We have been fortunate this year to have so many!
Firstly buying, remodelling and moving out of shared offices into a larger, dedicated building.
We have expanded our staff numbers across all departments having taken on three new team members, Dawn in August, Caroline in September and Jonathan in December.
And finally one of our Chartered Financial Planners, Rebecca, has been awarded the CII’s Maddocks Prize in addition to the team celebrating a flurry of exam successes this year.
Our business is structured in terms of our corporate and private client offerings, we cover all aspects of retirement planning- pensions, DB transfers, pension consolidation and transfers, pension drawdown and annuities, pension and divorce and self-invested personal pensions (SIPPs).
We also offer investment planning advice and investment review, alongside life planning, estate planning, and protection planning.
On the corporate side we assist businesses with their corporate financial planning needs, employee benefits, auto-enrolment, health and wellbeing and business protection.
It is true you are only as good as the team around you and the team we have here makes my role as Managing Director a lot easier.
Whilst face to face financial advice is very important, the work that takes place behind the scenes is equally as vital. Our client facing and back office team has expanded steadily over the last five years and we pride ourselves on developing staff who want a career in financial services, supporting them in their professional development. This is a serious business as you are dealing with people’s aspirations and expectations, but a good sense of humour is essential.
We seem to have a lot of animal lovers in the team from horses to dogs and chickens- don’t go there that’s a story in itself! I gave up on the choice of football support a long time ago with all the North East teams represented here given that our staff hail from Middlesbrough, Durham, Redcar, Marske, Darlington, even Scotland amongst a few other towns.
This is a really difficult one to answer however I would have to say it was the re-branding of the business and making our voice known within the local community. Just after the move to our new offices we hosted a regional event for the Bank of England, which is something we could never have contemplated prior to the move.
There are numerous challenges such as the unknown factors of Brexit.
Further recruitment of high-quality candidates interested in a career in financial services continues to be a difficulty in this region. But we hope that as our reputation becomes more well known in the local community, we will attract the best employees. To assist with this, we have started to develop links with local universities to implement a graduate trainee programme.
The industry is heavily regulated, which should be the case, but this does not always benefit the client and can deter people from seeking financial advice earlier than they do. Our industry seems to be constantly receiving bad press and that makes it harder for those advisers doing things right.
Having outgrown our existing offices, where we were for 15 years, we made the decision in late 2017 to move in September 2018 when there was a break clause in our lease. Purchasing the property we have now has given us more room to deliver our quality advice and host business seminars without the need to hire external premises.
In the Summer we appointed a Business Development Manager to build our presence in the region, we hope that this will cement our position in the local business community. Financial Services are not a quick fix, it’s not like changing your car or your computer which you can see straight away. We consider this appointment as a long-term core aspect of the business.
We are looking forward to hosting a number of seminars in-house for both our private clients and members of the business community on a variety of subjects. Our lunches will be delivered by fund managers whilst the corporate breakfasts will be geared towards HR managers and business owners covering employee benefit options and employee lifestyle issues such as health and wellbeing and financial education.
Over the last couple of years, we have started to work with a number of firms overseas in countries such as New Zealand and Ireland, providing advice to those that have moved and become resident elsewhere- this area of the business will further develop.
We want to grow the business and now have the space to do so in a controlled manner. I do believe this will come naturally but I am keen to recruit the right calibre of employee who can add to the success of the company. I have never been focused on turnover.
Finally we want to work with more like-minded companies and individuals who value our services and expertise and who want a long-term, collaborative relationship.
I know that the business is not as reliant on me as it was say five years ago and I would like to believe that this will continue over the next five years.
Do we have any aspirations on size and numbers? No, we don’t, but we do have over 30 years in business, so we must have done a number of things right as we have worked with some of our clients over that same time period.
I would hope that we can push the brand and our offering to more local businesses as it’s often depressing to find that companies go outside the North East for expertise when it is available here on their doorstep.