IFA Perspectives: Andrew Jackson at Mosaac Ltd

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andrew-jacson

IFA Direct Home: Can you tell us a bit about your background?

Andrew Jackson: I have been an Independent Financial adviser for over 11 years and previously worked within the financial sector as a financial adviser/sales manager and district manager for the cooperative insurance

IFA Direct Home: Who should be seeking advice?

Andrew Jackson: With changes to state pension and also the introduction of workplace pensions, it is important that all clients who are planning for retirement or imminent retirement look to review their position to ensure retirement objectives are on track and are invested to suit their attitude to investment risk and capacity to investment loss

IFA Direct Home: Why should they seek advice over making a decision themselves?

Andrew Jackson: It’s important that clients seek advice to ensure that any decisions made are based on the full market place and is specific to the Clients Objectives/Need and Risk Analysis

IFA Direct Home: What financial pitfalls might people come across?

Andrew Jackson: The pitfalls clients could come across is investing in a fund which is outside their risk tolerance and is based on performance rather than suitability also investing in high cost SIPPs and also investing through Schemes that could potentially have severe tax implications( pension Liberation)

IFA Direct Home: Can you explain the process of receiving financial advice?

Andrew Jackson:

Initial Meeting

Obtain information

Client Specific Needs and Objectives in all areas (looking at Pensions, Savings, Protection and taxation)

Completion of Client Fact Find

Completion of Risk profile

Agreement between adviser and client regarding priorities and what is important to the client at this time

Completion of Authority form, this will allow the adviser to obtain information on the current product to see if Features/Fund Choice/Cost suit the client’s objectives.

Agree any fees moving forward

2nd Meeting

  • Check if the client’s objectives have changed
  • Present Information on current contracts and compare against clients objectives and risk and tax
  • Based on the client’s Objectives and Needs and taxation, present any alternative solution which is better suited to needs and objectives and taxation

This could be done 2nd/3rd meeting

  • Make Recommendation
  • Agree Solution and any fees to be paid
  • Agree what service the client would like to receive moving forward
  • Send letter of recommendation

IFA Direct Home: Do you find that a client’s initial objective changes following their first meeting with you?

Andrew Jackson: Depending on the client’s understanding of financial planning, objectives often change during meetings as the adviser identifies areas which could impact on the client’s needs and wider planning areas such as family protection and taxation planning etc

IFA Direct Home: How much does advice cost?

Andrew Jackson:  Advice cost depends on values and workload involved, this is agreed between adviser and client

IFA Direct Home: Isn’t it a catch-22 situation to be spending money to find out how to save money?

Andrew Jackson: The difference in the cost of products varies significantly and depending on the client’s own needs, the cost of reducing expensive products fees could significantly increase values over time. This together with ensuring that risk is appropriate. Investment loss could cause significant financial implication over the long term and ensuring fund suitability/risk is just as important.

IFA Direct Home: How often do you review the financial situation with your clients?

Andrew Jackson: Service is agreed with the client and this depends upon what the client wants/ complexity and is seen as beneficial for long term partnership between adviser and client and is proactive rather than reactive

Four levels of service

Responsive – no Service

Proactive Plus – 1 appointment a year

Proactive – Appointment every 2 years

Bespoke – Appointments every 6 months or more subject to needs

Costs are different for each service agreement and the levels of service can be altered to suit changes in client’s needs etc

IFA Perspectives: Tony Adams at Touchstone Financial

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touchstone financial

IFA Direct Home: Can you tell us a bit about your background?

Tony Adams: After working for the inland revenue ( as it was then) and H.M. Customs and Excise for 14 years I became gamekeeper turned poacher, and joined the Financial Services Industry, with Barclays, before going on to work for Lighthouse and the Legal Brokerage. I set up Touchstone in 2012.

IFA Direct Home: Who should be seeking advice?

