Midland Independent Financial Services

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Midland Independent Financial Services'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 Midland Independent Financial Services 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
John Webb, founder and
managing director
Midland Independent Financial Services Limited, who now
predominantly cover pensions and investments, operated
originally alongside Midland IFA, who specialised in
mortgage advice. In 2008, the two companies were amalgamated
and they are now based in Cannock, Staffordshire, where they
employ 11 staff. The company has organically grown since the
fusion of the two, and founder and managing director, John
Webb, discusses the processes and practices which have been
integral to their success.
We now focus on pensions, investments, mortgages and protection. Our business,
formed originally in 1994, was built on mortgages. Over time, I gained chartered
status and became a fellow of the PFS. Our business however is now generated
predominantly from advice and services rendered concerning pensions. We have
over the last few years advised on a considerable number of occupational pension
transfers; we are actively involved in final salary transfers – also known as defined
benefit pensions – and our philosophy has always been to put ourselves with our
knowledge in our clients’ shoes and think about what we would do.
The best advice and the best deal
We remain honest with all clients throughout any dealings with them. For a lot of
them, I personally see myself as something of a life coach – a lot of clients come to
me asking about, for instance, a new job they’ve been offered. It’s not all about the
money – it’s about providing a client with the means to enjoy life and we strive to
help them do so. Many clients who have spent their lives accumulating wealth find
it difficult to spend; when they retire, we can help them to “break the mould” and
enjoy life.
We endeavour to educate people and enhance their lifestyles by helping them to
look after tomorrow while enabling them to live for today. A client I was recently
introduced to came to me asking about rearranging her finances as, following a
divorce, she suffered serious financial difficulties. I spent some time advising her on
how to plan for the future. We did not charge her for this advice; I know that, in the
future, when she is in a position to pay for our services, she will. Without our clients,
we have no business, so it makes sense that everything we do is for their betterment
and their benefit.
We often say that you should always treat others as you wish to be treated yourself,
but do it first. Everything focuses on our clients at Midland Independent – with
Growing to accommodate
During the 2017/18 financial year, our turnover was £1.24 million. Around five years
ago that figure was comparatively £405,000. When we became chartered in 2014,
our client base began to grow and thus did the networks they could then offer. Most
»Founder and managing
director: John Webb
»Established in 1994
»Based in Cannock,
»Services: Financial advice,
mainly regarding pensions and
»No. of employees: 11
»Turnover in 2017:
»Midland IFA incorporated into
Midland IFS in 2008
Midland Independent
Financial Services
of our accounts are private, rather
than businesses, and it was a mixture
of circumstance and coincidence that
drove this expansion.
Where some other advisers may
transact business that is not necessarily
in clients’ best interests, we want to try
and change things. There is no need
for our sector to thrive on clients’ fear –
for instance, where Jaguar Land Rover
have changed their pension scheme,
thousands of employees are looking at
transferring their final salary pension.
There are some independent firms
telling people that transfer values could
fall – but the chances of that happening
in the short term are remote.
Fearmongering from immoral firms is
something that we stand vehemently
against, as we have built our business
on educating clients so that they
can make informed decisions for the
Educate your customers
Up until last year all business growth
was as a result of word-of-mouth
recommendation, thanks to the
networks we had luckily acquired
during the course of our trading.
We are, however, looking to change
things, not just with regards to our
growth, but with regards to how
people interact with the industry. As a
result of the immoral business practices
we have seen in our sector, we have
been carrying out seminars aimed
at educating the public and raising
Sadly, these have been put on hold
as a result of the adverse publicity
surrounding final salary pension
transfers, primarily in the case of British
Steel. We are hoping at some stage
to reintroduce these seminars as every
attendee’s feedback was positive.
We, as a company, feel that being
successful and in a position to offer free
seminars is our way of giving something
back to the community; if we educate
people, then, when they need a
financial adviser, we will undoubtedly
be their first port of call.
A future without contingency
We are and have always been a great
believer in contingency charging, which
basically means that if no business is
transacted upon meeting, then we do
not charge for our services. Sadly, we
anticipate moves to ban this, which will
force us to charge all clients for any and
all work undertaken.
Should contingency charging be
banned, we as a company would earn
considerably more; we do believe,
however, that it would be to our
clients’ detriment. Without contingency
charging, and taking into account
the UK savings gap, the cost for our
services could be more damaging than
beneficial. If we, for instance, advised
a client not to do anything, we are not
providing any value at that immediate
time. With this ban, we could see clients
be charged nonetheless for that service.
Contingency charging only becomes
an issue when a handful of firms
force clients to transact business; if
you are a reputable organisation, you
do what’s right for the client. In late
2017, I had an NHS consultant come
to me in the wake of a messy divorce
and some serious financial difficulties.
After helping her to get everything
in order, we did not charge her until
she was back on her feet. That is why
contingency charging should remain in
place – our business is built on it, and
it remains, in most cases, a mutually
beneficial and ethicalpractice.
While the legislative future of the
industry might be uncertain, I do know
what I want for the company; I’m 57
now, and with my daughter in the
company, I want to see her become
both chartered and a fellow within
five or six years so that I can start only
advising a few select clients, all the
while watching the business hopefully
grow from afar. Being able to take a
back seat and watch growth, all the
while knowing I have truly helped the
community, is something I really do look
forward to.
Our offices in
We endeavour
to educate
people and
enhance their
lifestyles by
helping them
look after
while enabling
them to live
for today


This article was sponsored by Midland Independent Financial Services. 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 The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister