What do Pink Floyd, Peter Gabriel, Sting and Roland Rat all have in common? Answer - IFA Gareth Marr. Here he tells Laura Miller how professional connections brought in the big names
Veteran IFA Gareth Marr started out in a similar way to many other advisers but after a 30-year career, his client list has a touch more star quality than the average professional.
He started out in 1984, founding his own business of Marr & Bradley. Over the years he has also headed up Moores Marr Bradley, Advisory & Brokerage Services, and national IFA Origen.
He founded his last business, The Red House Consulting, in 2007, from which he has just announced his retirement after a ten-year battle with throat cancer.
How one IFA built a celeb-heavy client list
Numerous IFA careers have followed a similar trajectory but, unlike many others, Marr's life has intersected with those of the rich and famous.
He credits his success with celebrities to a bit of luck, a lot of hard work and, most importantly of all, because he proved himself to be a pillar of trustworthiness in a sea of circling sharks.
"I acquired my celebrity clients through professional connections," Marr said.
"With Pink Floyd, I had a very close relationship with their tax adviser and lawyers. Sting, Pink Floyd and Peter Gabriel had some very bad financial advice so I got called in to organise their pension arrangements.
"The thing you have to realise is you never advise people like this on your own, you are always part of a team. You must gain the respect of the team before you can start. I needed a very good relationship with their lawyers."
Fields of gold
Prog rock band Pink Floyd was Marr's first major client in the 1980s. He then took on Peter Gabriel in the 1990s and Sting for two years in the early 2000s.
He also advises Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason, and the man behind the Roland Rat puppet, David Claridge, among a list of other famous clients he chose not to name.
That most of them have moved with him as he set up and joined different firms is testimony to the quality of the service he provides. "My celebrity clients are very loyal because celebrities are often ripped off, so if they find someone they can trust they stick with them," he said.
So what is the difference between advising regular clients and advising celebrities?
"They are very different people from regular clients," according to Marr. "Sometimes you have to be very patient – you can wait up to two years to get a decision from them while they are taking breaks or organising concert tours.
"You have to work extremely closely with their lawyers and accountants. With Peter Gabriel and Nick Mason I was in very close contact with their management team on a regular basis."
Rock stars are renowned for their, well, rock star antics. However, Marr found the bigger challenge to dealing with them lay in his own behaviour.
"Trying to remember you mustn't get starstruck or tongue-tied is the biggest hurdle," he said.
"I'm a massive fan of Pink Floyd and Peter Gabriel but you have to get on with the work. Also you have to understand the way they think. Their priorities are totally different.
"A pension scheme is just another place to put their money to them – regular monthly saving for retirement is not really a priority in the same way it is for a regular person. They are not interested in the minutiae of pensions or protection or investments."
Were there specific times or circumstances when the celebrities on Marr's books particularly needed financial advice?
"You must make sure they are bulletproof in safeguarding their assets," he said.
"All sorts of things can happen to them in that world. Once, I helped organise a seven-figure tax-free lump sum from the pension of Pink Floyd's manager Steve O'Rourke – a year later, he tragically died.
"We had been able to benefit his wife and family with the arrangements we had made. That's why you really need to be on top of the regulation and technicalities so you can apply it to their circumstances. When you're doing that you're not just thinking of them you are thinking of their wives and children."
Another brick in the wall
Some IFAs may get a bottle of wine or a box of chocolates from clients at Christmas as a thank you for their hard work. But Marr's ‘thank you' gifts were a little different – much to his daughter's delight.
"I was lucky enough to get access all areas passes to several concerts. I've been to many of the major rock shows over the years, like the Pink Floyd performance of The Wall album live in Berlin.
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