Survey Answers By The Score!
Since our last News & Views, I have issued our client survey and I wanted to say a sincere thank you to everyone who has responded already. The results are already looking quite interesting, and I wanted to let you know that I will leave the survey open until after the Easter Weekend and this will enable me to include summary details of the results in the next News & Views.
I did want to address a couple of questions that have been raised already, one of which was to ask if our intention is to move toward online and technology solutions only and I can confirm this is not the case. We recognise both the importance of face-to-face meetings and the value that these bring to all parties and so, once lockdown is behind us, my plan is to resume face to face meetings where appropriate and I sincerely look forward to being able to do this.
However, there are some aspects of communication that for some, can be better dealt with either virtually or via online services and in those circumstances, we want to make sure that we are employing the most favoured solutions. The last thing we wish is to create any difficulty or frustrations that could undermine our relationship.
Business Continuity/Succession Plans
The other question relates to our continuity or succession planning and as it was tactfully phrased “none of us are getting any younger”. Firstly, let me say that we thoroughly enjoy the work we do and the relationships that we have with our clients. As with all services, there are aspects that we have to “put up with” which are less enjoyable, keeping abreast of the increased reporting the Regulators require for example, but overall, we are very happy. However, the question of continuity is one that I have been mindful of for some while, and one which cannot be ignored.
With this in mind, we do have plans in mind, all of which are designed to ensure continuity of service for clients, maintaining the same professional standards and having a solution in place, just in case “the big man upstairs calls my number” or at some point we wish to consider retiring – but that is not on the radar at the moment.
I am very pleased to confirm that we are taking the first steps this week and can announce that with effect from 1st April 2021, we have another Financial Advisory firm, coming under our regulatory umbrella. Martyn Bates and Lynne Campbell formed their company, Bates Campbell Ltd, just over 10 years ago and prior to that time, they worked for me in my old business, so we have known them for quite a number of years. We have stayed in regular contact throughout, cross referring business where appropriate and now they have become an Appointed Representative of RAFP.
This means we will be taking responsibility for their regulated activities going forwards and this is the first step towards merging our two businesses into one new group structure, which we hope will take place during the next year. We cannot be sure of the timescale because this needs regulatory approval and as such, the turnaround time is currently about 6 months, once we have fired the starting pistol! So, it will take some time yet, but we will keep you appraised as we progress.
Martyn and Lynne have already been appointed as Registered Advisers for RAFP and if you care to look, you will find them on the FCA Register already.
With a huge amount of consolidation going on in the UK financial advisory sector, this has created an opportunity for us to bring our businesses together and the plan is to grow the combined group further. We have a recruitment process underway to add 2 more Advisers this year and so there will be more people to tell you about in due course.
By creating this larger business platform, we are addressing the continuity concerns and with Martyn and Lynne, who subscribe to the same client relationship standards as ourselves, our principles and client service standards are assured for the longer term.
Post Brexit Position
It has been a while since I mentioned the B word, but it is still with us in many ways. In addition to our clients who are located in the UK, around 30% are ex-pat UK nationals who are living overseas, many of whom reside in EU countries. Up until the end of 2020, we had a regulatory cross border passport which extended our permissions to be able to advise clients throughout the EU. That is no longer possible and furthermore, the EU/UK Memorandum of Understanding that has been worked on is not going to result in a practical solution going forward. Whilst it is true to say we are able to provide advice to EU resident clients when they visit the UK, the timing is not always going to be right, and I am sure catching up with family and friends will be the main priority on those visits.
I looked into a number of possibilities and am pleased to say we now have a solution in place. You may have noticed the FEIFA logo on our emails and other stationery and this is a trade association - The Federation of European Independent Financial Advisers, of which we are a member. One of our fellow members, Beacon Global Wealth Management, are based in Europe and I have jumped through the regulatory hoops to the degree that I am now an Appointed Representative of Beacon, with full permissions to advise throughout all EU countries once again. For the individual clients who are affected, I will be writing separately with more details shortly, but I would just stress here, this will not result in any changes to the level of services or costs involved. We in turn, will carry some additional regulatory costs, but otherwise it will be business as usual.
As you will be aware, I do not usually write “all about us” but thought this news was appropriate to share with everyone. Please do come back to me if you have any questions or need clarification and next time, apart from the survey results summary, I will revert to some topical issues to include.
We hope you have an enjoyable Easter holiday and let’s hope we see some sunshine too.
As always, take care and we will keep in touch.
Richard, Chris and Lesley