‘Financial advice is actually a tame industry,’ says Jennifer Ellis over breakfast at Glasgow’s Cafe Gandolfi. Before you react to that with shock and surprise, bear in mind Ellis’ route into the profession included a stint working offshore for an oil company. ‘Being offshore for a while actually helps you to get on with people,’ she explains.
‘You’re in a confined space, and there were some folks a lot of people wouldn’t be able to handle.’ That experience is clearly more than suitable preparation for testing and candid client conversations, not to mention working in a team.
Ellis runs Wellington Wealth alongside sister Nicola Ellis and her father Raymond Ellis. Unsurprisingly, she emphasises the importance of family and client service.
‘We’ve never had any barriers to what we want to do,’ says Ellis, acknowledging her upbringing, and also that Wellington Wealth is a female-led firm. ‘We’ve been surrounded by strong and inspirational people, and for us it’s normal for women to achieve their ambitions.’
Jennifer and Nicola have comfortably surpassed the targets they set when they appeared on the New Model Adviser® cover in 2017. Revenue grew to over £405,000 last year, and assets under management have now exceeded more than £60 million. They initially set targets of £302,000 and £45 million, respectively, for the end of 2017.
While word of mouth has been a valuable asset in bringing in new clients, Ellis believes the firm’s charging structure has positioned it well.
‘We’re not greedy on fees,’ she says. ‘A lot of people charge 1% ongoing and that’ll probably come under pressure soon with fee disclosure. We’re now at 0.75% and getting so many enquiries. Our fees were lower before, but we’ve actually had a lot more clients getting in touch since we raised the fees.’
Nicola gave birth to her daughter Charlie in December 2015, and will shortly be returning from maternity leave following the birth of another girl, Robyn, at the start of March. ‘She’s been amazing with juggling Charlie and her career,’ Jennifer tells me, noting Nicola has been working flexibly, including a day at home on Mondays. ‘That’s the way the world’s going,’ Jennifer adds. ‘You’ve got to let people live their lives.’
Ellis notes the wider family regularly stays in touch too. ‘Nicky used to put together a family newspaper,’ she says, before flashing a grin and remarking she has ‘tonnes of stories of near-death experiences.’ It turns out one of her cousins was struck by lightning in Uganda, and an uncle was almost struck by a train after driving across a level crossing in Algeria. Another uncle and aunt were caught up in a military coup in Gabon.
Focusing the agenda back on the business, Ellis says the immediate business plan is to continue Wellington’s controlled and organic growth. ‘We won’t take on every client and we’ll raise the minimum assets level for new clients,’ she explains. ‘Above all, the aim for this year is just to treat our clients well.’
Tea or coffee
At breakfast it’s coffee.
How do you like your eggs?
For Christmas morning breakfast, Dad makes porridge with Drambuie and fresh cream.
Best business decision
To go out on our own.
I’m a happy morning person. I genuinely don’t get annoyed – even in the morning.
Doing well in a business and sharing it with family. Seeing my sister do so well is a particular highlight.