IFAs – Independent Financial Advisors, or Intensely Frustrating Arch-Enemies?!

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We’ve all been there: you’ve got your hands full, juggling house keys, shopping bags and gym kit when your phone rings.  You manage to answer, without even registering the number on the screen, and it’s one of those – the cold call.  “Hi mate, it’s Ben, are you free to chat?” You’ve never met Ben before, not even spoken to him before, and on it goes. 

But, we’ve said it before and I’m afraid we will say it again, the cold call does still work.  No one likes to make it or receive it, but the approach does work because one in 50 calls ends in a face to face meeting.

To be clear, Berkeley Assets is here to work with and support independent financial advisors (IFAs), but even we have come up against some good, bad and dare we say, ugly in this industry.

I recall one situation where we were working with an IFA who had been forced to use certain mutual funds for his clients by his previous employer despite his assertion that there were better funds available.  It’s important to note here that many IFAs are made the scapegoat for problems often beyond their control and in this particular case, the IFA was keen to de-risk his clients’ portfolios and was also working to source a fixed income solution.  We worked with him to advise that one particular fund that his clients were invested in seemed to be highly unstable.  As such, he advised the clients to sell and place the capital with Berkeley Assets. 

Fast forward eight months and the previous fund goes into liquidation, but his clients who avoided such losses praise his foresight and he has built a more extensive client base through referrals. 

This is our industry working at its best and this is what we’re all striving to achieve. 

It’s also been really interesting to see the response we’ve had from IFAs after the acquisition of Cryptech, a business which invests in ideas and start-ups that are utilising Blockchain as well as actively trading the top four cryptocurrencies in the world, Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple and Litecoin, utilising a two-pronged strategy to deliver consistent gains across cryptocurrencies and blockchain. 

They love the proposition that Cryptech offers and one of the reasons we chose to acquire this business was because of the demand from the retail market, with clients actively asking us to help them make the most out of Blockchain technology opportunities.

Our exclusive partnership with FBMM means we only work with the most ethical and professional IFAs.  It means we can avoid the kind of IFAs who I once came across who told me they only sell products from life insurance companies so that they can receive high upfront commissions. 

These are the guys to watch out for.  Thanks to a growing IFA network and our due diligence processes, we can quickly identify those who put clients first, and I’m finding that the ‘bad’ ones are becoming a growing minority.

My advice to IFAs? Put your clients first in order to build a relationship which can be nurtured over decades.  This means you don’t need to spend a huge proportion of your time looking for new clients because your reputation and referrals will always bring new opportunities to you.

Omar Jackson is a Partner at Berkeley Assets, who heads up the Cryptech business and technology division.