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Tartan titans: 20 more top advice firms from Scotland

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!

Name(s): Adrian and Brian Murphy

Firm: Murphy Wealth

Year: 2011

What you need to know:

Adrian Murphy works with his father, Brian Murphy, who set the firm up as Brian J Murphy Insurance & Financial Services (BJM) in 1977. The elder Murphy described his son's arrival at the firm in 2004 as 'a breath of fresh air.' Indeed, keen DJ Murphy (the younger) was energetic enough to stick around at the business, landing himself on the cover of our magazine (alone) in 2017.

Where are they now?

Murphy (jr.) still shares a 50/50 ownership stake in the business with his father, Brian who is chairman of the firm. 

Top quote:

'I am an old-fashioned IFA who has spent all my life seeing clients. I have built up a moderately successful business on the back of that. But Adrian wants to make it much bigger and he wants to orchestrate that with a team of advisers.'

Name(s): Adrian and Brian Murphy

Firm: Murphy Wealth

Year: 2011

What you need to know:

Adrian Murphy works with his father, Brian Murphy, who set the firm up as Brian J Murphy Insurance & Financial Services (BJM) in 1977. The elder Murphy described his son's arrival at the firm in 2004 as 'a breath of fresh air.' Indeed, keen DJ Murphy (the younger) was energetic enough to stick around at the business, landing himself on the cover of our magazine (alone) in 2017.

Where are they now?

Murphy (jr.) still shares a 50/50 ownership stake in the business with his father, Brian who is chairman of the firm. 

Top quote:

'I am an old-fashioned IFA who has spent all my life seeing clients. I have built up a moderately successful business on the back of that. But Adrian wants to make it much bigger and he wants to orchestrate that with a team of advisers.'

Name(s): Douglas McIntyre

Firm: Loch Fyne Financial

Year: 2012

What you need to know:

Douglas McIntyre was previously managing director of MacDonald Reid Scott, which appeared on our cover in 2008. At the time the then-new business had been awarded financial planning firm status by the then-Institute of Financial Planning  (IFP) even though it had only been running for a year. The business has a 5/5 rating on VouchedFor.

Where are they now?

McIntyre remains at the firm. 

Top quote:

'The pay-it-forward concept really works for me; in other industries, you don’t hear about it. But with IFP members, that is almost the norm. You reap as you sow, and it’s really nice to be able to share.'

Name(s): Lesley and Scott Mackintosh

Firm: Edinburgh Investment Company

Year: 2013

What you need to know:

Lesley Mackintosh, founder of Edinburgh Investment Consultants and Independent Women, set up the former in 1993 and soon realised there was a potentially large gap in the market for advice for women, so started Independent Women in 1997.

Where are they now?

Edinburgh Investment Company is now part of Succession Group, but Lesley Mackintosh remains managing director of Independent Women.

Top quote:

'It was controversial [when it launched]. Many people think being gender specific is a good idea, as it allows women to have a conversation with [someone who understands their situation]. The other side wonder why you would cut yourself off from 50% of the population. But I am happy with it and to this day think it is a strong brand that gives women an empathetic view.'

Name(s): Graeme Inglis

Firm: Create & Prosper 

Year: 2013

What you need to know:

According to Inglis, previous roles in sales-orientated banks exasperated him. So in 2010, he seized the opportunity to set up C&P, based on the principles of the approaching retail distribution review (RDR) and his own market research.

Where are they now?

Top quote:

'I have worked with banks and national advisers,' he says. 'I got frustrated with the target mentality and having too many clients to look after. I have always wanted to run my own business, so I thought, with the RDR coming, it was time. A fee basis and getting the firm chartered were important from day one.'

Name(s): Chris Donald

Firm: Innovate Financial Services

Year: 2014

What you need to know:

According to Donald, Innovate Financial Services is built on fun. ‘We built Innovate by having fun with our clients and professional connections,' he told us in 2014. 'The core of our business is networking with both. If we do that, we will get business.'

Where are they now?

Chris Donald remains managing director at the firm.

Top quote:

'We are building the business on service, clarity and accountability so clients can measure our performance. They then have an expectation that we have to live up to, and it is all documented.'

Name(s): Graham McKnight

Firm: McKnight Financial

Year: 2014

What you need to know:

McKnight set up his business in 2009 following a 20-year career at Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS). McKnight told us that despite its many shortcomings, RBS gave him a solid foundation in providing a quality service to high-net-worth individuals. He had been advising businesses and their owners for RBS Independent Financial Services, but in 2009 all the signs were saying 'go solo.'

Where are they now?

McKnight remains managing director at the firm.

Top quote:

(On fees) 'Because the trust has been built, the communication is transparent [and] the relationship is strong. When we invoice the client, they understand what we have done for [the money]. Plus we are always on the front foot: sometimes I arbitrarily phone clients just to ask them how things are going.'

Name(s): Ken Welsh

Firm: VWM Group

Year: 2014

What you need to know:

Having previously worked at HSBC Actuaries and Consultants, where he dealt with 'board room director types,' Welsh set up Anderson Welsh in 2002, targeting high-net-worth individuals. He initially found clients by cold calling architects, as his office in Glasgow was in an area where many were based.

