Scottish stars: 20 firms we profiled north of the border

As we approach the 600th issue of New Model Adviser® magazine, we look back at all the IFAs who have been on our cover over the years, and we are kicking off in Scotland! (Part one).

Name(s): Raymond Ellis and Andy Cumming

Firm: Scott-Moncrieff Life & Pensions

Year: 2006

What you need to know:

Cumming’s mother and father were the steward and stewardess of a golf club and he was brought up in a small village in Lanarkshire ‘so there was not really much else to do other than golf', he told us.

Where are they now?

Close Brother Asset Management acquired the firm in 2011. Raymond Ellis announced his retirement in March 2012.

Top quote:

Cumming cites how in October 2003 the percentage for 'new business checklist completed' started off very high 'and then people started to get a wee bit relaxed. So we kicked their backsides and it went up and then it continues to go up until we need to kick their backsides again.'

Name(s): Raymond Ellis and Andy Cumming

Firm: Scott-Moncrieff Life & Pensions

Year: 2006

What you need to know:

Cumming’s mother and father were the steward and stewardess of a golf club and he was brought up in a small village in Lanarkshire ‘so there was not really much else to do other than golf', he told us.

Where are they now?

Close Brother Asset Management acquired the firm in 2011. Raymond Ellis announced his retirement in March 2012.

Top quote:

Cumming cites how in October 2003 the percentage for 'new business checklist completed' started off very high 'and then people started to get a wee bit relaxed. So we kicked their backsides and it went up and then it continues to go up until we need to kick their backsides again.'

Name(s): Carl Melvin 

Firm: Affluent Financial Planning

Year: 2006

What you need to know:

Melvin started his career having been 'mis-led' into becoming a call centre cold caller in Jakarta, India. He has ended up the managing director of an award winning financial planning firm. 

Where are they now?

Melvin is still managing director of Affluent Financial Planning. 

Top quote:

'I'm quite opinionated, I have quite strong views on things but that comes from passion, from being engaged in my business. The problem when you work in a large organisation like a bank is that it’s very difficult to express your views because they are deemed as negative and not constructive. I can’t bite my lip when it comes to playing corporate politics.'

Name(s): John Mackay 

Firm: Mackay Stewart & Brown (MSB)

Year: 2007

What you need to know:

In a former life John Mackay was appointed secretary of the superannuation committee of the British Medical Association in Edinburgh.

Where are they now?

MSB was sold to Close Brothers Asset Management in 2015. John Mackay is now retired.

Top quote:

'I was prowling around in my flat [after an operation] and came across a book The E Myth by Michael Gerber and I read it and then again, making notes. Near the end there is a scheme you go through and answer questions so a plan is evolved. One of the things I realised was I was not running this business for my own benefit, which I found shocking! So I had a big rethink, and then I found clarity and the mess faded away.'

 

Name(s): Alan Steel and Steven Forbes

Firm: Alan Steel Asset Management 

Year: 2007

What you need to know:

Alan Steel was an actuarial student in 1969 with Scottish Widows. He established the eponymous firm in 1975. Its website claims to advise over 3100 clients with over £1 billion funds under management.

Steel once advised the Treasury Select Committee on split-capital trusts and the Equitable Life saga.

Where are they now?

Alan Steel is still chairman of the company. Steve Forbes remains managing director.

Top quote:

'We run the business on the basis that 80% of our income is coming from 20% of our clients so we keep that 20% happiest.'

Name(s): Jeremy Brett

Firm: Brett Investment

Year: 2007

What you need to know:

Brett established Brett Investment in 2000 and moved to a fee-based model in 2004. In 2008 and 2011 Brett Investment was short-listed for the New Model Adviser Scotland and Northern Ireland regional award. 

Where are they now?

Jeremy Brett remains at the head of his business.  

Top quote:

'I don’t think I’m particularly an entrepreneurial type person but I was able to see that running your own business is not that scary. As soon as I started it felt completely natural.'

Name(s): Alan Dick

Firm: Forty Two FP

Year: 2008

What you need to know:

Alan Dick's business is based on the idea of having only 42 clients. 

Besides being a financial planner, he is also an absolutely epic musician, as the above video testifies. Cut to 01:04 to see where it really gets interesting. 

Where are they now?

Alan is still at the head of his firm.

Top quote:

'That’s all we want, 42 of the right clients. It’s a question of looking after them year in, year out.'

Name(s): Douglas McIntyre and Ian Scott

Firm: MacDonald Reid Scott

Year: 2008

What you need to know:

Douglas McIntyre had to implement the company’s crisis plan at the turn of the millennium in a previous office which was struck by a huge flood. Vandals had broken into offices upstairs, turned on taps in the toilets and left the plug in.

