Five IFAs across Cornwall are joining forces as part of a new initiative to promote the benefits of independent financial advice to consumers.
BetterOffCornwall, a project part-funded by the European Union's (EU's) Convergence Programme, is intended for those consumers who are financially aware but could make better use of their assets or income.
Each of the five firms contributes £75 per month for 10 months which the EU matches. That cash, £7,500 in total, is pooled together and will be used by public relations firm Blackcats PR to help the IFAs market their services more effectively. The adviser firms are not entitled to use the funds for the individual promotion of their businesses.
The EU identified Cornwall as having a relatively weak economy compared with the EU average, so awarded it 'convergence status', worth £415m (€579m) over the period 2007-2013. Part of that cash will go toward promoting independent advice.
Peter Matthew, an IFA at Jacksons Financial Services, one of the participating firms, says: "The idea behind the scheme is to increase the economic welfare of Cornwall by education and planning advice. Financial planning is not difficult but lots of people live cheque to cheque."
Tom Bowcock, of Blackcats, adds: "IFA firms are particularly susceptible to pressure from larger businesses in their category due to the marketing budget larger companies bring to bear. This is designed to help them work together in order to compete more effectively."
A website providing a synopsis of the services offered by the participating IFAs is up and running, while local businesses and press, as well as the consumer media, are set to run advertising campaigns. There are even plans for a BetterOffCornwall day.
In addition surveys designed to highlight "demographic stories", gaps in planning which the firms can help plug, will be carried out in the New Year.
Bowcock says: "Very often people do not think of their local high street firms when looking for financial advice - their first port of call is more often the bank.
"But in recent years there has been a resurgence of local business in Cornwall - with a plethora of successful campaigns designed to get people shopping local and we see no reason why that can't be extended to financial services."
Five firms are currently involved; Jacksons Financial Services in Penzance, Kelsall Steele in Truro, Rhodri Evans 2Plan in St Austell, iimia John K Miln and Company in Falmouth and 1st 4 Mortgages in Perranporth. For more information, visit http://www.betteroffcornwall.com/
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