New Model Adviser® star profiles: the class of 2017 part one

In the first of a two part feature we look back at the advisers we profiled in 2017 and their businesses.

Name: Steve Balmer

Firm:  David Allen Financial Services

Date: 13 January

Location: Cumbria

What you need to know: David Allen Financial Services, part of the David Allen Group, was set up to be a jargon-free, one-stop shop for investments, retirement planning, wills, trusts, mortgages and estate services

Investment style: 100% active

They say:  'If we just passed on that £100-a-month guy to the internet just because he’s "not worth it" then he won’t come back.'

Top tip: If you do not take care of your customers and staff, someone else will.

Assets under advice: £90 million

Recurring income: 40%

Name: Steve Balmer

Firm:  David Allen Financial Services

Date: 13 January

Location: Cumbria

What you need to know: David Allen Financial Services, part of the David Allen Group, was set up to be a jargon-free, one-stop shop for investments, retirement planning, wills, trusts, mortgages and estate services

Investment style: 100% active

They say:  'If we just passed on that £100-a-month guy to the internet just because he’s "not worth it" then he won’t come back.'

Top tip: If you do not take care of your customers and staff, someone else will.

Assets under advice: £90 million

Recurring income: 40%

Name: Phil Frapple & Chris Rigby

Firm: Nexus IFA

Date: 20 January

Location: Somerset

What you need to know: The family-run firm has been snapping up businesses in the South West, but do not call it a consolidator. Clients can choose a percentage fee or hourly rate.

Investment style: 95% active, 5% passive

They say: 'Some people buy client banks and treat clients as tradeable assets, and that’s not right. You have to treat clients as people with hopes and dreams and worries.'

Top tip: Make a plan and revisit it every three months.

Assets under advice: £410 million

Recurring income: 50%

Name: Chris Holmes

Firm: Almus Wealth

Date: 27 January

Location: London

What you need to know: The firm specialised in social impact investing. Keen cook and baker Holmes left Alan Boswell to set up Almus where he is sole adviser.

Investment style: 90% active

They say:  'I had quite a serious talk with myself about what I did and what I think we are passing on to the next generation, as I am concerned the state is failing in what it is doing.'

Top tip: Advice is changing and we need to be open about how we will be affected, and change accordingly.

Assets under advice: £70 million   

Recurring income: 60%

Name: Cliff Patterson & Louise Morris (and Finn the dog)

Firm: AV Trinity

Date: 7 February 

Location: Tunbridge Wells

What you need to know: Almost two years ago the managing director and founder of the firm, Karen Vidler, passed away. Since then the team she had put in place to take the business forward has carried on her legacy of charitable work and caring for staff and clients, while deciding to revamp the business model.

Investment style: 75% active

They say: 'Our plan is to focus on paraplanning. That is quite new for us. We brought in the first one just over a year ago and he is a godsend.'

Top tip: Have a strategic plan and vision covering at least three years.

Assets under advice: £400 million 

Recurring income: 75%

Name: Iain Mackie

Firm: Fraser Wealth Management     

Date: 10 February

Location: Liverpool

What you need to know: Mackie joined the board of the firm in 2011 as a non-advising managing director. The move has allowed directors Paul Bocking and Kevin Gillibrand to work harder on growing the business.

Investment style: 87% active

They say: 'We have the business as good as we can get it. Now I want to focus more on getting out, marketing the business and telling people how wonderful we are.'

Top tip: Look after your staff: continuity is vital for your relationship with clients and professional connections.

Assets under advice: £200 million           

Recurring income: 88%


Name: Russell Davidson

Firm: Davidson Asset Management   

Date: 17 February

Location: Glasgow

What you need to know: The firm has carved out a niche over the past 14 years working with high end hotels, helping staff with their pensions.

Investment style: 65% active

They say: We’re lucky we have a lot of staff that are dedicated beyond the nine-to-five. Mainly it’s been good recruiting specialised people, and we don’t micromanage our staff.

Top tip: Manage your time properly as everything takes longer than expected.

