Advice From The Client's Perspective

A series of case studies on the value of advice and how it has changed people's lives

Listen to interview highlights and exclusive commentary from Money Marketing's editor, Justin Cash.

Emma P went from mundane, depressing Edgeware, to the life of her dreams in Los Angeles in 18 months, moving to Hollywood to set up her own accountancy business with a little help from financial planning

Client: Emma P
Adviser: Steve Conley
, Managing Director at The Academy of Life Planning Ltd

My feeling on financial planners before I met one was that they can’t be trusted. That the fees are hidden and high. I read a lot around the subject at a time that I really needed help with my financials, and for me that wasn’t an accessible resource because I didn’t have liquid cash flow and didn’t trust the people that were able to give that advice.

Receiving advice was so powerful because I was living a pretty s**t life and it gave me hope that life could be amazing. The best part of the process is that I went from being unhappy, miserable, having all my money tied up in a property and having no prospects for being happy, to where I am at now, which is being really happy, living in LA, living my dream life.

We’re now planning to make my business better, to provide for my future to also incorporate the dreams of my future husband. None of this would have been possible before I met my financial planner.

What I would say to people is that they have to be very careful when they are choosing a financial planner, to look at whether someone is selling products, whether the fees are hidden. Mine charges a fixed fee, nothing is hidden, and its not product based so he can do that with integrity.

He looks at what your dreams are and how do we make your finances support that. If a financial planner isn’t looking at your dreams and what you want in life then he isn’t going to be able to advise you; they go hand in hand for me. The only purpose of organising your finances should be to support a life that is brilliant, and planning is responsible for that.

My closing message is to understand that there really aren’t many people in this world doing what my planner does. To understand that it is an ethical, trusted business, and it should be that financial planning is about how you can be happy and how you can have other types of wealth too, not just financial wealth.

After 37 years in banking, Andrena thought she had a handle on her finances. But what she learned about planning surprised her, allowing her to fulfil her ambition of early retirement with a newfound confidence in her direction

Client: Andrena
Adviser: Neil Law, Murphy Wealth

I was 37 years in banking. I retired December 2016 but in the last five or so years of my career there were so many changes to the pension rules. I’d always counted myself as someone who was fairly knowledgeable about my finances and fairly sensible over the years, but all of a sudden, you’re in a mud bath thinking what is the right thing for me? Like any situation in life, you don’t want to sit down with five different people and get five different answers.

I felt my adviser was genuinely the most interested, it was more about me as an individual. When I went into the offices the chap that owned the company was right over to introduce himself, we were introduced to the rest of the planners, to the admin team, it just felt like a company that was genuinely interested in me and really want my business. It wasn’t all about targets and fees.

I just felt they were the most genuine and most interested in me. Whilst they don’t have all the answers, and I always thought I was financially astute, its such a big bad world out there you really need the guidance of someone whose got that experience and knowledge of the market to make sure I was doing the right thing for me with my money.

I’d always planned to retire at 55 because that’s when my mortgage was going to be paid off. I could have kept working but it made me realise I wanted to do it when I’m fit and healthy, and I needed their guidance and support.

While it was expensive to do it – these chaps have now got to tell you upfront their fees – and initially I thought I’m not paying that, I could have a holiday in the Caribbean for that, when I took away my notes and listened to what they had to say and read what they prepared for me as an individual I thought this makes sense. They have the experience to guide me. I could live another 30 years, 40 years, 50 years, and I need to be guided properly here.

My options were presented in a really clear, simple, easy to understand manner. It wasn’t confusing. They didn’t at any point assume that just because I had 37 years’ financial experience under my belt I did know what they were saying. They made sure I double checked what I was doing and I did understand.

I thought I knew a lot about financial advice, but once I spoke to my adviser, I realised I knew the basics of general banking, but suddenly I was that customer that I had historically been used referring to financial advisers. When I sat and talked, I realised there was so much I don’t know, particularly from the point of view of making your money last, tax implications and how I am going to spend my money.

Don’t deprive yourself - you don’t want to retire on Monday and buy a Ferrari on Monday – but make sure there’s something left at the end. Plan for what’s still to come, where do you see your life going? What do the next 10 years look like? It was about making sure everything I wanted to do in the next 10 years I could do and set aside enough money for.

I think I look after my teeth, but I don’t know if I’ve got a hole in the back which I why I employ a dentist. I need to get my eyes checked regularly so that I can read my books, so I see an optician. Regardless of how well versed you think you are in your finances, someone on the outside looking in will always see something you don’t. Having that expertise, knowledge and guidance, you can’t account for that, because they will always look at your finances objectively, when you will always look at them emotionally.

