Firing line  

No matter what happens in life, the lesson is to learn from it

AB Partners’ chief investment officer is Shahid Chaudhri, who has an institutional investment background at Salomon Brothers and Goldman Sachs.

Does the adviser market really need another DFM? Mr Higginson says: “A lot of the current DFMs are very expensive and there’s been an increased focus on costs post-RDR.

“The second thing is that a lot of them are the scale where they’ve lost the personal relationship with the end client.”

Mr Higginson has been doing his own thing since he left Sesame in 2014. It was probably not the happiest time for him, as the company was hit by complaints and a £6m fine from the Financial Conduct Authority over the advice its appointed representatives had provided.

Ultimately it was decided the company should pull out of wealth management altogether and just become a mortgage network. This is a policy Mr Higginson disagreed with.

He says: “We were going through a change and our shareholders wanted to do something different. I didn’t agree with their strategy and I think I’ve been proved right.

“Restricted is no longer a dirty word; it’s a big turnaround and people lost their nerve.

“[Becoming a mortgage network] was a fairly easy decision to take.”

He adds that a big lesson he has learnt from all this is the importance of due diligence and governance; the reason he believes the complaints at Sesame got out of hand was because of the network’s independent status and the fact that advisers liked to “play God” and think they were stockbrokers.

He says: “The first thing is, no matter what happens in your life, good or bad, the lesson is to learn from it and there’s always things you can learn from it.

“The second thing is when you go into an organisation, it’s really strange when you’re asked to go into a hierarchy at a very high level.”

Mr Higginson was brought in from Intrinsic as chief operating officer, to take over as chief executive.

“In a theoretical world you’ll bring in consultants and deep dive the business before you’ll be the boss, but you’re saying that to people you’re going to manage. It’s a strange scenario. I’ve always been very big on due diligence.

“The bigger the business is and the more mature it is, the more of that you have to do.”

Melanie Tringham is deputy features editor of Financial Adviser and