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Sheffield IFAs expanding on back of MMR and pension freedoms

Sheffield IFAs expanding on back of MMR and pension freedoms

Two Sheffield-based IFA firms have embarked on separate expansion plans following various changes in financial legislation, which have led to a surge of enquiries over the past few months.

The Pension Planner, set up in 2012 by Andrew Hursthouse and Nicholas Pratt – both with 20 years of experience as general IFAs – recently moved into a bigger office and took on an apprentice, with plans to take on two more advisers.

Mr Pratt said that post-6 April, the firm had been inundated with enquiries from people wanting to access their pensions.

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“We have actually been turning down business and up to 50 per cent of calls do not get to an adviser,” he said.

Meanwhile, Paul Dorward, mortgage adviser and founder of PAD Financial, said: “In the past few months, we have gone from a few mortgage enquiries a week to several a day.”

The firm, which provides whole-of-market mortgage advice on purchases, remortgages, buy-to-let and help-to-buy, is in the process of rebranding and has taken on an administrator and a trainee adviser in a response to the demand.

He said that post-MMR, more had been written about advisers and this had given rise to more positivity and more willingness for consumers to engage with financial advice.

“Confidence is high, the good news stories and the great rates on offer are filtering through, showing the market is stable, and with the economy improving, people are jumping on property,” he said.

Enquiries were coming from an array of sources from first-time buyers and shared ownership to second-time buyers with complex borrowing, and from a broad spectrum of people – from those with clean credit to those with adverse credit history and in debt management plans.

The increase was also attributed to the protracted process that mortgage applicants have faced with some of the big lenders, he said.

However, Mr Dorward added that dealings with the lenders were improving, with some embracing technology and willing to process applications quicker.

Fairstone milestone

Fairstone Financial Management and Fairstone Financial Management (City), both part of the Fairstone Group, have been awarded corporate chartered status by the CII.

Lee Hartley, chief executive of the Fairstone Group, said the achievement, which comes at a time of rapid growth for the firm, represented a key milestone for the business, making it one of the UK’s largest chartered financial planning firms.

Since 2011, the firm has brought on board 34 financial advisory firms, including offices in Northern Ireland, Bristol and London. The firm has more than 230 advisers acting for more than 30,000 clients.