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Jason Butler: why I've left advice

Stepping down from a business you built from scratch takes courage and humility, but if it allows for the pursuit of other passions you'd be mad not to.

Jason Butler: why I've left advice

Last week Bloomsbury principal Jason Butler announced he was leaving the London advice firm, which he had built up over the past 17 years, to embark on a career in public speaking and investing in new and exciting projects that will help people engage with their finances. Butler spoke to New Model Adviser® to explain what he was doing next and why his firm was in good hands:

There are things I want to do that a career in advice prepared me perfectly for and the business had reached a point where it could exist without me.

Over the past few years I was doing less and less in the business and did not have the same enthusiasm. That is not to say there was not more to be done, but it no longer felt like my calling.

I read a lot about self-improvement and I realised the business was not making me 100% happy. I had money and autonomy, and was not running myself into the ground. But I decided I did not want to have any regrets in life.

Mass appeal

I love public speaking, writing and engaging with people. Financial education is all about smart decisions.

I help people make better decisions when I give advice, but I wanted to influence tens of thousands of people or even millions to make good financial decisions.

Therefore I decided I wanted to be a professional public speaker. In my job as an adviser I have spoken with over 1,000 people in the last 20 years about their finances.

I am more knowledgeable (and qualified) than other people in public speaking when it comes to talking to people about money.

There will be various projects for me to get involved in too, such as writing, animation and videos, though I’ll be behind the camera, creating stuff advisers can use to engage clients.

Financial education also covers a lot of different areas: the use of technology (in or outside of advice firms) workshops in schools, seminars and video. It can be anywhere and everywhere.

I have a small shareholding in robo-advice firm Advicefront. It will provide a white-labelled online advice platform, including financial modelling and model portfolios to financial advice firms who want help dealing with a wider range of clients.

I am interested in any business that works for people's financial wellbeing, and I will invest my money and time in such ventures.

At present no one is talking to people about the basics such as why to invest, understanding risk or financial planning. I want to fill that gap.

Moving on

In terms of my business, Bloomsbury, I realised it was not really fair for the firm to pay me for doing less and less. I was not doing any front-of-house work. I had effectively made myself redundant.

Internal succession is always the preferred route. A firm like ours always has prospective purchasers but I knew the directors loved and cared for the business.

Indeed, I had always wanted the firm to be self-sustaining. The business is much more than one person and it has a track record.

I know I will not be letting any clients down. I had been dealing with some people for 20 years, the average was 15 years, and they know the standard I have set will continue under the firm's principals Robert Lockie and Carolyn Gowen, who have been at the firm for 15 and 13 years respectively.

They started out as employees and have gradually taken larger and larger stakes in the company. Neither of them saw themselves as entrepreneurs or business leaders when they joined.

But they did well by clients and they have proven their capability to manage the business.

I had built a business, not just a lifestyle where I earned a living by giving advice. I could have earned a larger salary but we invested in technology, in our processes and in our staff. That is the reason it can exist without me.

The business will have to keep adapting but it is more valuable now I am not part of it. It has proved it can exist without me.

I was the face of the business but it has developed and will have its own identity.

Now I am fully out of it they can make their own decisions without worrying: 'What will Jason think?'

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