Affinity Financial Advisors

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

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.

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.