A recent visit to Swansea proved the IFA scene in Wales’ second biggest city to be lively, much like student Wednesdays on Wind Street.
Our first stop was at Planet 3 Wealth, a new firm at just over a year old. The firm may be young but it is not naïve. Directors Christopher Morgan, Nick Romanello and Richard Stephens set it up in November 2015 after meeting at local firm Hedley Asset Management, where they worked on a self-employed basis.
After some welcoming banter and numerous Wind Street recommendations, the trio spoke about their plans to become a forward thinking firm. It has been a seamless process so far. They received authorisation from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in eight weeks and an amicable departure from Hedley allowed for a smooth client transition.
When it comes to local client demographic, Romanello tells us a cautious attitude prevails. Job security, within the mining and steel industries for example, has influenced attitudes towards investing.
‘Swansea has a lot of people working in the public sector, such as the council and the NHS,’ says Romanello. ‘It was always a case of putting money away for a rainy day and that mentality is deep rooted.’
Our second meeting, with Luke Stanley (pictured), independent financial planner at Tenby-based ND Toy & Partners, reaffirms this. ‘Clients aren’t happy to see drastic fluctuations, so a smooth approach like PruFund’s, which is what we would call portfolios rated three or four on the Dynamic Planner risk scale, is ideal,’ says Stanley.
He tells us most of the population have held industrial roles, so they are not attuned to the idea of investing in things other than owning a property.
Clients may be guarded but there are plenty to go around. Planet 3 has experienced an increase in clients as a result of bank closures. ‘We’d like to advise everyone but it’s whether there’s enough value in that. It’s hard having to turn people away,’ Romanello says.
Stanley has identified an opportunity with potential clients needing advice on what to do with pension pots that have accrued modestly over time. These pots may stem from before the retail distribution review came into force, during the days of collecting premiums on doorsteps.
Networks and nationals such as True Potential and St James’s Place have a big presence in Swansea. Romanello says one of St James’s Place’s top recruiters lives and works here, snapping up top local adviser talent. ‘They’re aggressive in their recruitment,’ says Romanello, who goes on to say that, despite lots of local competition, IFAs here are collaborative and referrals are common.
We leave Swansea confident there is an increasing demand for advice here, and wish Stanley, Morgan, Stephens and Romanello luck as they continue to grow their client banks.