Russell Ulyatt Financial Services, part of the RU Group of companies, was profiled by New Model Adviser® last year, and it is already back for more.
This time there is no photoshoot around the streets of Nottingham. Instead, head of advice Ian Browne (pictured above), managing director Andrew Dyke and I get acquainted in the Russell Ulyatt head office.
Last year’s profile was part of the firm’s ambitions to ‘put themselves out there a little more’.
‘The main focus is ensuring we are an established brand,’ explains Browne. ‘We want potential clients to know who we are and know about our business before we have said a word.’
Dyke (pictured below) explains his best advice now to firms is ‘to be absolutely clear about what you want your business to look like and where you want it to go’.
The team reflects on some of the issues they faced along the way to becoming the firm it is now. Dyke reminisces that when Russell Ulyatt was formed in 2003 by the merger of two local IFA businesses, it did not quite work out as planned.
‘We expected to make massive economies of scale, which did not happen. We were too focused on being all things to all people and afraid of making the difficult calls. However, analysing and learning from those moments got us to where we are today.’
Strengthening the business
Since then, Dyke believes the firm has been ahead of the game: for example, moving to a percentage-based fee structure at the earliest opportunity. He also reflects on shifting their investment strategy towards passives: a decision he says they should have made from the start.
Dyke acknowledged the business needed investment to take it to the next level and brought in Browne as head of advice.
‘You start running a business, but your main skill is advising clients. If you are good at this, your business will grow. Eventually, this brings you problems you aren’t trained to deal with. It’s not my skillset; that’s why we hire people like Ian,’ he says.
Browne explains the firm is now looking to strengthen in other ways. ‘We want to bring in an operations director. The focus has, and always will be, clients first and foremost. However, we need to continue to be profitable.’ Since this interview, the RU Group has hired Marie Lowry as head of client services and operations.
The RU Group has more than 65 employees supporting, at our last count, over £400 million assets under advice. ‘Our employees are our biggest asset,’ Dyke says. ‘We are committed to continue training and developing them. It’s important we keep our chartered status so we continuously encourage our staff to keep achieving.
‘We get great feedback from our clients about the quality of our staff, which is very important to us.
We intend to keep investing and training our staff and wouldn’t dream of sacrificing this for financial growth. It would be a false economy.’
Browne says clients often get in touch about employees. For example, Ben Slater, who started with the firm as an apprentice at the age of 18, was used as a case study for National Apprenticeship week last year. He was featured in various news and radio outlets discussing his training, development and the success he has achieved so far.
Russell Ulyatt has a lot of appreciation for the younger generation. It says it is not big enough to run a graduate scheme. But it has been working with The Young Enterprise Scheme, the UK’s largest enterprise charity, acting as volunteer business advisers for students.
‘The standard of the young people on this scheme is amazing,’ says Browne. Dyke is quick to agree. ‘You read weekly in the papers there are not enough students with the right set of skills.
‘What we have seen completely contradicts these stories. We have seen some amazing talent. Honestly, if we could hire them all on the spot, we would.’