With all these things going on in the background, all the regulation, all the taxation, I don’t think it matters how smart you think you are. You should invest in an expert. We don’t do that with the dentist, with the doctor. When you don’t feel well you see the doctor for a second opinion. Your finances are your life, that’s what you’ve worked all these years for, that’s why you’ve grafted, to have that money for your old age. When you’re there you want to know you are living the best pension years you can.

Having a one to one - you can’t put a price on that.

How the value of cashflow modelling convinced one client, CG, that she could set up a real lifestyle plan and turn her “side hustle” into her day job

Client: CG
Adviser: Julie Owen, Chase Wealth

I have had a Sipp for many years and have used an excellent financial adviser to manage and develop it. Two years ago, I met my adviser, who told me about [adviser coach] Paul Armson and gave me a copy of his book Enough.

In the period between, I have developed a business of my own on top of my corporate role.

Three months ago I asked my planner Julie, who is part of Paul Armson’s Inspiring Advisers group, to do a Truth lifestyle plan for my husband Peter and I, as we felt the time was coming to switch the balance between my side hustle and my day job.

Julie took time to understand our circumstances, supported us in gathering all the data and went through the model with us in a realistic and supportive way.

The data showed what we instinctively knew: that the time was right to make the shift, and so I leave my role in September 2019 to pursue my new career.

This review was a comprehensive exercise that gave us a full appreciation of today’s financial position and what the future could look like. It gave us more confidence to make such a big change and we wished we had used such a method sooner for mapping out our financial future.

I now recommend this method to friends and colleagues, and Julie Owen of Chase Wealth in the Isle of Man herself, who could not have been more helpful, obliging or professional in guiding us through the process – one that she believes strongly in and uses herself.

When Celia went through a divorce, financial planning helped her make sense of her future.

Client: Celia Edmondson
Adviser: Jacqui Moore, Radcliffe IFA

What led you to taking financial advice?

I got my adviser through a divorce, which meant I got half of my husband’s Sipp. It was suggested I should get a separate adviser, so I was recommended mine and she’s been absolutely brilliant and really helpful, especially when it was quite new to me.

Did anything surprise you about the process when you first started?

The Sipp – the nature of it and how you can use it – had been explained, but it was explained again and it always helps. Life goes on after you’ve had your meeting and you can forget some of the things, and its always reassuring to get up to date.

She was very patient from that point of view. In other respects what I appreciated was you need the help when you are going through fairly large life changes. It’s really useful to have that reassurance in something that’s critical. Something that very often if you of my type – not a particularly stats driven person – it is good to have someone who is so knowledgeable and up everything they need to know giving you that advice. Its been very reassuring and continues to be.

I was a teacher. I’m retired now and am an artist.

Sounds like there’s some lifestyle planning there. Do you ever talk about that with your adviser?

Yes, we do. She has an idea of what my interests are. That gives her an idea of where I would go, but she always gives me the options. She does advise on lifestyle in that she says don’t worry about this, or you could do this or the other, for you, you can go ahead.

But we have a very good personal relationship too. We share some common experiences and she’s really nice to be with. It’s a pleasant experience.

Did you expect that level of personal relationship from a financial services company?

No, not at all. To be quite honest, it happened with Jacqui because it was just me and her. I did appreciate having a female adviser. That made a difference to me.

Did you expect financial advice to be all pale, stale men?

To some extent you’re right. You would expect to get a very clipped and financially correct assessment that alienates you a bit because I’m not in that world and I did find that world quite intimidating. But I didn’t get that with Jacqui. Maybe because we bonded a bit more, and because it wasn’t quite as expected, but she probably has a female way of going about things that I appreciated.

What’s the single most valuable thing you’ve taken from advice so far?

Reassurance in all respects. I’m selling and buying a house at the moment – you really do need financial advice in relation to that – and she’s been brilliant with that follow up work that might strictly be outside financial advice.

It’s about trustworthy support. I absolutely trust exactly what she advises, and that’s important.

What would you tell someone deciding whether to take advice or not?

If you are in a position like me – I don’t read financial parts of the papers but you read about what’s going on in the world a bit and you bits of patchy information which makes you think you know a little about it – having a financial adviser there looking out for you, making the best series of options for you, its reassuring, especially when its quite a complex time and complex issue that’s quite critical to a lot of things that you do in your life. I would recommend it for the reliability of it; you are getting safe information.

Losing a spouse can be a traumatic time for anyone. It can also put a huge strain on one’s financial life. When Diane lost her husband, she needed to turn to her financial planner to get back on track.

Client: Diane Parker
Adviser: Julie Owen, Chase Wealth

In 2016 I became a widow, and when I became a widow, I suddenly became aware of my financial future and the fact that I didn’t have a lot of things in place to help me going forward, which I needed to address straight away.

