Marlene Outrim CFPTM Chartered FCSI
Marlene is Managing Director and founder of UNIQ Family Wealth, drawing on 16 years’ experience of owning a financial planning practice and over 20 years’ experience as a CFP professional. She is also a chartered financial planner and a wealth manager, and only wants to work with those who are committed to achieving their lifetime goals and objectives.
When did you become an accredited firm? What has happened since?
Marlene was president of the IFP from September 2010 to October 2012. She has won several awards, including the New Model Adviser award for Wales in 2009, and Retirement Planner of the Year in 2008.
I started the business in July 2013 and applied straight away for it to become an accredited firm. We met the criteria in a pretty straightforward fashion. We did this automatically, just as you would apply for FCA authorisation, and it was a smooth process. I was already well aware of the process because I was President of the Institute of Financial Planning (IFP) in 2012 at the time that accreditation of firms was introduced.
We started with three financial planners, two of whom were CFP professionals. They had ISO 22222. The third financial planner is currently going through the CFP certification assessment and a fourth planner has now joined us. We also hold BS 8577 certification, which is a British standard awarded by Standards International to financial planning firms.
What has accredited firm status brought to your firm and why should others seek to become accredited firms?
It is a mark of approval of being a true financial planner. I am also a chartered financial planner, but I believe that it is not just about qualifications. Being a true financial planner means you put client interests first, following the six steps of financial planning and basing advice on cashflow analysis.
"We impress upon clients that we offer a cradle to grave service"What other accolades and awards has the firm picked up in recent times?
We won a Retirement Planner award from Retirement Planner in 2014 and in February this year we won two awards at the Professional Adviser awards: Adviser Firm of the Year (Wales) and Best Client Engagement in the UK. We were also commended in the Financial Times awards this year, for linking clients’ finances to health and welfare. Recently we have also been shortlisted for the Moneyfacts awards, and will find out in September this year whether we have been successful.
What sort of business is UNIQ Family Wealth and what services does it offer? What is your USP?
We offer financial planning, investment advice and asset protection for all of our clients, many of whom are families. Our unique selling point is that we help families cascade wealth seamlessly from one generation to another with a service from cradle to grave that ensures that each individual is financially secure. Every client has a financial plan and we are always on hand to guide them. Our mission is to help people manage their wealth better and in turn lead more fulfilling lives, with the purpose of ‘a life well lived’.
How did you get into financial planning?
I was a probation officer in Cardiff for 13 years. I like dealing with people so the job suited me at first, when it was more counselling based, but as the Probation Service started to change, I found that it didn’t suit me. I wanted to be my own boss, and had a combination of skills, including accountancy, as well as interpersonal skills. My first financial advice job was at Hill Samuel as a tied agent but I really didn’t like it at all!
After that I quickly joined an independent financial advisory firm and enjoyed the independent bit. At that time I had no computer and was trying to do cashflows manually, which was a lot of hard work.
I was introduced to tapes recorded by Paul Etheridge MBE CFPTM Chartered FCSI, previous Honorary President of the IFP (read our profile), where he talks about the first meeting with a client, determining their personal and professional objectives. I was struck by his professional approach.
Someone else introduced me separately to Prestwood Software and their software for financial planners, so I contacted them and joined the advanced planners group. Paul was my mentor in the early years.
What do you think about the IFP/CISI merger?
I welcomed it because I was concerned about the future of financial planning in the UK and the IFP, especially after CEO Nick Cann CFP had a stroke. The IFP didn’t have the resources to make financial planning grow.
My experience of the CISI is that it is trying to make it work. I was very happy when Jacqueline and Campbell [the CISI’s heads of financial planning] were appointed because I believe that this offers continuity because they know what financial planning really is. I believe as planners we need to support them and give it time to develop. It will be interesting to see how it develops over the coming months and years.
How have you been affected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme levy?
Not too badly actually. In our first year the cost was okay, but in the second year it increased by a third. This year the costs stayed the same. The problem is that we have no notification of the amount of any cost increase until we get the invoice, and then we have to pay it within a month. In our second year this coincided with our corporation tax bill and other large bills, which gave us a bit of a headache; so we have planned for this now for future years.
What does a typical day look like?
I don’t really have a typical day but I do have a structured week. On Tuesdays and Thursdays I see clients; every Monday the whole team has a meeting and we look back at what we have achieved, look forward and discuss any client meetings or issues that have come up, and we finish every meeting discussing the positive moments from the previous week.
I have a meeting every month with my planners and we have quarterly board meetings to which we invite individuals who we feel might be able to enhance our business. Wednesday is my free day. Sometimes it involves doing a little bit of work but sometimes I’m free to do whatever I want. My husband and I own and run a modern contemporary art gallery and I help curate the art and help with the publicity.
What do you think about Financial Planning Week this year?
I thought it was amazing! We had masses of referrals, mainly in our virtual London office. We helped many, and although some were not ideal clients, we did get three to four really big clients from the week. We impress upon them that we offer a cradle to grave service and we facilitate wills, trusts and lasting powers of attorney.
In addition, we go to two schools each year and give them our corporate piggybanks and talk to them about money (main picture). I am also part of the Wales Employer Group aimed to get youngsters to see that there is more in financial services than just banking & insurance. There are all sorts of different jobs, such as marketing and IT.
What are your key tips for other planners?
- Plan and prepare for everything; don’t just dive in.
- If you say you put client interests first then make sure you actually do that.
- Develop a great team around you. You cannot do it on your own.
- Focus on your own unique abilities, identify what they are and don’t do stuff that other people can do better.
This article was originally published in the September print edition of The Review. The print edition is available to all members who opt in to receive it, except student members. All eligible members who would like to receive future editions in the post should log in to MyCISI, click on My Account/Communications and set their preference to 'Yes'.