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My only big decision at the moment would be whether to go independent or restricted

Phil Shaw of Northumberland-based PCM Asset Management talks to Kevin White about setting up his own firm at the height of the financial crisis, and how an increase in FSCS levies is affecting the IFA industry.

By Kevin White | Published May 23, 2012 | comments

Phil Shaw, the principal of PCM Asset Management, made the decision to establish his own firm during some of the UK financial services industry’s most turbulent times.

Mr Shaw had gained extensive experience during a career spanning a quarter of a century when he was made redundant by Northumberland-based chartered accountants Tait Walker in December 2008.

The father of one chose to set up his own advisory firm soon after and, despite the daunting task that faced him, saw it thrive. The sole trader is currently in the process of becoming a limited company, and is looking to the future after embracing the retail distribution review proposals.

A native of the northeast, Mr Shaw studied for a catering management higher national diploma before working for a year as a catering contractor for an American oil company in the Libyan Sahara desert. After returning home to the UK in 1986, he joined the direct sales force with Legal & General, before moving on to Lloyds Bank Group in 1988 as a financial consultant. A new role as a direct adviser for Standard Life in 1995 increased his experience of investment and pension products, before moving to Harland & Co in County Durham as an IFA manager in 1998, and on to Tait Walker in 2002 as a senior manager IFA.

Mr Shaw said: “The shock of redundancy in such a testing time for the financial services industry put a bit of fire in my belly – and in my wife’s – and, on reflection, I wish it had happened to me 10 years earlier. Setting up my own firm was pretty scary, especially during that time, but it has been very rewarding. The danger was inertia and doing nothing, so I just got on with it and the business has done very well ever since.

“I’m just going through the process of incorporating it at the moment as I’m still a sole trader, and I hope that this will protect to a degree against the uncertainty the Financial Services Compensation Scheme levies bring.

“This to me is the main challenge for IFAs in the coming months. I’ve heard that many are anti the RDR proposals and the work they have had to undergo to comply with the new regulations, but for me there is no challenge or issue. I got my statement of professional standing in March, and I had achieved most of the qualifications anyway. I just needed to do some gap-fill.

“The industry has changed a lot since I first started out, and it will continue to change. It’s just one of those things. For me though the more pressing issue is the FSCS levies on IFA firms and the effect it will have on smaller companies. If you believe what’s written in the press and on the blogs, a lot of firms will be put out of business by them and quite a few larger ones are also considering their future.

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