So with water gushing all over the Christmas period, the police phoned McIntyre about four o’clock in the morning on New Year’s Day to say the alarm was going off. McIntyre was the key holder and he asked through a drunken haze if there had there been entry. The police said there were no signs and it might be a fault.

Where are they now?

MacDonald Reid Scott was bought by Towergate in 2008.

Top quote:

'We want to be regarded as belonging to an elite group of wealth managers who deliver a brilliant and profitable financial planning service to corporate and private clients at the top end of the market – and to do this while enjoying our work.'

Name(s): Brian Steeples

Firm: Turris Partnership

Year: 2008

What you need to know:

Brian Steeples has actually appeared in the pages of New Model Adviser® twice: once in 2005 when our magazine went to press monthly, and again three years later, by which timewe had become a weekly.

In November 2009, Steeples was the first adviser in the UK to win a 'UK Chartered Financial Planner of the Year' award.

Where are they now?

Steeples remains managing director of Turris Partnership.

Top quote: (on getting clients from London) 'That’s where most of the wealthy people are. You don’t have to live there to provide an excellent service to them.'

Name(s): Bob Hair and Alex Montgomery

Firm: Alex Montgomery Turcan Connell

Year: 2008

What you need to know:

Hair and Montgomery were profiled on the cover of our magazine in June 2008. Both men extolled the virtues of running a multi-disciplinary business incorporating financial advice, tax compliance and legal work. 

Where are they now?

Bob Hair is now director of Wealth Planning at Cazenove Capital. Alex Montgomery is the founder and joint CEO of Tcam Asset Management. 

Top quote:

'Some of the best financial planners in the business are the top private client lawyers. I’m bringing the expertise in the area and it is the top partners of the private client side who are really doing the financial planning piece. They might not follow the process that my guys might follow but they will be pulling all the threads of advice together. It’s a marvel to behold.' (Bob Hair)

Name(s): Bill Smith

Firm: Scotia Independent

Year: 2008

What you need to know:

Bill Smith acquired Scotia Independent after being approached by former owner and long-time friend Jo Cook, who wanted to retire was looking for someone to take on her clients. He initially became a partner but then obtained a 50% stake in the business.

Where are they now?

Smith he broke away from Scotia Independent Financial Services, based in Glasgow, to set up his new, similarly named, business Scotia Wealth Management in Edinburgh.

Top quote:

'I always felt I was giving my clients a service. I charged what I felt was an appropriate level for what I was doing.'

 

Name(s): Sandy Robertson and Bill Saunders

Firm: Acumen Financial Planning 

Year: 2008

What you need to know:

Acumen Financial Planning has provided financial planning services since 2002, and appeared as a cover star firm in our magazine in 2005, 2008 and 2017. The business has gone from strength to strength, winning the New Model Adviser® regional award for Scotland in January this year for the second time in a row. The business bought Scottish IFA firm Duckworth Alexander in 2016.

Where are they now?

Sandy Robertson is now managing director of Acumen Financial Planning's parent company The Financial Planning Company. Bill Saunders remains a certified financial planner at the business. However, the leadership baton has been handed over to David Gow and Keith Mackie, who appeared on our cover in 2017.

Top quote:

'What we need to do is get our business processes running like clockwork. We have to look at ourselves and make our proposition clearer for staff.' (Robertson)

Name(s): Derek Stewart 

Firm: Strategic Asset Managers

Year: 2009

What you need to know:

Accomplished Karate kicker Derek Stewart appeared on our cover in 2009, having set up Strategic Asset Managers in 2001. Stewart launched the company with the intention that it would become 'the IFA of the future.' The business boasts exceptional customer feedback data, with 100% of clients saying the business is either 'extremely' or 'very' helpful. 

Where are they now?

Stewart remains chief executive and managing partner of the business.

Top quote:

'We pay £375 to staff for every exam they pass, we coach them, give them time, and we pay for their exams and we pay for one resit.'

 

Name(s): Paul Lothian and Jonathan Gibson

Firm: Verus Wealth

Year: 2009

What you need to know:

When Gibson left school he joined the Royal Bank of Scotland, before moving to Britannic Assurance where his father worked, which was his introduction to financial advice. 

Lothian’s parents had a composite insurance brokerage with offices in Dundee, Aberdeen, Glasgow and Shetland. The general side of the business was sold in 1988 and the life and pensions arm continued in Dundee with a composite business remaining in Shetland, where Lothian was to work for the next nine years during his twenties. The two met through the then-Institute of Financial Planning and Lothian invited Gibson to work with him.

Where are they now?

Paul Lothian remains at the business as director. Gibson later moved to establish AAB Wealth (with Lothian on board) but then went solo to set up his own business, Wells Gibson. 

