In Focus: Profitable advice business  

'I felt uncomfortable charging clients at first'

'I felt uncomfortable charging clients at first'
Kate Woosey is the owner of Alex Financial Services

Setting a charging structure for a financial planning service can be the most daunting task for a young adviser, says Kate Woosey, owner of Alex Financial Services.

Woosey, who set up shop as part of the Quilter network two years ago following her journey through the advice firm's business school, says 'imposter syndrome' can often get in the way when advisers start out.

She says this can still be amplified for women or if someone looks particularly young.

"I think it's where a lot of people initially struggle who may not be in a ... business where they have a set fee structure already," she says. "Quilter is great in terms of outlining what you should be charging, but definitely at the start I was uncomfortable with charging.

"But now that I have been in it for a while I know the value that I'm putting in. So now I'm at the stage where I'm ready to level up," she adds.

Alex FS, named after her middle name and picked due to its androgynous connotations, is a one-woman band based in Margate.

The firm provides financial planning services to clients who are predominantly self-employed and the majority of whom have never had a financial adviser.

Most of the clients originated from women's networks for self-employed people, which Woosey joined to find support herself for setting up a business. But by now the firm is growing by word of mouth and its client base is no longer exclusively female.

"I am really interested in women's wealth and having those conversations, but I didn't want to target [the firm] specifically at women because I don't want it to be a one-sided conversation," Woosey says. "But happenstance most of my clients are women and then their partners or a few men directly.

"A few of my clients now have referred me to their parents who have been underserved by their advisers in the past, so it's kind of, you know, situations where they've not seen their adviser for a few years and don't really hear anything of them."

More than just advice

Woosey likes to spend time with her clients before advising on products or services. She sees herself as much as a financial coach as an adviser, using behavioural finance techniques to understand her clients' financial patterns.

"My philosophy is try not to make it overly complicated," she says. "At the start, you know, it can be really hard for people to be thrown into a situation where they're really deep diving into their financial situation, where they might have tried to shrug it off in the past.

"I just spend time with people to understand what they want; get to know them on an individual basis is kind of how I like to think about it, but also I think there's a lot of advisers who do that already. I don't think that's particularly new."