Affinity Financial Advisors

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Affinity Financial Advisors's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Affinity Financial Advisors is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

Highlighting best practice
Directors Steven Groves,
Robert Salter and Kim York
Affinity Financial Advisors have been based in West London
since 2000 and in Hillingdon since 2003. Their advisors
cover the South East including London, Buckinghamshire,
Middlesex, Oxfordshire, Hertfordshire and Hampshire. Directors
Steven Groves, Robert Salter, Kim York and recently appointed
Aaron Chichon each have over 25 years’ experience in the
industry, and advise on pensions, pre and post-retirement,
investments, life protection, tax planning and mortgages. The
directors tell
The Parliamentary Review
about the need to educate
younger people about finance.
Expert, plain-speaking advice based on a comprehensive analysis of the market lies at
the heart of all the financial products and services we provide. Independence is also a
critical part of how we work to ensure our advice is completelyunbiased and always
has the client’s best interests at heart. Over the years, we have earned the trust of
employers, institutions and individuals by delivering tailor-made solutions to satisfy
their financial objectives.
However, even with our experience and specialist knowledge, our work is not
without its challenges. This is particularly true in today’s fast-changing regulatory and
economic environment.
Cost containment
All businesses battle with the issue of rising costs versus income, and the financial
world is no different. We are proud to be regulated by the Financial Conduct
Authority and we appreciate this doesn’t come without a price. We want to get
things right and provide the best service for our clients, but frequent changes in
regulations can prove a particular challenge.
We realise we are not alone in feeling burdened by an ever-growing volume of
constantly evolving paperwork, accompanied by increases in FCA and professional
indemnity fees, Financial Ombudsman Service levies and the increase in the FOS
claim limit. This is compounded by rising costs of developing technology, office and
software licences – as well as the need for higher qualified staff to keep abreast of
these demands.
Increases in client data gathering, although very necessary, can divert attention from
our clients’ needs. An interpersonal approach is one of our core values. Professor Ben
Rickayzen of the Cass Business School, one of our clients, expressed his appreciation
of this. “Rob never rushes our meetings and takes time to understand our particular
situation. We certainly don’t feel like another number in a list of customers,” he said.
It is vital to us that we maintain this approach. Yet, so often we read articles stressing
how, as an industry, we need to keep costs down to encourage more people to seek
professional financial advice. It is important that these procedural areas are pulled
together to be effective and focused, while making sure that the IFA community
is not lost due to ever-increasing costs. Perhaps a possible solution could be a panel
»Directors: Steven Groves,
Robert Salter and Kim York
»Established in 2000
»Based in Hillingdon covering
the South East
»Services: Independent financial
»No. of employees: 20
»Regulated by the Financial
Conduct Authority
Affinity Financial
comprising the FCA and FOS, as well as
professional indemnity and independent
financial advisors. This panel could give
direction and help maintain a balance
between the growing demands placed
by regulatory requirements and the cost
implications for the various aspects of
the industry.
Starting young
A particular concern of ours is the lack
of understanding of even the basics of
finance among many young people.
It is essential nowadays for people to
take responsibility for their own financial
concerns. Hiding behind a lack of
knowledge is simply not an option.
This means introducing children to the
fundamentals in their formative years. All
too soon they will need to understand
about ISAs, pensions and the importance
of life cover, critical illness or income
protection. I find many don’t even know
how to open a bank account or what
a cheque is. A simple understanding of
how to protect cards and PIN numbers,
for example, is essential in these days of
increasing cyber and financial crime.
We have a strong historical connection
to the education sector. Some of our
longest-standing clients come from
this industry, such as Eton College, the
Royal Masonic School and University
College. I went so far as to speak to
a headteacher, offering to give some
free introductory talks to the pupils.
My offer was politely declined for a
very disappointing reason: it was felt it
would be inappropriate for an unknown
man to visiting and talk to the children.
Public perceptions
Like many in our profession, we pride
ourselves on inspiring trust in our clients
through always having their best interests
at heart. Unfortunately, this is an aspect
of the industry generally not reflected in
the media. Many people opt to manage
their own personal finances because
of the fear of falling foul of immoral
business practices. It would be useful if
the media could be encouraged to realise
that a generalised negative approach to
the IFA community is unhelpful.
Our members have been in the industry
for over 35 years, during which time
we have seen many changes, but what
hasn’t changed is people. The days of
“the man from the Pru” – for many older
clients their first introduction to financial
consultants – are long gone. But people
still require the same reassurance of
common sense and honest advice which
leads to the all-important element of trust.
Looking forward
Nevertheless, we do feel that there
is much to be positive about. For
example, we would welcome a move to
encourage more women to enter what
has historically been a male-dominated
profession. This could help to address
the issue of trust, as research shows
that people are often more ready to
place their trust in a female advisor.
We are also keen to embrace progress
in technology to help us provide the
best possible service to our clients. We
recently had an overhaul of our client
software system, through the installation
of Intelliflo Intelligent Office. Once
through the set-up phase, it became
clear that such developments in IT offer
exciting prospects. While we will always
believe in the value of face-to-face
communication with our clients, we
look forward to harnessing this with the
latest technological advances so we can
offer our clients the best of both worlds.
Regarding our proposal for a panel, we
feel it could be more beneficial for the
industry to adopt a cohesive approach
to change, rather than individual
factions making amendments which
others have to follow.
In the current climate of uncertainty, it
would be unrealistic not to anticipate
some challenging times ahead. It is
important to recognise challenges not as
obstacles, but as opportunities for change
and growth. One thing that we would
never change, however, is our unfailing
commitment to quality, honesty and
integrity. Qualifications and procedure
are necessary; but what is important,
too, is for people to know that you care.
One of our team
Like many in
profession, we
pride ourselves
on inspiring
trust in our
always having
their best
interests at

This article was sponsored by Affinity Financial Advisors. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster