East of England – Just Financial Planning
Just Financial Planning took home the award for the East of England region after a stellar year. The firm celebrated all three of its advisers becoming chartered, two becoming fellows of the Personal Finance Society, as well as making it into New Model Adviser®’s Top 100 2018.
Financial planner David Coleman (pictured right) said Just’s entry in our Top 100 ‘puts us on a national platform and shows we are among the elite in the profession’. Speaking after the awards, director Holly Heald (pictured left) said while the firm does not plan on significantly expanding in size in the near future, it will look to ‘grow with the right values and with the right priorities for clients… and most importantly the right team of people’.
Greater London – Mazars Financial Planning
New Model Adviser® awards stalwart Mazars received the London award for the third year running, demonstrating its continued success.
While Mazars’ head office is in London, it also has offices around the country and is planning on revamping all of them over the next two to three years. Last year the firm acquired IFA Rowanmoor Consultancy and launched its business assessment project, ‘Optimize’, for small and medium enterprises.
After collecting the award, Ian Pickford (pictured), head of private client services, said: ‘One of the things we pride is professionalism. We also take pride in the fact the people that work for us can be the best they can be and these awards help demonstrate that.’
Scotland & Northern Ireland – Acumen Financial Planning
Acumen Financial Planning also won its third consecutive award. In addition to moving into two new premises in Scotland, the firm secured the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment’s accredited financial planning firm of the year for the second time.
Speaking after the awards, managing director Sandy Robertson (left) said: ‘We continue to develop, we continue to look for good people, we have new properties in Aberdeen and Edinburgh. We are building for our future, so perhaps the panel of judges recognised this.
‘We help clients, we look after clients, but more importantly we’ve got staff we really value. They help us deliver the service that our clients absolutely love.’
The Midlands – Fortitude Financial Planning
2018 winners Fortitude Financial Planning retained the Midlands award. Fortitude director Neil Bailey (pictured) said: ‘The firm is the real winner. I’ve been very lucky to be the face of Fortitude, but it’s always a team effort. The team are going to be delighted.’
The Northampton-based firm attributes its success to the Japanese philosophy of ‘Kaizen’, which focuses on constant improvement. ‘We really try not to rest on our laurels,’ said Bailey. ‘We try to find ways of improving what we do by fine tuning. It’s not always big steps, but we look at what we do and we ask: “can we do this better?”
‘We invite a lot of feedback from our clients and our team to make sure we’re doing things the best we can.’
The North – Berry & Oak
Travelling from Boston Spa in West Yorkshire, Berry & Oak’s founders Sarah and Andrew Elson (pictured) took home the prize for the North.
In 2018 the firm rebranded, launched a new website and began offering financial education events for clients and in schools.
Having achieved a great deal in just three years, managing director Andrew Elson said they are relishing the next stage of development. ‘2019 will be about team and process. We had a fantastic year in 2018 with lots of changes, but this year we want to build the team. There are a few gaps we want to fill that will help us grow our business and a few processes we want to make smoother. 2020: that’s the year to watch us.’
The South East – Skerritt Consultants
Brighton-based Skerritt Consultants again scooped the award for the South East for a record ninth time.
It has been a busy year for the firm, which launched five retail funds, launched a cash management account for clients, solicitors, trusts and charities, and revamped its marketing material. Boxing star and managing director Richard Skerritt (pictured left) plans to roll with the punches over the next 18 months, in which he predicts market turbulence, but said his firm’s view is ‘things will get better’.
After collecting the award, he said: ‘Clients have this wonderful thing called hindsight and they judge us on that. But we will continue to do what we think is good for the client.’
The South West – Paradigm Norton
Bristol-based Paradigm Norton is a well-known name in the advice community. It increased its stature further last year when it merged with well-respected London firm The Red House Consulting.
This was also the ninth time the business picked up the award for the South West. Established almost 20 years ago, the firm has picked up a few famous faces among its clients over the years, such as Vanessa Branson, Tony Robinson and Nick Park.
Asked what the key to its achievements was, chief executive Barry Horner (pictured) said: ‘It’s a cliché, but it’s about personal service. We pride ourselves on having relatively few clients. We serve about 1,200 families and we give exceptional service to those.’
He said enough people in its target market are coming to the firm as a result of referrals from existing clients. ‘If you give high-net-worth clients amazing service – a breathtaking level of service – they refer others. That’s the way we’ve sought to build our practice.’
Wales – Magenta Financial Planning
Standing out from the crowd will get you noticed, and it has certainly worked in the favour of all-female firm Magenta Financial Planning, which took home the award for Wales for the first time.
Its strong client engagement, effective social media presence (including Twitter superstar Basil the Cat) and impressive financial planning service saw the Bridgend business rise to the top.
‘It’s about wanting to stand out and be different,’ said managing director Gretchen Betts (pictured left). ‘We want to be approachable, not corporate and stuffy.’
Magenta paraplanner Rebecca Tuck (pictured right) added the tone of the firm aims to be more ‘familiar’ and also looks to appeal to clients who may not have considered seeking financial advice before.