Assets under advice: £150 million           

Recurring income: 80%

Name: David Gow & Keith Mackie

Firm: Acumen Financial Planning

Date: 24 February

Location: Aberdeen.

What you need to know: Managing director Sandy Robertson and certified financial planner Bill Saunders were New Model Adviser® cover stars back in 2008. In 2014 Mackie and Gow saw asked for a stake in the business, and got it. Last year Robertson stepped back from advising.

Investment style: 65% passive

They say: ‘I joined the company because of Sandy and Bill. They’re both inspirational people. My own understanding is that our managing director is the grandfather of financial planning,’ Gow.

Top tip: Have a vision of current and future financial services provision in the UK and the exact role you wish your firm to play in that.

Assets under advice: £435 million

Recurring income: 89%

Name: Phillip Owen & Anthony O’Connor

Firm: RPG Wealth

Date: 06 March    

Location: Manchester

What you need to know: RPG advises mainly business owners, but looks after NHS workers and personal injury clients, as well as GP practices and law firms. The firm is linked to a sister business, RPG Chartered Accountants.

Investment style: 50% active 50% passive

They say: ‘The old model is annual review, a 10-minute chat about investments, shake hands and arrange the next review. If that’s what you do now, you’re an Apple or a Google programme away from being extinct.’

Top tip: Think from the outside in: challenge every output through a client’s eyes.

Assets under advice: £110 million 

Recurring income: 75%

Name: Raj Shah  

Firm: Blue Wealth Capital

Date: 31 March    

Location: Sheffield

What you need to know: Food buff and financial life planner Shah currently advises 45 families involved in owner-managed businesses drawing on the George Kinder Evoke process and cashflow modelling.

Investment style: 30% active 70% passive

They say: ‘I originally wondered what was going to happen when I lost the brand of the company I came from. Do people buy the brand or do they buy the person? Evidently it’s the person.’

Top tip: Eat clean and exercise regularly – your family, clients and business will thank you.

Assets under advice: £25 million   

Recurring income: 90%

Name: Olivia Bowen      

Firm: Castlefield

Date: 8 March

Location: Manchester

What you need to know: Ethical investment specialist Castlefield, owned by a charitable trust, has grown steadily. First it bought Manchester-based Gaeia in 2011 to create an advice business called Castlefield Gaeia. It then bought Barchester Green in June 2014.

Investment style: Ethical, 90% active

They say: ‘There’s no reason not to do ethical investment, and it can give you a unique selling point. Clients will be more loyal, and it’s a good way of building rapport, because you’re sharing similar concerns.’

Top tip: Do not be afraid to challenge the status quo.

Assets under advice: £325 million 

Recurring income: 78%

Name: Ben Cordiner      

Firm: The Financial Advice Company

Date: 24 March

Location: Leeds

What you need to know: Cordiner took an old model company and has reshaped it into a forward-thinking firm aimed at attracting young clients. Luckily Cordiner practices ashtanga yoga, where the aim is to flow effortlessly between one position and the next.

Investment style: 4% active 96% passive

They say: ‘We are dealing with a person, not a computer, and dealing with life, which will always throw a curve ball.’

Top tip: Listen to your peers when sharing best practice and ideas: no one has all the answers.

Assets under advice: £88 million   

Recurring income: 95%

Name: Nicola (pictured left) and Jennifer Ellis 

Firm: Wellington Wealth

Date: 31 March

Location: London

What you need to know: Nicola and Jennifer have taken the reigns from their father Raymond who now works part time on the firm’s investment proposition and compliance. Nicola won Scotland on Sunday’s IFA of the Year award in 2014 and 2015. 

Investment style: 85% active 15% passive 

They say: 'In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.'

Top tip: Every pound paid in fees is a pound less return for clients.

Assets under advice: £45 million   

Recurring income: 80%

Name: Lisa Hardman              

Firm: Investing Ethically

Date: 10 April      

Location: Norwich

What you need to know: Investing Ethically has taken the plunge into social impact investment. Alan Kirkham founded the company in 2000 and based it on the business principles of honesty, transparency and integrity drawn from his Quaker religious views.