Tony Adams: Anyone who wants to ensure that their current arrangements are performing as they should or who wants to make sure they are providing adequately for their future, be it retirement or for other goals in life.

IFA Direct Home: Why should they seek advice over making a decision themselves?

Tony Adams: That depends on how much of an interest they are taking already. Some people come to us because they want to know more about what they have, others already have a good knowledge of what they have but want to know that someone is focussed on reviewing it regularly and ensuring it is on track. The analogy I would use is that of a gardener. I know how to tend my garden, but for every hour I spend in my garden, I know I could be doing something I really want to do, rather than have to do, so I pay a gardener so I can spend more time doing what I want to do.

IFA Direct Home: What financial pitfalls might people come across?

Tony Adams: Many and varied, but typically not being in funds that match their attitude to risk, missing out on tax breaks they are entitled to, being in poor performing funds, or contracts that are more expensive than they need to be.

IFA Direct Home: Can you explain the process of receiving financial advice?

Tony Adams: Basically its about discussing your current circumstances, objectives and aspirations with an adviser, reviewing your options with him or her and then making the necessary decisions. After that, the most important bit, is to regularly review progress with the adviser to ensure you are on track.

IFA Direct Home: Do you find that a client’s initial objective changes following their first meeting with you?

Tony Adams: Sometimes, but generally our role is to help clients achieve their objectives.

IFA Direct Home: How much does advice cost?

Tony Adams: There are numerous different ways of paying for your advice, but our first meeting is always free. Thereafter we give a clear indication of any fees that might be due before proceeding.

IFA Direct Home: Isn’t it a catch-22 situation to be spending money to find out how to save money?

Tony Adams: We normally find we can quickly get clients into a position where they have saved more than they have spent on fees – by way of savings on policy charges or improved returns, or both.

IFA Direct Home: How often do you review the financial situation with your clients?

Tony Adams: It depends on the clients wishes, but generally at least annually.

IFA Perspectives: Paul Monk at True Potential

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IFA Direct Home:
 Can you tell us a bit about your background?

Paul Monk: I have been an independent financial adviser since 1991, advising on investments, pensions, protection and mortgages.

IFA Direct Home: Who should be seeking advice?

Paul Monk: Members of the public who are confused about finance and wish to simplify the complicated jargon.

IFA Direct Home: Why should they seek advice over making a decision themselves?

Paul Monk: Websites tend to have a bias towards certain products without making clear all the risks.  Suitability should always be a priority.

IFA Direct Home: What financial pitfalls might people come across?

Paul Monk: Tax implications of choosing the wrong product, the disadvantages of not writing products in trust, the suitability of products in the modern market.

IFA Direct Home: Can you explain the process of receiving financial advice?

Paul Monk: We conduct a four stage process which starts with understanding your situation, then analysing and designing a financial plan which is specific to you, before presenting this financial plan to you, and finally providing you with ongoing service and information.

IFA Direct Home: Do you find that a client’s initial objective changes following their first meeting with you?

Paul Monk: Once a client has all the information to hand, they are able to make a more informed choice.

IFA Direct Home: How much does advice cost?

Paul Monk: Initial consultation is free of charge and after this, it is an amount agreed between the client and adviser.

IFA Direct Home: Isn’t it a catch-22 situation to be spending money to find out how to save money?

Paul Monk: With a free initial consultation, this can be avoided.

IFA Direct Home: How often do you review the financial situation with your clients?

Paul Monk: Annually, although this can be amended depending on the client’s personal choice.

IFA Perspectives: Tim Sands at Money Tree Wealth Management

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tim sands

IFA Direct Home: Can you tell us a bit about your background?

Tim Sands: I have over 20 years experience in the financial services industry which included a senior management position for a successful fund and investment management company, which designed new products for institutional investors globally, including five funds being listed on the London Stock Exchange. I am therefore somewhat unique in the industry due to having both financial advisory and investment management experience. I am a member of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI) which is the largest and most widely respected professional body for the securities and investment industry in the UK, and in a growing number of financial centres globally. I am currently studying towards being a Chartered Wealth Manager, which is a Masters equivalent financial advisory qualification.

