Firing line  

‘Sometimes advisers need to ignore the M&A noise’

Jiten Varsani is adamant he will remain a boutique IFA firm with just a handful of advisers and resist the temptation of jumping on the mergers and acquisitions bandwagon.

“Some might say I’m a dork. But we’re established and we like history. Clients can see this passion,” said Varsani.

The new business owner has always wanted to push himself.

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“My parents were hard-working. My dad was a fork-lift driver for 40 years. If I look at this sector, it only wants earnings above a certain amount. I don’t want to be an adviser that can only accept certain levels of income.”

Varsani founded FortyOne Money because he wanted something of his own. “I wanted to build something from scratch of my own.”

The firm is an appointed representative of London Money, Varsani’s employer for the past three and a half years.

“People think I’m nuts starting a business now, but my employer is happy for me to carry my clients over. That’s where the industry is broken - bigger firms trying to own clients.”

Fellow brokers have gone to court over the issue. One who went independent after working for Sequence, a subsidiary of estate agent behemoth Connells, was accused of breaching his restrictive covenant at the end of 2020. 

A year and a half later, Connells was ordered by a county court to pay the broker it used to employ £8,000 due to being “unreasonable” in its litigation of the claim.

'I wanted to build something from scratch of my own' (Image credit: Carmen Reichman)

‘I was told I was being stupid by the IFA world’

Up until 2019, Varsani did cashflow modelling as an IFA. He then moved into mortgages and protection, having felt there was a big gap in how clients were served across the two ponds.

“I was told I was being stupid by the IFA world. Most people go from mortgage and protection to IFAs, not backwards. But I think I’ve side-stepped,” said Varsani.

His intention is to build a company which bridges a gap between these two worlds. The new business will officially go live in mid-September.

Varsani is taking a partner approach to his business. He already works with an IFA.

“With new products and regulations, it’s getting harder to be top of your game in everything,” he explained. 

“You can either stitch yourself and dabble, or really focus on bits you know and partner up.”

“We used to be scared of passing clients to somebody else. One, you were worried they’d steal your client. I was trained by the banks - it was all ‘sell, sell, sell, don’t let anything out the door’.

“And two, you’d be worried - having built up a good relationship with the client - that somebody else could match that same communication and strain your relationship.”