Opinion  

Pension freedom burden prompted us to sell

Pat Williams

Our firm, Retirement and Investment Solutions, was owned by myself and fellow adviser Steve Webb (not the former pensions minister!).

Our aim is to provide pension and investment services and solutions for people over the age of 50.

In 1997, we set up Meon Valley Financial Planning in Hampshire together and worked in Wickham Square until 2005 when we moved to Droxford, also in Hampshire - a rural setting offering free parking.

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To reflect the focus of the company, we changed the trading name to Retirement and Investment Solutions in 2008 and this is the name under which the company is now known.

Following the announcement of pension freedoms, we were aware this would bring a growing regulatory and compliance burden, and we found ourselves spending an increasing amount of our time on administration.

In order to ensure this did not impact on the time we spend with clients, we discussed ways of improving the situation for the long-term future of our clients.

One option was to employ more administration staff but the cost and time involved in training outweighed any benefit.

The other option was to think about finding a potential partner which already had all the resources we needed.

At the time, we wanted to explore all our options and met with several different companies to see if they could satisfy our criteria. We created our own checklist to help us find the best possible fit for our business.

Compass Wealth Management Group (renamed Harwood Wealth Group plc on Listing) not only had all the resources we needed already in place but they were also willing to take on our existing staff and allow us to continue with the Retirement and Investment Solutions branding.

We were also satisfied Harwood had the financial strength needed and had a long-term plan for the future of their business.

We kept our clients informed from the outset and spent time explaining the thinking behind our decision to our clients. At each phase of the process we would give them updates and encouraged them to let us know if they had any concerns. As a result we have maintained all our clients.

We have really enjoyed being able to focus on doing what we do best; meeting clients and developing our relationships with them. We no longer have to spend a considerable amount of our time on administration and compliance which leaves us to focus on growing the business.

Similarly, we are now also able to reassure clients that there are many other advisers available if either myself or Steve could no longer practice, either through ill health or retirement.

Pat Williams is chief executive of Meon Valley