CompaniesMay 10 2013

RDR transition: Low-value clients can still be valuable

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ByMichael Trudeau

Toby Mansfield, owner of Thulston-based Clarity IFA, puts to shame advisers from bigger firms who say they cannot cope with post-Retail Distribution Review compliance demands or can no longer afford to serve lower-value clients.

Despite being a small IFA firm, Mr Mansfield says his business is growing while not only remaining independent but also keeping its full range of clients.

Independent or get out

Although he initially struggled in a rush to get the relevant qualifications, Mr Mansfield maintained his independence and joins the fray arguing that nothing short of independence is in the consumer’s best interest.

“I kept my independent status because I believe that’s what my clients want from me and that’s what clients will always want to consider when seeking financial advice.”

One argument for what some term “impartial whole of market” advice is that advisers shouldn’t be forced to advise on products which have no relevance to their clients. Mr Mansfield believes this is a false refuge.

“Are they not interested because they are told they aren’t interested or because they don’t understand all the products involved? Clients want honesty on whether or not a product could or should be suitable.

“If you look at a menu, there may be something that is gobbledygook. It may be something you wanted to eat.

“As an IFA it is paramount that a client is offered the opportunity for a full fact find where different types of products can be eliminated and the best products chosen and advised on.

“Anybody going independent is giving themselves more work to do but I’m afraid that’s what people expect in life. If you are having your car serviced you don’t want your service restricted, you want the full service, so you can ride away with the comfort of knowing that every part of your car has been looked at rather than restricted. That’s how clients want to be dealt with.”

Mr Mansfield knows what it is to be a tied agent, having previously worked for Lloyds TSB. He found the ties chafing and decided to leave so he could offer clients a more fully-rounded service.

“At Lloyds I was having clients ask me if I gave mortgage advice but I couldn’t. I took the mortgage qualification as an extra string to the bow and I also took the equity release qualification.”

Now, mortgage business makes up about a fifth of Mr Mansfield’s business.

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