:
- Creating income-based investment solutions
- Ensuring investors have accurate expectations
We're not generalists, we're specialists, we don't try to be all things to all people. If we can't help solve your particular issue, we'll tell you, and in most cases we'll be able to refer you to another chartered firm. We're somewhat long in the tooth, which means we've seen interest rates at 15%, we've paid mortgages at 13.5%, lived through power cuts (try running a PlayStation on candle power!) and have seen the effect of widespread strikes.
More importantly, we have seen the investment markets collapse 22% in two days (1987), a year long fall of almost 40% (2008), down 34% in 1987 - and then worse in the USA where the S&P500 fell 57% in 2007-08, 49% in the dotcom crash of 2000 and 48% in the 1973 oil crash. It's important for us to have seen this because we grey-hairs know that markets always recover - that's why we use the term 'cycle'. We know the traders will push markets down, we also know markets will just bounce back up again. 'Bad news sells papers' so folk are much more exposed to news of market falls, and suffer strong emotional reactions to those items; we do the research showing where the balance lies in the market see-saw, to help investors sleep at night.
We believe in being value for money, and track our time and costs to ensure our fees are in line with the work that we do. We take a lot of time working with clients and explaining the planning and investment steps - understanding is important to us, both us understanding an investor's wishes, and the client understanding how investments are expected to perform.
How we charge for the work we do: the nitty gritty of value for money
If you've come to us via a web search you'll have noticed that even on the largest adviser firms' sites they hedge away from outlining the costs - this is how we work, we are upfront and plain talking, as we think that helps avoid misunderstandings. We also think that if an adviser is not being openly transparent about charges, there may well be something you're not being told.
If you ask us to do work for you, whether it be planning, advising, reporting, investing, researching or administration, there is a cost to our business; we only have one source of income to meet those costs, the fees paid to us by our clients. In a nutshell, we charge:
- A fee for planning and research work based on the time involved
- A 1% annual fee of money you ask us to look after for you
Depending on the amount of any sum to be invested or 'taken over' by us, we may also charge an implementation fee of 1%.
"Our model investor happens to be my mother - we use her needs for our investment income risk baseline."
We have personal relationships with all of our clients, whereas larger firms may just see them as account holders in a fund. We like to work with fund managers who have a personal commitment to the money they manage (like the one whose mother in law's care home fees are invested via his fund - there's focus for you).
The company is led by Doug, a Scotsman born in Yorkshire, who formed the original business in 1994, having spent the previous five years being taught, trained and inspired at two different insurers, following his degree at Strathclyde University and four years working in the deserts of the Middle East. In the first year of the firm, via a submitted case study Doug was voted the UK-wide winner of IFA of the Year, sponsored by both the Independent and Mirror Group newspapers.
Roll forward the years and we've also picked up Best Small Advisory Firm (2011), Best Protection Adviser (2009) and Best Corporate Adviser (2011), and we've done our fair share of filling in the gaps at the BBC (tv and radio), Sky News, ShareRadio and all the national and trade papers. Doug is a Chartered Fellow of the Personal Finance Society, a Chartered member of the Chartered Institute for Securities and Investment, holder of the IMC certificate and Certified Financial Planner.
A fellow director, Jackie's title is 'Standards Controller', and her role is to ensure that the business processes are kept up to scratch, that we keep well ahead of regulatory requirements and that we also hit our goal of being two steps ahead of our clients' expectations. Jackie also runs our client surveys and handles our FCA returns.
Jim is a director of the company, a qualified fund manager, graduate of the University of Sunderland, holder of the IMC certificate from the CFA society, and lead investment analyst within the firm. A northerner to most people but not Doug, Jim has many years experience in the industry covering every area from operations to underwriting. Jim specialises in income analysis and research on absolute return funds, and producing targeted income portfolios for our clients, using SIPPs, ISAs, GIAs and bonds.
Ed joined us with extensive back office experience from central London advisory and stockbroker firms Killik and BDO, and was half way through an Open University degree in Maths and Statistics. Now graduated, Ed is in the middle of his post graduate MSc in Data Science at City University. Ed was taken on as our data controller and quickly assumed the additional role of client manager, running the daily operations of various key company clients. Ed's data skills are a particular benefit to parts of our investment research.
Adrian graduated from Winchester University in History & Archeology, and looks after our corporate business, as well as supporting on client management cases. Adrian is very experienced having worked in the sector since 1997, joining us from Towry. Adrian is the primary point of contact for all the group schemes we run, and is expert in placing group risk schemes for our corporate clients. With his corporate role, Adrian also looks after the installation and administration of auto enrolment pension schemes.