Burns Night blockbusters: 10 top Scottish advice firms

In honour of Burns night, we bring you a selection of top Scottish advice firms and their advisers. Hoots mon!

It is Burns night tonight! In honour of this great Scottish occasion, we bring you ten top Scots who have graced our pages, won awards or simply been outstanding in the last year. 

Click on to see our run-down, but not before you read the Selkirk Grace, which is attributed to Robert Burns' fine hand.

'Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit!'

It is Burns night tonight! In honour of this great Scottish occasion, we bring you ten top Scots who have graced our pages, won awards or simply been outstanding in the last year. 

Click on to see our run-down, but not before you read the Selkirk Grace, which is attributed to Robert Burns' fine hand.

'Some hae meat and canna eat,
And some wad eat that want it,
But we hae meat and we can eat,
And sae the Lord be thankit!'

Cardozo and Gorman

Names: Stuart Cardozo and Shane Gorman 

Firm: SWC Independent 

Description:

We profiled SWC Independent in April last year. Cardozo and Gorman are an impressive double act, whose financial planning practice is grounded in their local community, and driven by determination following a tragedy. Shane Gorman’s father was killed in the Piper Alpha oil rig disaster 30 years ago. They have spent time and effort assisting the families of oil workers, and Gorman still gives up his hours to promote onshore working safety. 

Top quote:

'Everything is about the safety of the person who is offshore and they don’t think of the partners and kids, and the security they need,' Gorman says. 

Hat-trick for Acumen 

Names: Sandy Robertson and David Gow 

Firm: Acumen Financial Planning

Location: Aberdeen

Description:

Acumen Financial Planning had a barnstorming year in 2018, picking up a Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment award, appearing in our Top 100 and then going on this month to win our regional award for Scotland and Northern Ireland at our annual conference and awards. Acumen had won that twice previously, making this their hat-trick. Managing director Sandy Robertson and director and chartered financial planner David Gow are pictured above with their most recent win. 

Top quote:

'The foundations are that we look after clients, we help clients, but more importantly we've got staff that we really really value. They help us to deliver the service that our clients absolutely love,' says Gow.  

Harder than you think...

Name: Alan Hardie

Firm: McHardy Financial

Location: Aberdeen

Description: 

An appearance in our 2018 Top 100 advice firms lands McHardy Financial firmly in this list of top Scots, here is what we said about the firm at the time:

Keen financial life planner firm McHardy has signed up to the Inspiring Adviser course run by Paul Armson. It sent all its registered individuals and paraplanners to a training course in Edinburgh and signed up five planners to its online training programme. The aim is to make the best use of cashflow planning processes and improve outcomes for clients. The Scottish firm’s growth plans involve recruiting young talent and handing them responsibility for client banks acquired from retiring IFAs. McHardy Financial also has a high profile in the local area through radio adverts and sponsoring the local rugby team.

Top quote:

'The first thing I do is lay the foundations of a strong relationship with the client. This might require three or four meetings before we are ready to decide the plan. From that point, the client becomes aware that we are going to be there every step of the way, with regular reviews to reinforce that point,' Hardie said in a 2016 article.

Murphy's law

Name: Adrian Murphy

Firm: Murphy Wealth

Location: Glasgow

Description:

Having taken over the running of Murphy Wealth from his father, Adrian Murphy is clearly playing a strong hand. We profiled the business in 2017, and last year Murphy appeared in our annual Top 100 of best advice businesses. A special shout out to Murphy for setting up a graduate scheme to get more young blood into the profession. 

Top quote:

‘One of the big pieces in our positioning project was positioning against. What do "they" do? Let’s do the opposite of that,' Murphy told us in 2017.

Lothian in the lead

Name: Paul Lothan 

Firm: Verus Wealth

Location: Dundee

Description:

Paul Lothan's firm was featured in our Top 100 last year. Throughout 2019, Dundee-based Verus Wealth has plans to make itself less reliant on director and former Personal Finance Spociety (PFS) president Lothian’s day-to-day involvement. This feeds into to a longer-term succession plan, which may go down the route of an employee-ownership scheme, we were told.

This year the firm also plans to have two more of its advisers attain chartered status, have four staff sit and pass the AF7 exam, and have its second paraplanner gain diploma status through the PFS. 

Top quote:

'I became president of the PFS for two years in 2008 after joining the board in 2006. I thought by joining I could exact the right influence on the right people. I am very proud of what we did in the end,' Lothian said, speaking to us in 2015. 

 

Winning with Welsh

Name: Ken Welsh

Firm: VWM Wealth

Location: Glasgow

Description:

We profiled Ken Welsh and his firm in 2014, but VWM was still standing out to us last year, so we included it in our Top 100. Firms often talk about being client-centric. But the use of client advisory boards, where clients are invited to help develop the firm’s own services, is a further step. VWM says it carefully selected members of its own client advisory board by age, vocation, education and gender and appointed four clients from different backgrounds. The Glasgow-based firm booked a table at a nice restaurant and gathered the clients together. The clients were given a brief history of the firm and were able to give their views about the business. 

Top quote:

'IFAs who outsource their investments should be charging 0.5% [for advice], but our service is bundled. My model is low volume, high margin. It gives us plenty of time to work on clients’ affairs and therefore add value. We don’t have to chase new business, which would curtail that time,' he told us in 2014. 

 

 

Going with the Wealthflow

Name: Duncan Glassey

Firm: Wealthflow

Location: Edinburgh

Description:

Keen chess player Duncan Glassey is a top businessman and a long-time contributor to NMA's features and news coverage. It will surprise nobody, then, to learn that Glassey was once again nominated for the Scotland and Northern Ireland regional award at our annual conference and awards last month. Glassey has made his name helping clients who have suddenly come into money as a result of personal injury claims and lottery wins. We always look forward to hearing whatever business development plans he has in the pipeline next. 

Top quote:

[On helping personal injury clients] 'The families need our help. Parents are fearful about what to do with this money, for example who will look after their child when they are gone.'

 

Creating and prospering 

Name: Graeme Inglis

Firm: Create and Propser

Location: Fife

Description:

Graeme Inglis  director of Create and Prosper (C&P) Financial Services, moved from the world of bank advice to heading up a New Model Adviser® top 100 firm by focusing on a strong service proposition with a personalised approach.

After getting frustrated with the 'target mentality' of bank advice, Inglis decided the time was right to go it alone and create his own business. The retail distribution was on its way, so a fee-based business was the future. Inglis has not looked back since.

Top quote:

'I got frustrated with the target mentality and having too many clients to look after. I have always wanted to run my own business, so I thought, with the RDR coming, it was time. A fee basis and getting the firm chartered were important from day one,' he told us in 2013. 

Clari-netting the best clients

Name: Ailsa Brown

Firm: Gilliland Neilson Brown

Location: Glasgow

Description:

Introductions from lawyers, accounts and mailshots helped Ailsa Brown in the early years following the firm's founding in 1993, but it was a merger ten years later with Gilliland & Co Financial Services that really set the ball rolling on a bright business's future. Brown's own musical persuasions led to one of our favourite ever cover designs. 

Top quote:

'If we don't have happy clients then we don't have a business,' Brown told UK head of audience development Ian Horne in their interview. 
 

 

Save & Invest

Name: Jeffrey Deans

Firm: Save & Invest

Location: Glasgow

Description:

We heard about Save & Invest via word of mouth - namely the suggestion that it is one of the most exciting IFA firms practising north of the border. NMA features editor Natasha was mightily impressed when she travelled up to Scotland at the back end of last year to profile the firm. Save & Invest's proposition boasts a self-developed platform service, and unique 'house rules' that govern the firm's management of clients' investments. You can read all about that here. 

Top quote:

'We focus on investment because people are paying an annual fee and we’ve got to work for that,' operations director Mary Marsh told Turner last year. 

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