IFA Direct Home: Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Thomas Mannion: Great question and one you should ask every adviser, I read Economics and Economic History at Manchester University before joining an American brokerage called Edward Jones in 2008. I completed their Fast-Track programme as a Financial Adviser and Stockbroker and quickly headed the Harrogate Branch. Upon qualifying I was the youngest fully qualified financial adviser and stockbroker in the UK. I have subsequently worked alongside many individuals and businesses to maximise their financial outcomes and I only work on an Independent basis (Independent advice is the holy grail).
IFA Direct Home: Who should be seeking advice?
Thomas Mannion: Who shouldn’t is a better question. Any financial adviser worth their salt will offer a complimentary review to establish any needs an individual may have. I liken it to a mechanic – you should have someone look over things even if you think everything is still driving okay; you might just save yourself a fortune in the long run.
IFA Direct Home: Why should they seek advice over making a decision themselves?
Thomas Mannion: It is difficult even for us to keep on-top of the constant changes in taxation, rules, investments, investment markets etc etc. I don’t think it would be possible for a member of the public to understand the strange nuances, rules and loopholes that exist in the UK’s tax system, pension system and ever changing financial markets. I have fixed the poor work of many financial advisers in the past and they are supposedly professionals so I do think Joe Public would find things quite difficult.
IFA Direct Home: What financial pitfalls might people come across?
Thomas Mannion: Undersaving, underprotecting and under or over estimating the amount of risk they either are taking or should be taking and then there is tax. Tax planning is a really underperformed act by individuals and IFAs in general.
IFA Direct Home: Can you explain the process of receiving financial advice?
Thomas Mannion: Pre – I establish if someone is serious about looking after their finances. I don’t want to deal with someone who isn’t as serious about their money as I am. Following that the following is the usual process:
1. Speak to the adviser on the phone, discuss your queries.
2. The adviser will ask some probing questions back to qualify any potential needs you made have.
3. Meet with the adviser to complete a factfind.
4. The adviser will explain charges and what services they will provide at the initial meeting.
5. The adviser, with your agreement, will then go and put together a strategy to help you achieve your objectives.
6. Often the adviser will implement the strategy for you.
7. You will then have a review at least once per annum an ongoing basis to make sure that you are still on track to reach your goals and that changes in rules, tax, investments and risk haven’t changed leaving you exposed to pitfalls.
8. Most advisers want a client for life – this means nurturing a relationship.
IFA Direct Home: Do you find that a client’s initial objective changes following their first meeting with you?
1. For my younger clients yes it often does. My older clients usually have one of three needs.
IFA Direct Home: How much does advice cost?
Thomas Mannion: That is the hardest question to answer. I refer back to my mechanic analogy. Sometimes you look at a client’s situation and they require no help or guidance or just a point in the right direction or the reassurance that they are doing everything correctly. Another time everything might seem fine to a client but they have an antiquated pension policy an investment strategy that is all wrong and they are not properly protected. Either way we present the prices to a client after our initial meeting and provide the cost upfront to service their requirements.
IFA Direct Home: Isn’t it a catch-22 situation to be spending money to find out how to save money?
Thomas Mannion: Haha, yes it sounds that way but it really isn’t. If the cost of advice were to outweigh the potential benefits I would walk away and say to the prospective client that the cost of advice wouldn’t be worth the gain they would receive. Usually, however, with things retirement planning, taking retirement benefits and planning for inheritance tax the savings we make clients far exceed any fee. I will put it a different way, I have not had a client leave me yet or ever had a complaint.
IFA Direct Home: How often do you review the financial situation with your clients?
Thomas Mannion: We have two service levels. One provides annual reviews the other provides 6 monthly reviews -we aren’t too strict about this though. We will work with a client to suit their needs and our advisers will aim to be available 24/7 (obviously within reason). If a client calls on a Sunday evening because they need money to buy a second home or to help a family member that has fallen on hard times we will usually be straight on the phone to them to get things sorted for them as soon as possible. On the other end of the spectrum some individuals will only require our advice once – say they are buying an annuity – in which case they don’t need to see us after we have given them advice.
Ryan Mellor, Co-founder at IFA Direct Home
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