IFA Direct Home: Who should be seeking advice?

Tim Sands: Every adult in the UK should be seeking financial advice and should have a financial review annually to ensure their assets are protected; that they can support their family and lifestyle in the face of a disruptive life; and that they are on-track for a comfortable retirement. With regards retirement, it is very unfortunate that many members of the public face living ‘on the bread line’ in their later years due to a lack of financial planning, particularly now with fewer people becoming home-owners and not having this asset to fall back-on.

IFA Direct Home: Why should they seek advice over making a decision themselves?

Tim Sands: Even basic products such as life insurance require financial advice e.g. if life insurance isn’t written into trust it will pay-out into the person’s estate, getting caught up in months and years of probate, and potentially also facing inheritance tax. This can easily be avoided by a financial adviser writing the policy into trust with any payment being paid from the insurance policy directly to beneficiaries. More detailed financial planning such as pensions, investments and estate planning can become very complex especially when taking into account the potential tax implications. Similar to solicitors and accountants, financial advisers are trained professionals in their field.

IFA Direct Home: What financial pitfalls might people come across?

Tim Sands: Some common pitfalls include the aforementioned lack of trust planning i.e. paying too much tax; being invested in high risk funds or investments through their pension when the client is actually risk adverse; and not having their mortgage on a discounted rate and therefore over-paying each month which can add-up to very substantial sums overtime. However, another key pitfall is that clients are being subject to scammers and not checking that they are dealing with a regulated financial adviser; clients should always check an adviser’s credentials on the FCA register (my number is TPS01034). Using a regulated adviser provides clients with significant protection including access to the financial services compensation scheme (FSCS).

IFA Direct Home: Can you explain the process of receiving financial advice?

Tim Sands: When you meet or speak with an adviser such as myself for the first time this is to complete a fact-find i.e. for the adviser to understand the client’s individual circumstances, their concerns, their goals and ambitions, etc enabling the adviser to prepare a suitable recommendation. The first meeting is also an opportunity for the client to understand the services being offered, any fees and commissions and also to get to know their adviser who may work with them and their family for decades to come. From here the client can then decide if / how they wish to proceed.

IFA Direct Home: Do you find that a client’s initial objective changes following their first meeting with you?

Tim Sands: A client’s objectives often don’t change dramatically at the first meeting, but there is often a significant realisation by the client during the meeting e.g. the improvements that can be made to their monthly outgoings or how with careful planning they can actually have a very comfortable retirement. Clients realise that financial planning can actually dramatically change their lives and that of their family, the key is to take the first step and have a no obligation review.

IFA Direct Home: How much does advice cost?

Tim Sands: For insurance products such as life insurance, critical illness, etc the insurance company pays a commission, whilst for investments and pensions this would be a charge payable from the client’s investment for example. The level of such charges depends upon the complexity and time involved in the financial planning process, however important to note is that the fee is ALWAYS agreed in advance with the client, there are no nasty surprises!

IFA Direct Home: Isn’t it a catch-22 situation to be spending money to find out how to save money?

Tim Sands: I do not charge for a client to meet and understand the financial planning process and how their assets can be protected and or grown to meet their goals and objectives. The cost of any plan agreed with the client will also be far outweighed by the benefits, and with investments and pensions my fees are directly linked to the success of their portfolio – my interests are aligned with those of the client.

IFA Direct Home: How often do you review the financial situation with your clients?

Tim Sands: Every six months with a full review annually, however I can be contacted 7 days a week by phone or email.

IFA Persepective: Thomas Mannion at Wealth Aspirations

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Thomas Mannion

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

If you are an Independent Financial Advisor or Restricted Advisor and would be interested in working with us,
Click here to find out more.