In 2004, he merged with Ian Vance and Fergus Muirhead to create VWM. The idea was to gain strength in numbers and facilitate growth, but he later split from both; Vance in 2005 and Muirhead in 2010.

It took eight years to build a core of 50 clients, who are typically aged 55 and over and initially preparing for an important life event, such as selling a business or retiring from a profession.

Where are they now?

Welsh remains managing director at the firm.

Top quote:

'I just celebrated my 50th birthday in Antigua and I will still be involved in 10 years’ time. What is important in life? How lucky am I to have my wife Alison, two children and two stepchildren? I like to spend time with them on holiday and walking.'

 

Name(s): Jonathan Gibson

Firm: AAB Wealth

Year: 2014

What you need to know:

AAB Wealth is the financial advice arm of Aberdeen accountancy firm Anderson Anderson & Brown (AAB). In 2009 he featured as co-director of Dundee-based Verus Chartered Financial Planners (now Verus Wealth), alongside Paul Lothian. 

A year later he was given responsibility for a joint venture with accountancy AAB, and that business has now been spun off into a separate entity with Gibson at the helm. AAB Wealth was initially an appointed representative of Verus, then became directly authorised in April 2014.

Where are they now?

Since appearing for the second time on our cover, Gibson has launched a different advice firm, Wells Gibson, of which he is managing director.

Top quote:

'Wealth management is not just about gathering people’s investable assets. Relationship management is us being the family finance director. We work as a hub and bring in experts where needed.'

Name(s): Iain Duckworth

Firm: Duckworth Alexander

Year: 2014

What you need to know:

Duckworth started his financial services career at Abbey National in 1978. A team player, he went on to co-found two advice firms. Then in 2009 he decided to go it alone in his third ownership venture, following the retirement of a partner at a previous firm. Duckworth Alexander was founded in 2009 and has since gone from strength to strength. 

Where are they now?

Acumen Financial Planning (featured earlier in this article) acquired Duckworth Alexander in 2016. Duckworth joined the management team at Acumen as a result.

Top quote:

'Now I have been doing it myself for five years, I don’t know why it took me so long. I always thought I needed someone to spark ideas off, almost as a comfort. But there are lots of people you can do that with [without being in business with them].'

Name(s): Graeme Mitchell

Firm: Lowland Financial

Year: 2015

What you need to know:

Lowland Financial started in 2001, when Mitchell bought it out of Lowland Insurance, for which he was working at the time. The first three years were particularly hard work, he told us, because he had to create enough income to pay the owners back over that time.

Where are they now?

In September last year it was announced that advice consolidator Loyal North (which is backed by Fusion Asset Management) had bought Lowland Financial on a five-year buy-out deal.

Loyal North will take over from Mitchell as he prepares for retirement in the next four to five years.

Top quote:

'Being tied or restricted doesn’t matter; only the job you do. I am whole of market for everything except the areas I don’t necessarily understand: investment trusts, unregulated collective investment schemes, structured products. That is why I went restricted.'

Name(s): Sheridan Barlow

Firm: First 4 Financial Planning

Year: 2015

What you need to know:

Tango dancer Barlow has built her business on serving niche client segments. Since 2005 she has pursued employees of Aberdeen-based oil companies, and academics via a link with Aberdeen University. When we profiled her three years ago, the two niches accounted for 80% of her clients. All her work at that time came through referrals. 

Where are they now?

Sheridan Barlow remains managing director and chartered financial planner at the firm.

Top quote:

'I want to keep going as long as I can, but you have to think about the other things that can happen in life: illness or death, not just of you but potentially of someone close to you.'

 

Name(s): Rob Broad

Firm: Broad Wealth 

Year: 2015

What you need to know:

Broad Wealth’s first five-year plan was to grow income at 20% by adding roughly £3 million under advice a year.

It achieved this, though Broad told us in 2015 that it will slow to around 10% growth over the next five years. This was because he is cautious about taking on new staff, having heard scare stories from other advisers in the region.

Where are they now?

Rob Broad remains managing director at the firm. 

Top quote:

'I don’t see how [an adviser] could charge £10,000 a year to a £1 million client. It makes me laugh, especially when they are using a passive investment approach. How are they earning that?'

 

 

Name(s): Michael and Ken Ferguson

Firm: Ferguson Oliver

Year: 2015

What you need to know:

Ferguson set up Brechin-based Ferguson Oliver Wealth Management more than 28 years ago. In 2012 he de-authorised as an adviser to steer the firm through the retail distribution review (RDR) and the collapse of its network’s parent Honister Capital. The move has paid dividends as Ferguson Oliver is now directly authorised, has boosted recurring income and has grown its assets and profits since 2012.

Where are they now?

Both Mike and Ken Ferguson remain at the business, as managing director and director/senior IFA, respectively.

