How Mifid II gave London IFA a competitive advantage

Finura Partners managing director Nathan Mead-Wellings sits down with Ashley Thomas Walsh to discuss building a 'completely transparent' business model

Did setting up a business post-retail distribution review and just as Mifid II had begun to surface provide a competitive advantage?

That is the question Finura Partners managing director Nathan Mead-Wellings (pictured) has been asking himself. He says setting up in January 2014 with fellow directors Toby Owen-Browne and James Herman meant he knew exactly how the business had to be run.

‘The competitive advantage comes from having a completely transparent business model from scratch,’ he says. ‘We built a tight proposition and really knew how we wanted our business to look going forward.’

Did setting up a business post-retail distribution review and just as Mifid II had begun to surface provide a competitive advantage?

That is the question Finura Partners managing director Nathan Mead-Wellings (pictured) has been asking himself. He says setting up in January 2014 with fellow directors Toby Owen-Browne and James Herman meant he knew exactly how the business had to be run.

‘The competitive advantage comes from having a completely transparent business model from scratch,’ he says. ‘We built a tight proposition and really knew how we wanted our business to look going forward.’

Demonstrating value 

One feature that helps Finura Partners stand out is the way in which it charges clients. It offers the option of its services being delivered for a fixed fee on an hourly basis. ‘A profession should not charge a percentage fee on what a client is worth,’ Mead-Wellings says.

A challenge for Finura, he admits, is that it is more daunting for advisers to state a whole numeric figure fee than a percentage fee. ‘Psychologically, it is harder for the client to take in. That is why it is so important we demonstrate what they get by working with Finura.’

He explains Finura aims to educate clients on the fact they are paying for more than just the investments. ‘Historically, the percentage is based on investment services. We are not saying that should not be the case, but we choose to use a discretionary fund manager so we can focus our time on the value we can actually deliver.’

Demonstrating value (part two)

The value, he says, is in financial planning and at the core of that is cashflow analysis. Mead-Wellings explains how the firm has taken a more ‘lifestyle’ approach to financial planning. ‘I would not go as far as calling us life coaches. However, we have a huge interest in behavioural finance and psychology. We want to take the emotion out of decision making.’

Mead-Wellings says helping clients understand their own biases and decision making are extremely important. ‘It goes a lot further than just financial planning.’

Five years after setting up the firm, it now has £300 million assets under advice and 20 employees. This is a remarkable achievement for a firm that claims to have grown 100% organically, without acquisitions. Mead-Wellings says the challenge is growing while maintaining the company culture.

‘We operate a knowledge-sharing culture,’ he says. ‘As a young team, we are looking for people to grow with us.’

The house rules

Finura insists every client review is checked by at least two qualified people. The firm encourages staff to be vocal about any cases they are working on. ‘One person’s opinion is never 100% right,’ says Mead-Wellings. ‘It always helps to get a fresh pair of eyes or a different perspective. Clients appreciate knowing this is how we operate too.’

Any adviser protective of their client book will not be right for Finura. This can make recruitment tricky, with the pool of young advisers already quite small.

Support staff are therefore key. ‘When you agree to become a Finura client, you are not paying for the adviser,’ Mead-Wellings says. ‘You are gaining access to the whole team. We like to allocate two to three support staff to each client. The right support and infrastructure are crucial to our culture.’

The house rules (part two)

Mead-Wellings says the adviser is no longer the star of the show and he wants to break what he calls a ‘them versus us’ attitude. ‘Effectively, I am a relationship manager. It is the wider Finura team that allows us to deliver the best client service.

‘Overall, the client wants and should receive good service for what they are paying. Anyone can run investments. The banks and larger firms have been known to not focus on service as much as they should. We have brought in clients who talk of rarely being contacted by their previous firms.’

As Finura looks to the next five years, Mead-Wellings advises firms to think about what people will need in 20 years and make every part of their business as transparent as possible.

Share this story

More Content

BUSINESS

Janus Henderson veteran Stephen Peak to retire

Janus Henderson veteran Stephen Peak to retire

Peak, who joined Henderson back in 1992, is retiring in a reshuffle on Janus Henderson's European equity desk.

ADVICE

No Lambo: sensible savers no cause for drawdown worry

No Lambo: sensible savers no cause for drawdown worry

The majority of people are not entirely reliant on their personal pensions to provide an income in retirement, further suggesting current withdrawal levels are not a major worry.

twitter_banner

INVESTMENT