IFA Perspectives: Graham Thompson at Huntington Ross

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graham thompson

IFA Direct Home: Can you tell us a bit about your background?

Graham Thompson: Sure, I first entered the world of Financial Services in 1997.  After leaving university I started working for a large insurance company, alongside the team of financial advisers working for the firm.  This gave me a real feel for the role and inspired me further to go on and obtain the qualifications I needed to become a financial adviser myself.

I gained my first regulated advice role at the start of 2001 and have been working as a financial adviser since.  I have worked for several companies over that time (both large and small) and now work on a self employed basis as a completely impartial, Independent Financial Adviser.  After several years of working within the restrictions of various companies, I was regularly frustrated by not always being able to select the absolute best solution for me clients.  Those frustrations are now gone as I now able to work 100% in the interests of my clients, as opposed to a company I work for.

IFA Direct Home: Who should be seeking advice?

Graham Thompson: A good question, but for me this is quite simple.  Anyone who is faced with an important financial decision (whether that is making the right plans for retirement, deciding where to invest money for income or growth or understanding how best to protect their loved ones if the worst should happen) and is unsure of how to make that decision, needs to take financial advice.

IFA Direct Home: Why should they seek advice over making a decision themselves?

Graham Thompson: I have seen the consequences of people making the wrong decisions and it can be very costly and have a significant impact on their futures.  If advice is taken, then you have the backing of that advice and cause for recompense if the advice turns out to be unsuitable.  If you do not take advice and it all goes wrong, then you do not have the backing of that advice and must live by your decisions.

IFA Direct Home: What financial pitfalls might people come across?

There are almost too many to mention here.  A few would be, not understanding your tolerance to risk and investing within assets that subject your funds to an unsuitable level of risk.  You could be paying more in the way of charges than you should, or you may be investing within assets that are simply performing badly.  Another would be failing to plan correctly for an event (be it a wedding, house or car purchase or a longer term event such as retirement) and then struggling to cope with the demands of the event.  Finally, failing to protect liabilities and loved ones can have a disastrous impact if an accident, sickness or a death removes a significant income from the household.

IFA Direct Home: Can you explain the process of receiving financial advice?

Graham Thompson: Before any adviser can provide advice, it is vital for them to fully understand the circumstances of their clients.  We always offer a free introductory meeting, where the adviser can discuss the client’s requirements and situation and where the client and adviser can decide if they will be comfortable working together.  The adviser will explain how they work, how they get paid and the services they offer.

From then on the adviser will carry out a ‘fact finding’ exercise where they gather all of the important facts regarding a client’s position, as well as understanding their feelings and emotions towards specific subjects.  This is a very two-way exercise where it is important to build the fullest picture possible.  With regard to investment and retirement planning, this process will involve assessing a client’s attitude towards risk, understanding their aims, objectives, knowledge and experience as well as their capacity to sustain financial loss

Once the adviser has a clear picture of the client’s circumstances, they will go away to formulate specific and clear recommendations, which will be presented to the client in the form of a suitability report.  This will explain exactly why the recommendations are suitable for the client, along with other options that have been considered and the risks applicable with accepting the recommendations.

The client will then decide whether to accept the recommendations presented.

IFA Direct Home: Do you find that a client’s initial objective changes following their first meeting with you?

Graham Thompson: Yes, this is quite often the case.  The financial world is rarely straightforward and it is common for there to be a range of solutions that may be suitable for a client.  A recent example would be following the huge changes to the rules on accessing pension funds.  It is easy to read or watch an article on the subject and feel that you then know the right action to take, but quite often, these articles do not take into account the full picture and there may well be an option out there that is more suitable to a client’s specific requirements.

I have reviewed clients who were dead set on on taking a pension fund as cash, only to realise that they would be giving up a fantastic rate of guaranteed retirement income if they did.  After looking at the full picture, they would have been significantly worse off by taking the cash from their pension and therefore changed their minds.  It may have cost them to receive the advice, but had they not elected to take the advice, they could have been thousands of pounds out of pocket and would have lost an important source of guaranteed income at a level which is simply unavailable today.

