Some of you will have followed the trials and tribulations of Park Row over the last month or two. Park Row Associates is being wound up, and will be closed for business by the time this article is published.
I am not going to ruminate on the whys and wherefores of this decision, instead share my experience and thoughts that have lead me to take the decision I have and align myself with the firms and individuals that I have.
I spoke to as many different organisations and individuals as possible to collate as much information as possible.
And at the same time I broke down my business over the last year or so, and thought about how I would like my business to look at a point in the future.
Any decision of this magnitude must be fully researched and without good quality and accurate information then you cannot make a decision.
Some of the areas that I found particularly revealing included:
• What business can I write with this IFA/Network? Do not assume that all of the business you have been writing where you are can be written. In particular occupational transfers and tax planning tools seem to be the real stumbling blocks. Even if they can be written check the procedure. I personally asked for access to the compliance manual.
• How is the group preparing for RDR? I looked not only at the approach to charging but the transitional plans for the business and the investment processes they have or are putting in to place.
• Quality and fit of the compliance regime to your business. By this I mean, are the compliance procedures and underlying processes conducive to your business style? If you will be licensed to transact occupational transfers with your new IFA/Network, but if the process doesn’t fit with the way you do business, then it will be you that will have to change – rest assured procedures will not be rewritten just for you.
These along with other points can whittle down the field quite quickly, but remember what fits your business may not fit your colleague’s business.
This is why it is important to actually take a step back and review your business over the last 12-24 months. In my own case over half of my business in the past has been pension related, whereas in the last 12 months I have found myself placing more bonds and trusts related business than anything else.
This was as a result of me moving further in to the UK Res Non Dom market. The profile of my “average” client remains broadly similar, with this one exception. So the ability to continue advising clients if they return overseas via passporting or IMD was crucial to me.
Once you have undertaken this qualitative analysis of the market, you should then and only then start looking at the deals on the table, which may or may not include client management software, offices, management support and of course how much you get paid.
A process not dissimilar to that we undertake when making a recommendation to a client.
Thank you for indulging me once more. I hope the advisers among you might have found some of my experiences of use.
And finally let me wish all the IFAs and staff at Park Row every success in the future.
Tony Clements is an IFA with Park Row Corporate and Private Clients
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