Five Bristol IFAs give us the lowdown on their city

Bristol is a beautiful city, full of art, culture and - in case you were not aware - great financial planning firms.

The de facto capital of the south west, Bristol is home to many thriving industries including arts, media, law and financial services. It was also named as the best place to live in the UK by the Sunday Times in 2017.

Healthy creative and technology industries, mixed with the surrounding country life, made Bristol an easy choice for the On the Road team’s latest visit.

The multi-university town is well known for its independent spirit and is now among the best in the trendiness leagues with hipster hangouts on every corner.

Our graffiti-plastered apartment paid tribute to street artist Banksy, who hails from the area. Much to our delight, it also has some top food spots, which we enjoyed while catching up with advice professionals from the area.

On several occasions Bristol has been named the number one city in which to create a new business. Innovation in the city has a notable history. The Clifton Suspension Bridge (pictured) still cuts an impressive shape high above the Avon Gorge. The city is also the birthplace of Aardman Animations (the creators of Wallace and Gromit) and everyone’s favourite blackcurrant-based drink: Ribena.

We used the trip to speak to advisers at firms of all shapes and sizes, from small financial planning business, to big financial businesses and consolidators. With our list of the Top 35 Next Generation Advisers 2018 published last week, it was nice to see so many young IFAs doing interesting things as well.

Read on to see what they have to say about their businesses and life in the south west.

You can read articles from the postcard series about Liverpool and Birmingham here and here

The de facto capital of the south west, Bristol is home to many thriving industries including arts, media, law and financial services. It was also named as the best place to live in the UK by the Sunday Times in 2017.

Healthy creative and technology industries, mixed with the surrounding country life, made Bristol an easy choice for the On the Road team’s latest visit.

The multi-university town is well known for its independent spirit and is now among the best in the trendiness leagues with hipster hangouts on every corner.

Our graffiti-plastered apartment paid tribute to street artist Banksy, who hails from the area. Much to our delight, it also has some top food spots, which we enjoyed while catching up with advice professionals from the area.

On several occasions Bristol has been named the number one city in which to create a new business. Innovation in the city has a notable history. The Clifton Suspension Bridge (pictured) still cuts an impressive shape high above the Avon Gorge. The city is also the birthplace of Aardman Animations (the creators of Wallace and Gromit) and everyone’s favourite blackcurrant-based drink: Ribena.

We used the trip to speak to advisers at firms of all shapes and sizes, from small financial planning business, to big financial businesses and consolidators. With our list of the Top 35 Next Generation Advisers 2018 published last week, it was nice to see so many young IFAs doing interesting things as well.

Read on to see what they have to say about their businesses and life in the south west.

You can read articles from the postcard series about Liverpool and Birmingham here and here

Glamis gains

We kicked off the trip by meeting up with Charles Chami, director of Glamis IFA, at the Clifton Sausage, famed for its bangers and mash.

Chami was in great spirits having just held the latest Bristol Private Clients event with co-founders Christopher Dowling, investment manager at Rowan Dartington, and Simon Tutton, business development manager at Deepbridge Capital.

The Bristol Private Clients group is a dedicated business network for any professionals working in the private client arena.

The theme for the recent event was tackling time-wasting. Chami, Dowling and Tutton are now considering how to expand the successful format.

Chami said Glamis is keen to expand but emphasised the need to maintain a high quality of service for existing clients. ‘You should only look to expand when you have the resources in place to cope with any extra workload; that way you can maintain a great service for your current clients,’ he said.

To that end Glamis is currently looking to hire a new paraplanner to enhance its back-office capabilities. In the long term Chami has a preference for organic growth but he said he would not rule out an acquisition in the future if the right opportunity came along.

Paradigm planning

Joining us for coffee at The Mockingbird Café from Paradigm Norton were chartered financial planner David Burridge (pictured) and Sally Marshall, who has joined the firm as marketing manager.

Earlier this year Paradigm Norton joined together with fellow financial planning firm The Red House, which is based down the M4 in London.

It is no surprise discussions turned to how Paradigm Norton wants to brand itself, starting with the website. Marshall is working hard to make the site easier to navigate, as this will help her overall target of bringing new clients into the firm.

Aptly for a firm that prides itself on taking care of its clients’ futures, there is plenty of business planning going on. Paradigm is about to run its first trial workshop for clients’ children.

The workshop aims to give an overall education into finance while tackling how to deal with the large inflow of money some of the younger generations will receive from inheritances.

Continuum's competition

Nathan Stacey (pictured), IFA at Continuum, had a smile on his face when we met him at The Mockingbird Café.

Continuum has lots to celebrate right now, including its recent achievement of exceeding its target of advising on £500 million of client assets by the end of this year.

The firm has reached £750 million of assets under advice and has recently signed another six partners to the business. The hires take Continuum to 44 partners in total.

If this was not enough to keep the firm busy, Continuum is also looking forward to the launch of its new website and has recently appointed a new head of marketing. The firm has even released its own app, the Personal Finance Portal.

This year the firm opened another two branches in Hayes (Kent) and Inverness.

Another tactic to put Continuum ahead of the competition was to launch a brand loyalty programme. This was rolled out 18 months ago. Stacey explained it allows clients to receive rewards and discounts at leading retailers.

 AFH's aspirations

Next we met with Ellie Hopton, an adviser at AIM-listed consolidator AFH Wealth Management, for breakfast. Penfold’s Kitchen was our eatery of choice on a blustery morning and we were greeted by the delightful aroma of freshly baked goods.

We first met Hopton in London at this year’s Personal Finance Society graduation ceremony. Hopton did not move to AFH as the result of a business being bought. Rather, she told us, she chose AFH earlier this year after close consideration of a number of other firms.

Hopton said company ethics were an important factor when looking for a firm to work for.

To this end, she also spent time speaking with some employees at AFH before joining. She found the company to be full of supportive people, who were happy to help on her journey into the advice world.

In the past 12 months AFH has announced a steady flow of acquisitions, 16 at last count, and has said it will absorb fees for its platform.

Standing Ovation

Our final meeting was with Tom Morris, chartered financial planner at Ovation Finance, who some may know as ‘Tight Ass Tommo’ from the successful Financial Wellbeing podcast.

Ovation has been passed on to its staff, who now share a stake in it via an employee-ownership trust structure.

Morris was keen to discuss his experience at this year’s NextGen Planners conference. The conference was attended by 191 delegates, 38% of whom were women. Morris explained the importance of taking the profession in a direction that introduces more diversity. He said it was not just a question of equalising things in terms of gender, but also tackling the profession’s generation gap.

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