A Week in the Life… Team Newbridge
Another busy week for me; meetings with clients, building relationships with professional connections, discussing cases with my team and meeting my business coach.
Gareth Elliott, Managing Director / Principal Adviser
Monday morning is a chance to catch up on emails (some from the weekend which I try not to look at). I also meet with my PA, Tammy, to discuss my diary for the week and Tracey the Practice Manager to discuss any upcoming or ongoing cases. Of course, I have a chat with the team and find out how their weekends were (any hangovers etc). My meeting with Tony, my business coach, starts at 12noon. We discuss business budgets, marketing opportunities and team issues. We meet to discuss these issues every week. I enjoy these meetings as being a business owner, you need someone to bounce ideas off, that isn’t necessarily in your team.
Following my meeting with Tony, which finishes around 3pm, I checked over the two client files which were prepared for my meetings.
I had two review meetings with clients, who I had transferred pensions for six months ago. Any client who transfers from a final salary pension scheme will receive six monthly reviews, at least for a year or two. This helps to smooth the transition from a guaranteed pension scheme to an invested pension, giving the client some peace of mind.
Both clients were happy with the progress so far and both values had increased.
My day finished around 7.30pm, when I arrived home to be greeted by four dogs.
Final check of emails and my day is done.
Once I get into the office, I start everyday by checking emails and saying good morning to the team.
On Tuesday I had an appointment with an estate agent who is looking to build a relationship with a financial planning firm, mainly to provide mortgage services. We also had a representative in from Old Mutual, talking to us about their plans for the future including changes to their platform.
In the evening I had another review meeting with a client, wanting to know if he could afford to semi retire. He works long hours in a manual job, so would like to go to self employed part time work. He wasn’t sure that he could afford to. Through our cashflow planning, we were able to show him that he could retire now and go part time.
First thing, I had to discuss an on-going case with Suzanne, one of the paraplanners. I had a client meeting 11am, so I reviewed the paperwork beforehand. This client was referred to me by another client who was in the same final salary pension scheme. He was interested in transferring his scheme out and this was the 3rd appointment with him to go over our recommendation.
Transferring out of a final salary scheme is not to be taken lightly and we spend more time with clients in these cases than any other. We want to make sure that the client fully understands what guarantees they are giving up, and also what it means to have such an amount of money invested. Most clients who transfer out of such schemes have little or no experience investing, so we make every effort to make sure they understand the risks.
In this case we were happy to recommend a transfer and the client was very happy with the work we had done for him.
After that I had a lunch meeting with a local solicitor in Belfast. I am always keen to talk to other professionals in the area to improve the overall service to consumers. Accountants, solicitors and financial advisers have key roles to play in delivering service to consumers and there are links between us when dealing with clients. For example, a business owner looking to reduce tax liability can make a payment into a pension. Company directors may need cross option agreement and shareholder protection to protect the shares of the business, making sure those shares on the death of a director stay within the company.
People who inherit money may need financial advice, or pension advice may be needed in divorce. You may need to change your life cover from joint life to single life after divorce.
There are many cases where solicitors, accountants and financial advisers can work together for the benefit of consumers. The risk is when they don’t work together.
I managed to finish my day at a reasonable time and go home to spend some time with the dogs and my other half Lynda.
Very busy day! My business networking group meets every Thursday morning, alternating between Belfast and Ballymena. This week was Ballymena and we started the meeting at 7.30am at the Adair Arms, finishing at 8.45am. This was followed by two client meetings in Ballymena. First was a retired gentleman, 54 years old, having just received a transfer value from his former work pension scheme. My approach with these cases is just to listen to the client, no pen or paper required. I want to understand the client’s needs and objectives. Really get to know them. Its about them not me! We spent an hour and a half talking about why he wanted to move this pension to improve the flexibility of drawing benefits and because he is still young; the heavy penalty on his current scheme for drawing money out early. As always with first appointments we discussed my fees and clarified what they would be in pounds. We have been moving away from percentages on our initial fees, as fixed fees are more transparent and easier for clients to understand.
We discussed the advantages and disadvantages of his scheme and also private schemes in some length. I told him to have a think and we would call him next week to set up another meeting.
Not expecting that appointment to last quite that long, I was a little late for my next; a review meeting. In this case the client had a few questions on tax and taking a little bit more risk with some of his portfolio. We discussed moving some of their investment account into their ISA, to make use of their allowance for the year.
His neighbour wanted to discuss investments with me also, so I spent some time with them talking about options. They were in the process of selling a second property they own and wanted to know what to do with the proceeds.
After that I had to rush back to Belfast for a meeting with an accountant. We met in Established Coffee, in the cobbled streets of Cathedral Quarter.
I didn’t have time for lunch so had a brownie and cappuccino …off the diet today then!
After that meeting, which went very well, I had another two appointments in the office. Again, more final salary transfers. These were a bit more unusual as these clients had been offered a transfer value from a scheme which is currently in the Pension Protection Fund. Normally transfer values are guaranteed for three months which gives plenty of time to consider options and sort out the paperwork. However, in these cases they were only given one month. Not really fair in my opinion, as decisions with this amount of money (roughly £300,000) should not be taken lightly!
In these cases, the transfer values were quite high in relation to what was being offered as a pension income from the scheme, so I was happy to recommend transfers in both cases.
We would not by any means transfer all schemes we come across. There has to be a very good reason to transfer out and our starting position is always that it probably isn’t a good idea. It is up to the client to state why they want to transfer and it is not always a good enough reason. Or simply, the transfer value is not high enough in relation to the pension income from the current scheme.
Two client meetings before lunch. First was someone who wanted to start paying into a pension. This client has a good job and shares in the company. He wants £4000 per month income in retirement, so needs a pot of close to £1 million by retirement. He needs to save £2684 per month. Unfortunately, this client is a late starter to pension, so needs to save a lot. More than most can afford. He was happy to start at £1000 per month. I also gave him projections to help him plan for university fees for his two daughters.
After that I had a university lecturer in to discuss his private pension. He has a current final salary scheme which will be his main source of income in retirement. He wants to draw his tax-free cash out to do some home improvements. We discussed his options and I gathered some information from him. We will need to assess this case, send him a risk profile questionnaire, which we do via email. Once we have all the information we need, we can then make our recommendation and organise a second appointment.
After that, I checked my emails, dealt with any which needed action, had lunch and discussed weekend plans with the team.
Bring on the weekend!