I asked a friend of mine who he would recommend, and he recommended Julie Owen. I met her back then, we went through everything I had done in the past, which was to go to other investors with not much success, and looked through all the pensions and other things I had.

Even though I didn’t think they would come to much, she sorted them all out for me. Now I’ve got that security to know that what Julie’s put in place for me will help me in my old age or when I want to retire.

She was very kind, very approachable, she takes the stigma out of what you think a financial adviser is. She’s very authentic and I can honestly say what she does will be the best for you. She will work with you and your needs so I can only say I now go on and use her with my own clients. Go and speak to Julie, that’s all I say. I think she’s going to do extremely well going forward and I wish her every success in her future.

Having always taken a DIY approach to their finances, David and Angela were able to realise the value of expertise once they began to trust their financial adviser

Clients: David and Angela Bailey
Adviser: John Bines, Lighthouse Financial Advice

Prior to meeting our financial adviser we thought that we did not require the interference of an outsider into our personal circumstances, and so were reluctant to divulge many details to those who did visit to maintain the few life and endowment policies we had. There were pressure points in the year when finances were stretched, such as renewal of property insurance, car tax and insurance, but overall we managed.

Then we met John Bines. Through his ability to empathise, grasp the overall picture very quickly and to communicate possibilities, he soon gained our confidence and began to help re-organise our finances very effectively. He illustrated a command of the specific areas of the market which were restricting us and made suggestions clearly and confidently so that we could envisage the benefits to our future prospects.

Initially sceptical about the need for financial advice, we came to the realisation that John was intent on improving our prospects and he came to be an integral and crucial part of our plans. He has always given us excellent advice and we have come to trust his judgement, based on the results it has achieved. Both our children now consult John and value his expertise.

Without our financial adviser we would not be in the favourable position we currently find ourselves. It was an outsider with the ability to see the overall picture, together with a broad vision of the possibilities and a depth of knowledge in the relevant areas specific to our needs, and who had the communication skills to convey that to us, which has led to that position.

Given our past experience, we would recommend financial planning with the help of a financial adviser to anyone who has the wherewithal to do so.

Receiving an inheritance left Ken with a whole host of options that his financial planner helped him navigate

Client: Ken Tullett
Adviser: Radcliffe IFA

What did you think about financial advice before you started working with an adviser?

I thought that generally financial advisers were salespeople. I thought that what they were trying to do was to sell you some kind of insurance policy, and whether or not it was the right thing for you I didn’t really know. I thought they would sit back and charge the trial of commission they are after. My views on financial advisers have changed over the years, but initially in my early years, I don’t think I held them in very high regard.

Do you remember when it changed?

It changed about 20 years ago, when I received a lump sum redundancy/terminal payment, and I had to be very thoughtful of how I invested that.  That was when I first started working with a financial adviser seriously, but it depends on what you think a financial adviser is. Is it an insurance salesman? I mean, we have all came across them in the past. But a financial adviser was someone that I could relate to.

What have you found the most valuable about financial advice so far?

Firstly, I have found that they are looking at me in a rounded sense, that I am not just another sales opportunity, that my circumstances at the time and looking ahead are being considered properly. I want a financial adviser to be responsive. In other words, if I want to contact them with a query, I expect a proper response. I want to know that if I were to die, my wife’s interest would be continued to be looked after, depending on the change of her circumstances, obviously, and I want to believe that the company has the ability to look widely at the opportunities that are there in the financial world. 

What were you hoping to get from the process? Is there anything that has surprised you?

What I have just outlined is what I looked for. I believe with my current financial adviser I have received a highly satisfactory service. My expectations have been fulfilled. Anything I haven’t liked? No, not really. I can’t think of anything that has disappointed me. 

What misconceptions do you still think persist about financial planning and planners?

Well, the financial adviser I started with is not the financial adviser I have now. The financial adviser I started with disappointed me, and so I crossed him of my list and moved to a different financial adviser. The reason why I was disappointed was that I felt that there was no ongoing relationship, that I was sort of forgotten and put in a file somewhere. The promise of newsletters, the promise of annual reviews was not being kept, so they had to go, and I moved. Now I have moved to financial adviser where these criteria are being met.

What would you say to other clients thinking about whether they need advice?

It depends very much on people’s circumstances, doesn’t it? Are they employed? Are they remunerated? Do they have a pension set up? I think that if people like me come into an inheritance or some sort of terminal payment, if they need to think about mortgages or pensions, then I think the help of financial adviser would be very useful, because it is a confusing and difficult world. The financial adviser, of course, has to make you believe that he or she knows what they are talking about, and you have to believe that behind the person is a company at which expertise is available. So, providing you choose carefully, the services of a financial adviser are very worthwhile