IFA Direct Home: How much does advice cost?

Graham Thompson: This does vary based on the type of advice and the regulatory risk of that advice to the firm.  As mentioned earlier, it really is the backing of the advice and the protection that offers, that you are paying for.  If an adviser gets the advice wrong, it can cost tens of thousands of pounds to put right.  Advice fees therefore reflect this risk.  Typically, if a client was investing a lump sum, we would charge in the region of 3% of the amount invested.  So if a sum of £10,000 was invested, that would equate to around a fee of £300.  If an amount of £50,000 was invested, then the fee would be around £1,500.  The fees can either be paid directly by the client or they can be taken from their investment or pension.  It is down to the client to decide how they pay us.

As well as paying for initial advice, a client may wish to receive on-going advice on their investments or pensions.  For this we would usually charge between 0.5% and 0.75% of the value of the pension or investment per annum.

Advice on protection products (such as protection against death or ill health) is still paid for through commissions paid by the relevant insurance company.

IFA Direct Home: Isn’t it a catch-22 situation to be spending money to find out how to save money?

Graham Thompson: It can seem like that initially, but hopefully after understanding my earlier points, it is clearer why paying for advice is important.  If an investment does not meet a client’s risk tolerance level, that can lead to them panicking at the wrong time and withdrawing their funds at a significant loss.  If an investment a client has chosen performs badly, then that can see them lose thousands when compared to an investment a regulated adviser may have selected.  Similarly, an investment a client may have selected my have high on-going charges.  The compound effect of these charges can make the charges paid to receive the advice seem tiny in comparison.

IFA Direct Home: How often do you review the financial situation with your clients?

Graham Thompson: This all depends on the type of client and their on-going needs.  Some clients have fairly simple financial needs and are invested within plans which only need to be reviewed every year or even every 2 years.  Some clients have more complex needs, which require several meetings throughout the year, often alongside other financial professionals.

Ryan Mellor, Co-founder at IFA Direct Home

If you are an Independent Financial Advisor or Restricted Advisor and would be interested in working with us,
Click here to find out more.

Interview with Ryan Mellor, Sales Director of RMT Group

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Ryan, why do you think the UK market financial services lead generation is so interesting for RMT Group?

I think the UK market is interesting for two main reasons. The first reason is that our brand RMT Group and RMT Direct Leads is well recognized in the UK by Independent Financial Advisors and Restricted Advisors alike because of its great reputation for high quality appointments offered, which has helped us achieve steady growth over the past 4 years.

Large financial advice networks and its advisors rely on our customer acquisition solutions, such as True Potential, SJPP and Charles  Derby. We work in total with 35  financial advisor firms who have a constant demand for our appointments. We have now completed a large number of appointments and positive testimonials over the past 4 years that we now use to strengthen the positive image of our brand. We are also #1 on Google UK for many related financial services lead search terms.

The second reason is our role in the UK market. We have recently registered a Gibraltar office that applies no VAT to the sale of services to the UK means we have a unique 20% advantage over our UK competition. Gibraltar itself is dominated by financial services and online gambling. It represents a big opportunity to take RMT Group to another level and expand volumes considerably.

How are financial services lead generation doing at the moment?

Since the introduction of the Retail Distribution Review in 2012 we have seen strong demand for financial services leads. To put it simply, it is now very feasible for a financial advisor to buy in leads and turn these into fees with relative ease as you are now giving the consumer a service that should improve their financial situation. We have almost unlimited demand for our appointment service but the difficulty lies in generating the actual appointments, which is becoming increasingly challenging. Through data profiling we have stemmed the natural decline in call rate conversions, which has happened over the past 2 years due to PPI and Charity telephone campaigns which have impacted negatively in the consumers mind. Added to that the recent clampdown by the Information Commissioners Office (ICO) on opted-in data has resulted in Call Credit Group pulling out of the market for the supply of consumer data in February this year, which has made data acquisition very much more difficult.  We have discovered that a appointment setting is still our strongest sector. It represents 60% of everything we do. We moved into the online financial services lead generation earlier this year which is growing steadily.

