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IFA: Going it alone has its highs and lows

Lancashire IFA Anne Pearson Financial Planning is about as fresh out of the oven as firms come, having become authorised at the beginning of this month.

However, Anne Pearson is no stranger to financial advice, having begun her career in banking before moving to Preston-based Elementum 10 years ago, and later founding Trafford and Houghton in the same city.

“At the company I just left, there are two directors and two self employed advisers. It’s just to come under their umbrella for compliance purposes. At TH there were three of us. Seven worked at Elementum and started TH.”

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Although she had worked with these people for almost a decade, Ms Pearson eventually began craving the control afforded by self-employment, not to mention significant cost savings.

“Normally how it works is it would be a percent of commission they would keep to cover your costs but when we set off with TH we decided to split the costs between us [four ways] and not as a percentage.

“I was thinking that costs are only going to go in one direction so I wouldn’t have any control really.

“I looked at employed positions but didn’t want to be employed [by a firm] again. I decided really the best way to go was to go on my own.”

With a turnover of about £100,000 per year, Ms Pearson says her FCA fees are not staggeringly high. However, being her own boss has another set of challenges.

The challenges of starting fresh

Ms Pearson does not regret striking out on her own. However, the journey has not been without its hills.

“It’s exciting and frustrating because you just want to get on with things but setting things up is frustrating.

“Dealing with providers isn’t easy. Some are quite quick [setting up agency] and others just don’t reply, and when you try and chase things up they say they will phone you back and don’t.

“I don’t think I would do it without some sort of compliance service. I use Bankhall compliance service.”

Compliance aside, the biggest challenge for Ms Pearson has been making sure she gets the starting conditions pitch-perfect from day one.

“I haven’t had to do any regulatory returns yet which is going to be a nightmare, but I’m making sure I have proper records in place right from the start which should make things easier.

“I knew that this time would be the worst because of getting all the procedures in place. When I’m doing all the suitability reports it’s taking me longer. It will get slicker and it will get quicker.

“As far as actually writing the business I don’t have any concerns because all my clients will be coming with me.”

Who do you serve?

With a client bank built almost entirely on referrals, Anne Pearson FP serves a mixture of young families, retired people, and a couple of small companies.