What made a top financial advice firm in 2020?


The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated trends which were already present in the financial planning profession, according to guests on the latest edition of the FTAdviser Podcast.

In this week's edition FTAdviser digital editor Damian Fantato spoke to two firms in the top 10 of the FTAdviser Top 100 Financial Advisers, which was published this week, to find out how they navigated their way through this strange year while continuing to thrive as a firm.

Henry Denne, head of financial planning at Punter Southall, and Scott Stevens, head of recruitment and acquisitions at Quilter, discussed what characteristics would have helped an advice firm succeed during 2020.

Mr Stevens said: "For all of the negative factors that Covid and the pandemic has bought, I think the number one thing for me is it has accelerated some of those trends we were already starting to see in their infancy, particularly around remote advice."

Mr Denne said providing advice remotely meant geography had "shrunk", with one of Punter Southall's matrimonial experts from Guildford advising a new client who had come through the Edinburgh branch.

Both Mr Denne and Mr Stevens emphasised the importance of firms being adaptable, and both predicted some of the shifts seen over the course of 2020 would be permanent.

Mr Denne said: "We think the answer is going to be a more nuanced one in that we are going to choose to see clients and clients are going to choose to see us because we want to, rather than because we have to."

Mr Stevens said the key factor which had allowed firms within Quilter Financial Planning to grow during 2020 was having already built up a pipeline in the months before lockdown.

He said: "The beauty of our industry is that if you put lots of hard work in across November, December, January and February, even when we started getting some of that lockdown in March, that business is still flowing through.

"For many of them they had built up this demand at the back end of 2019, going into that Q1 and they desperately needed people to be able to fulfill that."

He added that firms with a "pipeline of warm lead generation" were also able to do well during 2020.

Mr Denne emphasised the importance of proposition, explaining Punter Southall had put in place a new investment proposition in early March.

He said: "The proposition is one of the key attractive features. I would love to pretend it's because they meet us, love us and want to work with us but it is the entire proposition that people want to work for."

To listen to the full podcast click play on the video above or listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher or Acast.