My business: Planning for change

In the first interview for The Review print edition's new ‘My business’ section, which profiles an Accredited Financial Planning™ firm each quarter, Wayne Cox, Deputy CEO of Fiscal Engineers and Virginia Bolton CFP™ Chartered MCSI talk about the value of retaining financial control during transitional periods


Virginia Bolton CFP™ Chartered MCSI, Chartered Wealth Manager
Virginia is a financial planner, delivering wealth management solutions to clients while forming deep and enduring relationships with them. She joined Fiscal Engineers in 2004, bringing with her an abundance of experience and mentoring capabilities. Virginia devises and organises Fiscal Engineer’s events calendar for both clients and professional partners.

Virginia is a CFP™ professional, a Chartered Wealth Manager and holds the Advanced Financial Planning Certificate. In 2013 she was awarded the IFP Branch Chairman of the Year Award.

Wayne Cox, Deputy CEO
Wayne is a director of Fiscal Engineers and Deputy Chief Executive Officer. Prior to this he was a senior partner at KPMG for 25 years. Wayne is responsible for implementing Fiscal Engineer’s business strategy and development, overseeing operational activity, including tax strategy, people, process, compliance and risk.

Wayne is a member of ICAEW and a Fellow Chartered Accountant (FCA).

When did you become an accredited firm? What has happened since?

VB: We entered the Accredited Financial Planning Firm of the Year Award in 2013 but we were pipped at the post. We reapplied in 2014 and were delighted to win! Since then we have grown significantly, and now have 24 staff, including five advisers and six paraplanners. We have 132 clients and £300m assets under management.
WC: What is great is that about 75% of our new clients come from existing client referrals and 25% from professional referrals. We do next to no advertising.

What has accredited firm status brought to your firm and why should others seek to become accredited firms themselves?

VB: It is nice to gain the acknowledgement from peers but it is not just that. Along with the way we work, it sends a message to our clients that we are a serious organisation that does things properly for our clients.

What other accolades and awards has the firm picked up in recent times?

VB: We have won and been shortlisted for the New Model Adviser awards over the last nine years, as well as a number of other awards, but we’ve been so busy that we haven’t found time to enter any awards so far this year.

What sort of business is Fiscal Engineers and what services does it offer? What’s your USP?

WC: We help people at significant points of transition in their lives. Often this may mean moving from having high earnings to living off wealth, perhaps at the point of retirement for senior professionals, or going from being income rich to asset rich for those selling a business. Occasionally it might also be a client facing widowhood or divorce proceedings.

How did you get into financial planning?

VB: I owned my own business for 25 years but then my business partner wanted to retire. I met Shane Mullins [CEO of Fiscal Engineers] in 2004 and it went from there!
WC: My background is as a chartered accountant, having worked at KPMG for 25 years and been a partner there. I was actually a client of Fiscal Engineers. When it came to the point where I was looking for a change of lifestyle, Shane asked if I would be interested in joining as I already knew most of the clients! I know and appreciate what it is like to be a client of Fiscal Engineers and Gini [Virginia] is my financial planner.
VB: I don’t actually have a financial planner but do it on my own – cobbler’s shoes!

What’s the best thing about being at a financial planning firm?VB: During meetings it is a wonderful feeling being able to give comfort to clients and show them that they don’t have to worry, through regular monitoring of their financial plan. Clients really appreciate that. Also the range of different people we meet every day and build relationships with is fascinating.
WC: Having some wealth is fantastic but it is a responsibility for clients. Giving them that feeling where they have things under control means so much.

What do you think about the IFP/CISI merger?
VB: I used to be the branch chair at the IFP East Midlands & Lincoln branch, but stepped down in September 2015 before the merger was announced. We have been concerned about the connectivity that always existed at the IFP and would like to see that replicated at the CISI. We would like to see more branch meetings at the East Midlands & Lincoln branch – they are missed by quite a few. The Accredited Financial Planning Firms™ Conference is always a great event and provides us with the opportunity to connect with each other. However, we must say that we were very pleased to hear of both Jacqueline and Campbell’s appointments!

How have you been affected by the FSCS levy?
VB and WC: It went up 100% in just three years. We do not think it is proportionate. However, we are level-headed about the advice we give clients, but it does feel a bit like we are paying for those who are giving riskier advice!

What does a typical day look like?
VB: There isn’t one. That’s the beauty of it. Today for example looks like this:

8.30am – Team huddle – HR stuff as I am meeting with a new staff member to see how they are settling in

After that I have a client meeting, then a meeting with one of our paraplanners, then a new report to check. Then review our arrangements for a couple of forthcoming client events.

Perhaps a chance of a few holes of golf after work if the weather’s nice!

What do you think about Financial Planning Week?

VB: We have been involved in previous years, but it’s difficult with the level of wealth we are usually involved with. I think it could be more educational, targeting schools and universities.

What are your key tips for other planners?

  1. Run your business like a plc – that’s what we do. We have non-executive directors and an advisory board providing an outside influence.
  2. Have passion for what you do.
  3. Strong teamwork and integrity is vital.
  4. Really know your clients. Get to know them outside the financial aspects.
  5. Think about things from a client's perspective.
Contact Virginia:
Contact Wayne:
Call 0115 955 5600

For a firm to become accredited it must:

• evidence that it meets strict criteria in relation to the delivery of financial planning
• place clients at the heart of its business proposition and ensure they receive consistently excellent service
• reconfirm it meets the standards on an annual basis to retain its accredited status.

In addition, at least 50% of the firm's FCA registered advisers must be qualified as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professional or Chartered Financial Planner (with AF5). At least one director/partner of the firm must be a current CFP professional.

Consumers can find a list of accredited firms in their area by accessing Wayfinder and inserting their post code.

Find out more about becoming accredited.

The original version of this article was published in the July 2016 print edition of The Review.
Published: 13 Jul 2016
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