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RDR transition: Promoting the advice profession

Kettering-based IFA firm Anstee & Co Ltd is barely a year old, but it has already grown rapidly from being a one-woman-band to having five advisers - and the firm expects to have nine by the end of the year.

The firm was launched last July by Caroline Anstee, who has been an independent financial adviser for the last 15 years.

The firm was RDR-ready at launch; Ms Anstee says she has always been remunerated through fees and is an advocate of the transparency the new regime has brought about.

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“I wasn’t frightened of the RDR because I’ve always worked on a fee structure so it didn’t make any difference to the way that I work and therefore I didn’t see it as a bad thing or a challenge or anything like that.

“My view has always been that clients pay for advice and you should tell them how much it is, and if clients don’t want to pay they will go somewhere else. That’s the way it has always been.”

On the qualifications front she was less prepared and admits she did not become level four qualified “until the last minute”, blaming this on her busy schedule as she was a one-man band at the time.

She adds that in spite of seeing chartered status as desirable, she is unlikely to be able to find the time to study for this.

“I would love to go chartered but unfortunately I am too busy with clients – if my clients would give me a little bit of a break then I might do one day. I encourage it and I would love for people who work with me to be chartered.”

Expanding horizons

Of the five advisers employed by the firm, three specialise in investments and pensions, while two advise on mortgages. Future growth is concentrated in the latter business area: of the four that are set to join, three are specialist mortgage advisers.

She says the firm is expanding as a direct result of client demand - “we are snowed under” - and in particular as a result of strategic partnerships with a local estate agent to conduct mortgage and protection business, as well as employers and accountants over auto-enrolment advice.

“[Simpsons Estate Agents have] got eight offices and we will be doing between 40 to 50 mortgages a month. We were approached by them and decided to do it.

“We are working with employers and also accountancy practices and payroll. We are working with one particular accountancy practice where we are helping all their clients with auto-enrolment so that is a big project.”

She adds that she would like to bring in paraplanners to help lighten the load, believing that this could also be a way of delivering advice to lower-value consumers.