Investment style: Ethical/social impact, 100% active

They say: ‘Structures can be complex and untested. But such investments have to start somewhere to become mainstream. So we explain to clients that they must be able to write the money off.’

Top tip: Invest in yourself, your business and your staff.

Assets under advice: £120 million

Recurring income: 65%

Name: Jeannie Boyle (technical director)

Firm: EQ Investors        

Date: 13 April

Location: London

What you need to know: EQ Investors has half a billion pounds under advice, an in-house discretionary fund manager (which has led the firm to go restricted) a robo-advice proposition (Simply EQ), and a growing business that is set to bring in over £5.5 million in income this year.

Investment style: 85% active, 15% passive

They say: ‘We’re a restricted business because we have our own DFM, and most of our clients seem to be very comfortable with that.’

Top tip: Get out and about. Do not stay in your comfort zone.

Assets under advice: £700 million 

Recurring income: 90%

Name: Saran Allott-Davey      

Firm: Heron House Financial Management  

Date: 21 April

Location: Newport

What you need to know: Heron House last featured as a New Model Adviser® cover star in 2007. Since then, financial planning pioneer Allott-Davey has kept pushing the firm forwards and won an incredible six of the eight New Model Adviser® regional awards she has entered the firm for since then.

Investment style: 75% active, 25% passive

They say: ‘The profession is too fragmented, so we need to stop being competitive and all come together to represent good financial planning.’

Top tip: Always put clients’ interest first. Do not raise fees just because they trust you.

Assets under advice: £260 million 

Recurring income: 92%

Name: Duncan Glassey

Firm: Wealthflow

Date: 5 May

Location: Edinburgh

What you need to know: Wealthflow has a medical niche which started when some clients who are Queen’s Council barristers saw the potential of Glassey’s cashflow modelling work for the families involved and encouraged him to pursue it.

Investment style: 100% passive

They say: ‘When I did the certified qualification, it was a revelation that financial planners must have joined-up thinking. We are proud to be part of that elite group that keeps raising the bar.’

Top tip: Find a business niche.

Assets under advice: £120 million 

Recurring income: 100%

Name: Brian Hill

Firm: Jones Hill

Date: 22 May

Location: Wiltshire

What you need to know: Extreme endurance racing enthusiast is charting relatively uncharted territory with a franchise model.

Investment style: 5% active, 95% passive

They say: ‘Percentage fees create an inherent bias and they bear no relation to the adviser’s value.’ 

Top tip: Have a weekly whiteboard celebrating your clients’ successes that you have helped them achieve.

Assets under advice: £100 million 

Recurring income: 80%

Name: Keri Carter

Firm: Broadway Financial Planning

Date: 26 May

Location: Cotswolds

What you need to know: Managing director Carter joined in 2001 and in 2009 started buying in to Broadway. She now owns 80% and will buy the remainder from previous managing director Simon Pymm Williamson in 2019.

Investment style: 45% active, 55% passive

They say: ‘When people see what financial planning can do, they think: "this is better than anything I’ve previously had".’

Top tip: Avoid commercial loneliness – build a network of supporters.

Assets under advice: £60 million   

Recurring income: 78%

Name: Victor Sacks

Firm: VS Associates

Date: 15 June

Location: Huntingdon

What you need to know: The drumming sole trader made a few headlines for helping a client take on global advice firm deVere Group in a two-year battle that eventually paid out £190,000. Sacks started his career in 1994 as an adviser with HSBC in London, but left in 2011 to set up VS.

Investment style: 70% active, 30% passive

They say: ‘You need self-belief to give up the security of an employed job. But now I have done that, it feels fantastic. I spend more time with my family and appreciate what I have.’

Top tip: Believe you can make a difference.

Assets under advice: £10 million

Recurring income: 38%

Share this story

More Content



2 Comments Running out of money is the biggest retirement fear

Running out of money is the biggest retirement fear

Running out of money is the number one fear when we think about retirement.