The view from Navigator Financial Planning's main office in Newry, Northern IrelandWhen did you become an Accredited Financial Planning FirmTM? What has happened since?
Navigator was one of the inaugural accredited firms, and we have maintained that status every year since. We are planning to renew again this year.
What has accredited firm status brought to your firm and why should others seek to become accredited?It allows us to demonstrate that a financial planning culture pervades our whole business at Navigator, whether it is our processes (based on the all-important six-step financial planning process), the structure of the organisation or, most important of all, our people.
What accolades and awards has the firm picked up in recent times?
Most recently we were awarded Money Marketing Small Firm of the Year 2017. This was particularly pleasing on a number of fronts: it was awarded following completion of a questionnaire on our processes and advice, and attending a panel of industry experts, who put all the firms through their paces; the award was national, which is a tremendous reflection on the whole team and business; the strength of the competition.
What sort of business is it and what services does it offer? What’s your USP?
We are unashamedly a holistic financial planning service business. If you want us simply to look after your investments to get the best return, please don’t call us. Our belief is that holistic financial planning is based on the context that only a lifetime cashflow model can provide. It gives us a context in which we can give advice and, just as importantly, gives our clients a context in which they can make decisions. We are happy to serve any client to whom we think we can add value; however there are a couple of groups of people that we have a lot of experience in and to whom we specifically market.
Owner-managers of small and medium sized businesses, typically one to five owners, are people with needs that are complex, and who do not have the expertise, the inclination, or the time to deal with those needs themselves. We help them to understand what they want to get out of their business, now and in the future, and what they ultimately want to happen to the business. We deal with them while they are in business, and during and into retirement.
A subset of this is self-employed professionals, such as doctors, dentists, solicitors – again, all people that are income rich, but very time poor.
The second group is people who have suffered serious personal injury and have received, or are about to receive, compensation, and need to husband that money for the rest of their lives. They are neither technically nor emotionally equipped to deal with this. I have been working in this market since 2001 and I find these clients some of the most rewarding to deal with.
How did you get into financial planning?
By accident, like most people of my generation. A salesperson I knew tried to sell me life cover, but at the time my wife and I were really struggling financially and career-wise. The salesperson encouraged me to speak to his boss, who offered me a job as financial consultant with a life insurance company. Although I was thrown in at the deep end (this was 1994, after all) I was fortunate enough to get good on-the-job training, and was instilled with an insistence that the client always comes first, that has stuck with me throughout my career.
Early on in my career in financial services I worked out that one of the keys to success was technical expertise, and a few years into that journey I heard Nick Cann speak at an event in Belfast. Following that, I undertook the CFP certification case study and (a) passed first time and (b) had the ‘lightbulb' moment that most people have when they go through the CFP certification process.
What’s the best thing about being at a financial planning firm?
I genuinely get a kick out of making a difference to people’s lives. For example, we are working with a young man who, a few years ago, was attacked outside a pub and left for dead. He is wheelchair-bound, and can’t cope with meetings lasting longer than about 45 minutes because of his brain injuries. He is about to be awarded a sum of money that is beyond his comprehension.
Using cashflow modelling to help him to understand that he needs every penny of that huge sum to rebuild his life in the way that he wants; protecting it against the state and against predatory ‘friends’ and relatives; helping him understand that inflation is his enemy, but that he is going to be OK – watching the lights come on in his eyes, is priceless.
What does a typical day look like?
David Crozier CFP™ Chartered MCSI
David Crozier has been giving financial advice since 1994, and launched Navigator Financial Planning in 2004. He was the first fee-based financial planner in Northern Ireland and the first CFP professional in the Province.
As a result, he has all the right experience and qualifications, and a client base made up of people who are confident in his technical expertise, especially in the areas of inheritance tax and pensions. David is a former NI branch chair of the IFP, and a founding member of the Evidence Based Investment Solutions group.
If you want to know where he is on a fine evening or weekend, the answer is usually fishing or sailing. He has a lifelong interest in photography (even if he isn't very good at it) and is an avid reader: fiction of all sorts; history; the Bible.
I’m at my desk around 8am, and begin by creating a To Do list for the day. I keep emails to a minimum, aiming to clean them out first thing in the morning, at lunchtime and at the end of the day.
At 9.30am we have a team ‘stand-up’ – five or ten minutes when we review yesterday’s activities and make sure nothing falls through the cracks. It’s called a stand-up, because if you sit down, it will take more than five minutes! Fridays are extended into a half-hour team meeting, reviewing achievements, calendars and upcoming workloads and progress on specific projects and key metrics.
I could be doing any number of things during the rest of the day: client meetings; following up said meetings; professional connection meetings; helping staff with technical queries; out of sequence calls or emails to clients; writing marketing material – any or all of the above.
What are your key tips for other planners?
This article was originally published in the Q4 2018 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'.
- We all need to get better at demonstrating to clients why we continue to offer value for money. Direct-to-consumer offerings are on their way, and will take a significant share of our market.
- Do as you would be done by. Do you have a financial plan? Preferably created by another financial planner and paid for? If you don’t recognise the value of financial planning, clients and prospects will have trouble believing you.
- As a subheading to that, do you have an exit plan? What numbers are you putting in your plan for the value of your business and when? And if you don’t have a plan, where are you getting those numbers from?
- Education: if you are not trained to a high level, how are you going to stand in the same rank as a solicitor or accountant, who is always going to be second-guessing your advice?