Last month we launched a new financial planning business, Sylvan Financial Management, while the country is still in lockdown.
Was this such a good idea, setting out at a time when the country is in a state of social and economic uncertainty, without the ability to meet people face to face?
As is our nature as financial planners, we weighed the merits and the drawbacks of starting our business in lockdown very carefully before launching.
My fellow directors, Ed Painter and Jane Patrick, and I all met while working for Manchester city centre IFA, The Roberts Partnership.
We are all chartered financial planners; Ed and I hold Fellowship status, and together we have more than 40 years’ experience in financial services. All three of us are in our mid to late thirties and we are friends as well as business associates.
The challenges of launching in lockdown have been significant. Successful financial planning is based upon a solid foundation of trust, which takes time to build and we believe is best done face to face.
During lockdown, all we have at our disposal are phones or computer screens. Thankfully we can at least see and talk to clients and prospective clients via Microsoft Teams or Zoom, but it just is not the same as seeing them in person.
People need to get to know us, our personalities, and the services we offer, and that can be harder remotely.
Amid the pandemic chaos we were also concerned about how long it might take to get our regulatory approval from the Financial Conduct Authority, having read stories of it taking up to 13 weeks. Fortunately, the regulatory gods were smiling upon us and we were approved within just four weeks.
In the face of all of this uncertainty, it is only the steadfast belief in the value of our proposition, our experience, qualifications and the value we feel that we can deliver to our clients that gave us the confidence we needed to launch our business.
Restricted or independent?
Having worked in both restricted and independent settings, we feel that clients are best served by truly independent advice with unbiased investment selection.
We do not have to charge clients the earth for what we do, as we operate a lean business model that is also scalable. We are not hiding our fee structure and are proud to be transparent by publishing it on our website, because we know it is very competitive.
Our size enables us to focus on delivering our clients a first rate personal and responsive service – something we feel sets us apart in a world of robo-advisers and the large corporate consolidators, interested only in profit.
We do not want to take over the world, we just want to deliver excellent and personal advice to a limited number of people.