Openwork AR: ‘Restricted’ choice no detriment to clients

Jody Sturman has been round the houses when it comes to working as a financial adviser, and having worked at both ends of the reputational scale from bank advice to running his own IFA firm, has concluded that being a restricted adviser is of no detriment to clients.

Mr Sturman comes from a banking advice background, having spent time at Santander before seeing the writing on the wall and getting out before the bank began laying off its advisers. He jumped before he was pushed, in other words.

From there he pursued the IFA route at Hampshire-based Deep Blue, but he found it so challenging going it alone that when Moneysprite director Ashley Brown approached him with a proposal he jumped at the chance to join Mr Brown’s firm.

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“From a personal point of view, I was working as an IFA and having to find all my business off my own back. To do it on your own without a support network is difficult.

“I went from where all your clients are handed to you on a plate to having literally nothing and having to get out one your own. It’s a very slow process.

“It was too time-consuming. You spend all your time running around chasing new clients rather than dealing with the ones you had.”

Joining an existing restricted firm is a refreshing change, he says, because it allows him to spend more time giving advice and dealing with his clients, and less time chasing potential additions to the book.

Going restricted

Having been an IFA, however, how does he find the process of giving, to use the regulator’s post-Retail Distribution Review terminology, ‘restricted’ advice at an AR of part Zurich-owned adviser network Openwork?

Questioned on whether he has to turn clients away or finds the limited range offers enough options, Mr Sturman remains adamant that what is offered is enough to serve the vast majority of clients.

“Initially I was really concerned going from being an IFA to multi-tied but they have got a good range of funds available.

“I didn’t use any more funds as an IFA than I do now. You get a set of funds you are comfortable with and tend to go with that unless your client has special needs.

“I have yet to meet a client I couldn’t help through Openwork.”

On the RDR changes more generally, Mr Sturman seems to think this is a positive step. He says he is working towards level six, which he believes will eventually be a minimum requirement.

However, he bemoans the banks pulling out of advice and the effect this has had on regular clients who no longer have in-branch advice sitting right there in front of them when they visit their banks.

It’s more than just an advice gap: Mr Sturman believes former bank clients are still going into the branch and just rolling over potentially inappropriate products.