Transfers from Aviva's pension scheme make waves in Norwich

With a huge base in the city, one of the largest general insurers in the UK, Aviva has given rise to many IFA firms in the Norwich area

Canary city

Norwich is known for its Canaries. The city’s football team, Norwich City, has a yellow canary on its badge in recognition of the city’s historical association with breeding the birds.

Canary yellow is also the hallmark of local insurance giant Aviva, which became the team’s main sponsor in 2008. Many will recall Norwich Union was Aviva’s trading name until 2009.

With a huge base in the city, one of the largest general insurers in the UK, Aviva has given rise to many IFA firms in the Norwich area. Many of these firms were created by individuals who set up their own businesses after leaving the provider.

Canary city

Norwich is known for its Canaries. The city’s football team, Norwich City, has a yellow canary on its badge in recognition of the city’s historical association with breeding the birds.

Canary yellow is also the hallmark of local insurance giant Aviva, which became the team’s main sponsor in 2008. Many will recall Norwich Union was Aviva’s trading name until 2009.

With a huge base in the city, one of the largest general insurers in the UK, Aviva has given rise to many IFA firms in the Norwich area. Many of these firms were created by individuals who set up their own businesses after leaving the provider.

Community spirit

Meeting me off the train was Alan Boswell Financial Planners’ managing director, John Whitehead (pictured). The first thing Whitehead tells me about Norwich is there is a great sense of community. Many of the firm’s clients come from professional connections and referrals.

This is echoed by John Doney, managing director at Capital Tower, who used to work with Aviva and left with a well-developed web of professional connections.

Doney explains how the region has an abundance of wealthy individuals living in areas such as Southwold, Brancaster and Burnham Market, which has been dubbed ‘Chelsea-on-Sea’. A large proportion of his clients come from the farming sector, as is also the case at Alan Boswell Financial Planners.

DB transfers

However, Stephen Girling (pictured), managing director at SG Wealth Management, paints a different picture. Although he does not see any particular trend in clients from the agricultural sector, he has seen a change in the appetite for pension transfer advice in the area.

‘A lot of Aviva employees have built up good final salary schemes or work benefits having worked with Aviva for more than 20 years,’ he tells me. ‘I think every firm doing pension transfer advice that operates locally in Norwich has seen an upturn in that type of business.’

Girling adds Aviva is keen to ‘see this liability off its books’. He believes transfer value multiples have been significantly higher as a result. ‘It has allowed a whole generation of Aviva employees to retire at 55 with a sizeable pot,’ Girling says.

Aviva has played a heavy role in the way IFA firms have been set up, and how they operate and source their clients. It has helped create a strong community in Norwich, with many advisers telling me they know other firms in the area fairly well.

Sunny side

With all looking a sunny hue, I ask Girling if there are any downsides to the area. He tells me ‘people always refer to Norwich as being the graveyard of ambition’, but he does not necessarily see this as a bad thing.

No two Norwich advisers are the same, all seemingly taking life at different paces. And although it may not have the big city buzz, it reaps the benefits of the market-town feel. ‘You might not get the high salaries of London, but you do still get time to actually enjoy the social, family side,’ Girling explains.

Doney adds: ‘I can be at the beach in 30 minutes’

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