Firing Line: John Spiers

He said: “We don’t have to write a business plan to show return on capital is more than 20 per cent to get it past the board. We can show something that’s going to improve the services to clients. If it turns out it was a good financial investment for us, that’s great.”

EQ Wealth will be the face-to-face financial planning part of the business, while EQ Direct, which launches next year, will offer a lower-cost service for people with less to invest.

Mr Spiers said: “What we don’t have is, where you’ve got someone who wants to put £1,000 a month into an Isa and can’t justify face-to-face advice, we don’t have a service for them - there’s a gap. Some customers are happy to use the phone or online.

“EQ Direct will definitely make it pay for itself.”

While the company is being promoted as an ethical business, there are still challenges for those who have even less money to invest or who are financially naïve.

Mr Spiers is concerned about what will happen to those coming up to retirement next year, faced for the first time with a decision over their pension.

He said: “I think a 30-minute consultation is definitely not enough. These are complex decisions. To think that will be enough for most people to have a clear idea of what they should be doing is fanciful.

“We have to make sure people are as well-informed as possible about all the options. That would be good if it was provided by a government agency. But when you look at the history of these things, they produce gobbledegook that’s almost impenetrable to everybody.”

Mr Spiers has been in the industry for 41 years, and despite the trauma of his departure from the company he founded, he still enjoys the business.

He said: “I love the wealth management industry; I’ve been a professional investor all my life. I love the different ways you can interact with your clients and provide good services to them.

“It’s good to be back in charge.”

Melanie Tringham is features editor of Financial Adviser

John Spiers’ career ladder


EQ Investors, chief executive


Spiers Foundation (registered charity), chairman


Bestinvest Group,

non-executive director


Bestinvest Group,

chief executive


Bestinvest Group,

founder and chief executive


Greenwell Montagu, corporate finance, head of venture funding


Granville & Co,

investment analyst


W Greenwell & Co,

investment analyst


WI Carr, investment analyst