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Fantasy footie fans become star transfers at London IFA

Ben Kehoe and Matthew Thomas of Equanimity have thrived under the inspirational leadership of Helen Howcroft

Fantasy footie fans become star transfers at London IFA

Core passive, satellite active. That would be a fair description of many an investment portfolio. But at Equanimity IFA in Islington, it is in fact the fantasy football transfer policy of paraplanners Ben Kehoe and Matthew Thomas.

The rival gaffers, whose carefully selected Premier League squads have been battling it out in an online league, essentially choose to hold on to their best players, even when form is lacking.

This patient strategy might bring a joyful tear to the eyes of steadfast indexers, as well as those with a careful eye on costs. So it seems a worthwhile focal point for today’s frugal choice of Breakfast Club venue, the hallowed booths of Wetherspoons.

Inspirational leader

Both Kehoe and Thomas have a keen interest in investment management, which has remained undimmed since joining Equanimity IFA in 2016.

For Thomas, it was the opportunity to sit exams and develop as a professional that drew him to managing director Helen Howcroft’s firm. ‘I wouldn’t say I was looking specifically for an advice role,’ he says. ‘I just thought: “I need a new challenge and I want to keep on learning.”’

Having moved to the UK in 2015, the Australian found himself seeking the London lifestyle, where he met Howcroft. ‘I met with Helen and was blown away with her view of the profession,’ he says. ‘Helen’s client-centric approach really reinvigorated my love for advice.’

Kehoe’s decision to join Equanimity had more deadline day drama to it, however. Work permit problems, also known as a declined visa, left Kehoe stranded in Amsterdam where he worked remotely for six months. Again, Howcroft’s influence proved invaluable, and she supported Kehoe through the uncertainty, until he eventually received sponsorship.

‘Helen was a massive help in my time abroad, her support was unwavering – she even relocated the office summer party to Amsterdam,’ he says.

Team spirit

In fantasy football, the captain’s points are worth double, meaning a carefully selected skipper can be the difference between glory or mediocrity. The same can be true in advice, and in fitting with their passive transfer policy, Thomas and Kehoe are happy to stick with their leader for the long term.

‘I was stagnating in my previous role,’ says Thomas. ‘I couldn’t get into meetings no matter how much I tried, and it was impossible to gain experience.’

Now things could not be more different. Their roles now include client relationship management, and at least one of them will sit in on every client meeting. Kehoe feels he is learning from this involvement. ‘Helen’s fantastic at establishing the client relationship,’ he explains. ‘She puts you at ease, and clients can trust she knows exactly what she’s talking about.’

Kehoe also feels the relationship management role is strengthening the proposition. ‘It’s become a friendship with a lot of clients,’ he says.

As breakfast draws to a close, Kehoe mentions he would like to progress into advice. It seems a natural step. Thomas, meanwhile, is aiming to sit his chartered exams before making the next move.

Best breakfast ever

Thomas: When I first met my wife. The first breakfast she made me was Mexican scrambled eggs. It was really nice, and I thought, ‘I could get used to this’.

Kehoe: My first Irish breakfast. I had never been overseas before, and had a massive fry-up on my first day.

Morning moan

Thomas: I always read the football gossip columns, and reports on the previous night’s games. That always gets me animated.

Kehoe: I check the fantasy football points in the morning. If I’m not top of the table, it winds me up.

Career highlight

Thomas: Finishing the R0 exams. It is a lot of work.

Kehoe: Graduating with a degree in commerce.

Best career decision

Both: Coming to work for Equanimity.

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6 Comments FCA: we'll visit every DB transfer adviser if we need to

FCA: we'll visit every DB transfer adviser if we need to

The Financial Conduct Authority has pledged to visit every firm offering defined benefit pension transfer advice if necessary to improve suitability levels across the market