Top quote:

'It would be great to be in the position of a dentist who knows when he sets up in business there will be a queue of patients at the door. That doesn’t happen in our game. We’ve got to go looking for the business and we’re not there yet.' (Gibson)

 

Name(s): Jack McVitie 

Firm: LEBC Group

Year: 2009

What you need to know:

McVitie founded LEBC in 2000 after his previous employer Hogg Robinson was sold to Towry Law. As LEBC group’s chief executive McVitie is based in Edinburgh but the business's offices cover Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, London, Southampton, Hull, Leicester, Cambridge, Chertsey and Crawley.

Where are they now?

McVitie remains at the head of his business.

Top quote:

'Fortunately a lot of our clients decided to continue with us and we traded very successfully making a profit in our first year having initially raised half a million pounds of capital.'

 

Name(s): Maria Nemeth, Duncan Glassey and John Kenny-Levick

Firm: Wealthflow

Year: 2010

What you need to know:

Glassey previously worked at Acumen Financial Planning until his departure on amicable terms. He became a certified financial planner in 2003, finding that traditional approaches to financial advice 'do not work for many of us,' so he trained as a mediator and re-established his religious faith. Now his career goal is to help develop financial life coaching in the UK.

Where are they now?

Glassey remains the founding partner of Wealthflow, and appeared on the cover of our magazine again last year. Maria Nemeth remains a life coach and psychological specialist. John Kenny-Levick also remains a life coach.

Top quote:

'Before we worked with our clients’ assets; today we work with their hearts.' (Duncan Glassey)

Name(s): Richard Macmillan

Firm: Forbes Lawson

Year: 2010

What you need to know:

Despite being independent and an adviser, Richard Macmillan insisted on removing all references to the abbreviation 'IFA' from his company's marketing and branding activities. Instead, he hands out business cards with the words 'lifestyle financial planner' on. Macmillan is also a crack shot, having become a fullbore rifle champion in 2000. 

Where are they now?

Macmillan remains director and senior adviser at the firm.

Top quote:

'Financial planning is not regulated, because it is not selling. So you can do it anywhere.'

Name(s): John Moore

Firm: Nucleus IFA

Year: 2011

What you need to know:

A graduate in Actuarial Mathematics and Statistics, Moore moved into the IFA world to specialise in investment models, asset allocation and portfolio analysis -n with a special interest in the embryonic UK platform industry as an efficient method of managing client portfolios. He was centrally involved in the founding of popular wrap platform Nucleus, holding several positions, including Chairman of Nucleus IFA Company, Non-Executive Director of Nucleus Financial Group and Chairman of the IFA Advisory board from inception until 2013.

Where are they now?

Moore is now director at Dalriada Capital. 

Top quote:

'In terms of an IFA being able to call themselves independent, you have to prove you’re using a particular platform, product or funds for the right reasons and ensure you have the clients’ interests at heart.'

 

Name(s): Alistair Creevy

Firm: Independent Advisers (Scotland)

Year: 2011

What you need to know:

Creevy spent 22 years working for life companies before becoming an IFA. After moving up the ranks at Clerical Medical, Standard Life and Pearl, he took the chance of going independent in 2000 when he was recruited as practice director of the Glasgow branch of Inter-Alliance. That role included managing several advisers and advising his own clients.

Inter-Alliance ran into difficulties four years later, so Creevy persuaded the firm to let him take over the lease of the Glasgow office in 2004 and he launched Independent Advisers (Scotland).

Where are they now?

Alistair Creevy remains managing director of Independent Advisers (Scotland).

Top quote:

‘I was [self-employed] myself and have good friends who still are. But there is no way a good business can have self-employed advisers [after the RDR] They are not part of the company structure or the ethos. They are a compliance risk.'

Name(s): Michael Fairweather

Firm: Real Life Planning 

Year: 2011

What you need to know:

Michael Fairweather spent his formative years at the Edinburgh Academy before progressing to the University of St Andrews. As a graduate he moved all the way to London and worked for a firm of chartered accountants and then a private bank, before setting up his own firm. 

Where are they now?

Fairweather's LinkedIn profile states that he remains a financial planner at the firm. 

Top quote:

'[Real Life Financial Planning] is just me at the moment but I plan to grow and employ some more staff. I have a 25-year view.'

Name(s): Andrew Hannay, Alastair Robson and Jeff Lewis

Firm: Robson Macintosh

Year: 2011

What you need to know:

Robson’s first job in 1977 was at a firm of stockbrokers called Wise Speke in Newcastle. While working there he read a book called How I made $2 million on the stock market by Nicolas Darvas, which motivated him to pursue a career in financial services.

Where are they now?

Alastair Robson is now Wealth Management Partner at True Potential Wealth Management. Hannay and Lewis remain at the firm as directors.

Top quote:

'A lot of people want our advice service. But there are also a lot of people who want to do it themselves; that number is growing rapidly.'

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