What strategy have you put in place?

There are three clear strategy points that I’ve been focusing on. We’ve been focusing on upholding the great brand that RMT Group represents. We must always be aware of perception in the market, our customer service, so that our brand stays strong. Our second strategy is to do business with both clients and end-users in both the online financial services sector and financial advisor appointment setting, which is our strongest area. Thirdly, to be the number one choice for high quality financial advisor appointments covering the UK.

Are there any activities or current projects you could talk to us about?

This year we have rebranded IFA Direct to IFA Direct Home and launched a brand new website and brand, Local Professional Direct. This will enable RMT Group to expand into other verticals such as Mortgages, Insurance, Accountants and even Architect’s leads.

Could you tell us a bit more about your call centre, its structure and the people

We have colleagues who have spent a long time at RMT Group, such as Ann Causer and Peter Buckley. They know the product and our people very well. We’ve been working together for a long time. It is important to have trustworthy and reliable RMT Group colleagues.

Three years ago, we had the possibility to move to larger premises, which we did and more recently we added a second office for the online activities. We like to have a good atmosphere between our colleagues. We always do a summer event, this year being in Malaga and we also get together every year for the Christmas party in our favourite restaurant Ponchos. There are 15 of us all together in the office. There is an Operations Manager, two administration assistants ten co-ordinators,  Charlotte Till, who is the Operations Director, and myself.

Could you tell us about your background?

After my university degree, I began my career as a trainee architect for the architectural firm Lawrence Tring Architect’s. I then had the opportunity to work as a technical coordinator for a social housing developer company in London, Lovell’s, before moving on to Taylor Woodrow. After relocating to Spain 11 years ago, I started a new career in marketing overseas property and investments before setting up my own company. In 2012, with Charlotte Till, I set up RMT Group (UK) Ltd a company providing financial services leads to the new restructured financial services sector before setting up RMT Group Limited in Gibraltar in 2015. We own the brands IFA Direct Home and Local Professional Direct. I live in Spain with my partner Charlotte Till and we have one son.

IFA Perspective: Ramsy Dhillon at Intelligent Financial Advisory (IFA)

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IFA Direct Home: Can you tell us a bit about your background?

Ramsy Dhillon: I am a graduate with a BSc Honours degree in Mathematics. I am now a Company Director at Intelligent Financial Advisory and a Chartered Independent Financial Planner and Pensions Specialist with over 10 years experience working in various high street banks such as Alliance & Leicester, Halifax, Santander as well as several years experience in the independent financial services market.

IFA Direct Home: Who should be seeking advice?

Ramsy Dhillon: Everyone from the age of 18 to 100 could benefit from a financial review whether it be to review any existing plans or set up new plans such as savings, insurances, mortgages, investments or pensions. Anyone with an existing pension should be having a regular review to ensure that the plan is still in line with their objectives and set up in line with the recent changes to pension laws and freedoms. Final Salary or Defined Benefit schemes were always seen as the Rolls Royce of pensions but this may not be the case and these should also be reviewed as once you have made your decision you may not be able to go back.

IFA Direct Home: Why should they seek advice over making a decision themselves?

Ramsy Dhillon: Would you go to the doctor if you felt unwell? Would you go to a solicitor if you wanted legal advice? Would you go to an accountant to help you with your tax and accounts? In the same way a Financial Adviser is qualified to give you advice with regards to your finances. Also by receiving advice you have additional protection from the Financial Ombudsman and the Financial Services Compensation Scheme that you are unlikely to have if you were to do the same investment without advice. I have numerous years experience in the Financial Services industries and have additional enhanced qualifications to be classified as a Chartered Financial Planner.

