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Diary of an adviser: Chris Ball


A welcome day in the office for me. I try to have at least one day a week in the office to focus on administration and catch up with the staff who are office based. As always, my desk is piled high with suitability reports, meeting notes and letters that need my amendment or attention before they can be sent out. Ensuring the desk is clear and clean is a cathartic process that makes me feel better – at least until the next time I arrive back into the office.


Tuesday morning is spent answering emails, dictating notes and making calls, before hosting some guests at the Derby Book Festival in the afternoon. My firm has a client who is heavily involved in the event and this year we took the opportunity to entertain two tables of clients. The literary festival is held at an old silk mill in Derby and poppies from the Tower of London were in place for it, having been returned from the royal palace and fortress.

While this is not at all my usual Tuesday, the event is a success and a good percentage of the lunch is spent discussing business. One client confirms they wish to proceed with my investment recommendations, which makes the time away from the office more justifiable.


Lots of driving today. About four years ago I was introduced by a professional connection to a business on the outskirts of Norwich. We have our annual meeting just in advance of their company year-end, and the drive from Derby to Norfolk never seems to get easier. The six or so hours in the car goes against my usual target for efficiency, but we have a productive meeting and it is likely that maximum pension contributions will be made. During the drive, I spend time making calls and listening to podcasts (Radio 4's Money Box or Radio 5's Flintoff, Savage and the Ping Pong Guy, depending on my mood).

I am back in Derby in plenty of time to have an early evening meeting with two personal investment clients. They have sold a property and we spend much of our meeting discussing the differences between clearing debt and investing for the longer term. 


I am on the train to London at 8.01am, with a meeting in St Pancras at 10.30am. Two more meetings are scheduled in the day, but the lunchtime appointment is most notable. My clients – two retired business partners who own a commercial property jointly in their Sipps – know their food.

We spend lunch in a two Michelin-starred restaurant, which makes my motorway services sandwich the day before seem a distant memory. Lease renewal and dilapidations on the commercial property are the main topics of conversation. My firm operates its own Sipp, which means commercial property conversations are something we deal with on a daily basis.

Usually I would be on the 16.58pm train home, working on my laptop to catch up on emails. However, I am spending the day in London on Friday, so I take the opportunity to catch up with an old friend; he and his wife kindly put me up for the evening.


Another unusual day today. Instead of meetings and emails, I attend retirement planner awards at a hotel in Knightsbridge. My wife joins me and we make the lunchtime event.