Top quote:

'At times I miss advising. Many clients are still friends. But I am more comfortable with that now because we have decided to develop the company, so I have a clear role.' (Mike Ferguson)

 

Name(s): Craig Hendry

Firm: Johnston Carmichael

Year: 2015

What you need to know:

Johnston Carmichael's website claims the business has 'over 14000 clients, 80 years of insight and 650 experts across 11 offices.'

Where are they now?

Craig Hendry remains managing director and chartered financial planner at Johnston Carmichael. 

Top quote:

'In future, I don’t think clients will want us to send them paper valuations. They can go online any day of the week. That will save a lot of time once we get people using it.'

Name(s): Ken Simpson

Firm: Independent Benefits Consultancy (IBC)

Year: 2016

What you need to know:

When we profiled Simpson on the cover of our magazine in 2016, IBC had amassed over £100 million of assets under advice in the seven years it has been trading, which Simpson credited to a number of key factors. Landing high-quality corporate clients in the early weeks of the business provided the foundations for the success, he says, and the next step was to build his team.

Where are they now?

Ken Simpson remains managing director and pension transfer specialist at the firm. 

Top quote:

'I like silliness, and I like positivity.'

 

Name(s): Richard Fletcher

Firm: McHardy Financial

Year: 2016

What you need to know:

Before becoming the first adviser at McHardy Financial, Fletcher worked in various advisory roles at Barclays Wealth, Albannach, St James’s Place and Scottish Widows.

Where are they now?

Richard Fletcher remains managing director and chartered financial planner at McHardy Financial. 

Top quote:

'We want to look at robo-advice. And we want to improve our presence on the internet, and in the media and communities. Having invested in the website already, and upgraded it twice in the last few years, we get traffic from that.'

Name(s): Duncan Glassey (again!)

Firm: Wealthflow

Year: 2017

What you need to know: 

One of Duncan Glassey's unique selling points is that he advises clients who have unexpectedly come into money - either as a result of accident, injury or lottery luck. He is also a chess expert, as our coverstar image above testifies.

Having previously worked at Acumen Financial Planning, Glassey left on favourable terms to go his own way. His former colleagues described him in our magazine as a 'free spirit.'

His appearance as a coverstar marked the second occasion that Wealthflow had been featured on the cover of our magazine.

Where are they now?

Glassey remains at the firm.

Top quote:

'In 2015, I wrote another book, How to Be Happy and Rich, with our consultant coach Moa Diseborn. With our investment coach Tim Hale this year, I also wrote an illustrated book about our investment philosophy. Now I’m starting a new book about life transitions for families with specialist care needs. Good quality material like this to give our professional connections and clients can be worth its weight in gold.'

Name(s): Adrian Murphy

Firm: Murphy Wealth

Year: 2017

What you need to know:

Murphy has made several changes to Murphy Wealth since first appearing on the cover of our magazine in 2011. 

He has brought in a business coach to accelerate growth, he has introduced an adviser academy system to train up staff, and he lists marketing and PR firms among his most important professional connections.

The Murphy Wealth office is now decorated with dashes of unmistakable green and pink, rather than the usual 'wealth manager blue' that had previously adorned the walls.

Where are they now?

Adrian Murphy remains at managing director of Murphy Wealth.

Top quote:

'Switching to [outsourced investment firm] Tatton was probably the best investment decision we’ve ever made.'

Name(s): David Gow and Keith Mackie

Firm: Acumen Financial Planning

Year: 2017

What you need to know:

David Gow and Keith Mackie took on the baton at Acumen Financial Planning from Sandy Robertson and Bill Saunders, who appear earlier in this gallery of Scottish cover stars. Gow and Mackie appeared on our cover last year, and went on to win the regional award for Scotland at our annual conference and awards in January for a second time.

Where are they now?

Gow and Mackie remain directors at Acumen Financial Planning. 

Top quote:

(David Gow) '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.'

Name(s): Ailsa Brown

Firm: Gilliland Neilson Brown

Year: 2017

What you need to know:

It was 10 years before Ailsa Brown's firm became GNB, following a successful merger with Gilliland & Co Financial Services. This bold step pushed business to new heights, enabling it to attract clients bearing higher net worth and more complex financial needs. 'That was the biggest springboard,' Brown told us. 'Prior to that it was just me, and there’s a limit to what you can do by yourself in a little office.'

Where are they now?

Ailsa Brown remains managing director at the firm. 

Top quote:

'A hugely overlooked element of what we do is making sure people have protection in place. The whole plan can go to pot if the breadwinner dies or has serious ill health.'

Name(s): Shane Gorman and Stuart Cardoza

Firm: SWC Independent 

Year: 2018

What you need to know:

Shane Gorman’s father was killed in the Piper Alpha oil rig disaster 30 years ago. Having started his career as an IFA, Gorman switched to working in safety roles on offshore rigs, gaining a strong reputation in that world. He still works on promoting offshore safety in his spare time.

Where are they now?

Both men are still in role at the firm. 

Top quote:

(Shane Gorman) 'I had a pivotal role between offshore workers and the boardroom to learn from the mistakes and spread good practice.'

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