IFA Direct Home: What financial pitfalls might people come across?

Ramsy Dhillon: People may have inadequate savings/investment/pension provisions for their objectives and may not realise until it is too late. They may be missing out on tax benefits and reliefs available from the tax man/HMRS and the government. They may have the wrong plan/product or may be paying excess fees, all which would affect the suitability and/or outcome of their plan. Finally they may not seek advice and go ahead with something that a friend has done or recommended and realise too late by which time they may be unable to reverse or undo their decision.

IFA Direct Home: Can you explain the process of receiving financial advice?

Ramsy Dhillon: There is no set process as such and every adviser will have their own style and process. However, all advisers should start by introducing themselves and how they work, to include costs and charges and their specific procedures. They should complete a detailed fact find and find out what the specific needs and objectives are of the individual. They should then carry out sufficient research to find a suitable solution before presenting back to the prospective client. The benefit of seeking advice from a truly independent adviser is that there is no bias or conflict of interest and I am working for you and your interests rather than a third party or product provider.

IFA Direct Home: Do you find that a client’s initial objective changes following their first meeting with you?

Ramsy Dhillon: Generally a client’s objectives do not change in the short term, though they may change or evolve over the longer term. However a client may have preconceptions about what the solution may be which may not always be the best outcome or solution to meet their needs and objectives. It is the adviser’s responsibility to uncover the true needs and objectives and then ensure that the correct solution is provided.

IFA Direct Home: How much does advice cost?

Ramsy Dhillon: Again, different advisers and companies have different charges and charging structures. However the adviser should clearly explain the charging structure and charges before providing any advice and before the client has committed to anything.

IFA Direct Home: Isn’t it a catch-22 situation to be spending money to find out how to save money?

Ramsy Dhillon: There may not necessarily be any cost for an initial meeting or discussion to determine whether an adviser can provide a client with a saving or greater return on their investments. And an adviser would not be allowed to make a recommendation if it is not in the best interest of the client.

IFA Direct Home: How often do you review the financial situation with your clients?

Ramsy Dhillon: Again this is dependent on the individual and their situation. It would depend on what was recommended and what level of service the client wanted going forward. I would recommend a review in person face to face once a year as an absolute minimum.

Only 5% of Pensions are ‘Flexible Pensions’

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flexible pensions

With just over two months gone since the new pension freedoms were introduced, those with defined contribution pension schemes, also known as money purchase plans, can now dip into their retirement saving or blow the entire pot from the age of 55.

Feedback from our IFAs suggests that the biggest reason for transferring a pension is not the levy of the high pension charges, but inflexible pension schemes that do not allow this new facility which allows you to dip into your retirement savings as and when you feel like it.

Sharad Champaneria, an IFA at BDWM, said this week that the biggest reason for transferring pensions is that the majority of pension policies do not reflect the new law that came into effect in April 2015. “It seems that the law has changed but the vast majority of existing pension contracts have not and do not offer a flexible pension draw-down type facility. Some providers offer flexible pensions that permit income draw-down. But to access a flexible pension scheme would mean transferring the pension policy to alternative plan before you can access the cash in your pension. And this,  would require financial advice  fees,” he said.

It seems that in order to gain access to a pension that allows flexible access you are going to have to pay a financial advisor at some point. So even if you are some years away from retiring, you may as well get a modern flexible pension plan  with lower annual management charges to lock in the savings before your retire.

The scale of providers not allowing full flexible is pretty widespread. In a survey by Xafinity reported in an article headed “We can’t get pension cash complain some over-55s” stated that only 5% of providers allow “full pension flexibility”.  Indeed, The Association of British Insurers (ABI), said transferring would be the best option for many. “Customers can access flexible pension options but may need to transfer first,” said a spokesperson for the ABI.

Ryan Mellor, Co-founder at IFA Direct Home

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