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From administrator to adviser and business owner

Steven Rowe, founder of Lucent Financial Planning, tells Fiona Bond the lessons he’s learned setting up a business, attracting younger clients and why the market should embrace robo advice

Adviser Business Review: How did you come to set up your own business?

Steven Rowe: I previously worked as an administrator, but having worked closely with advisers, I felt it was a career path I should pursue. Once I had taken all my exams, and built up the knowledge and experience I needed, I made the decision to set up my own business. That was seven years ago and of course, it was all very new to me so the first year was daunting, but as time went on I grew in confidence and learnt what was right and wrong for me as a business. I would say it took me around three years to really get into my stride.

ABR: What advice would you give to an adviser seeking to set up their own firm?

SR: My biggest piece of advice would be not to listen to other people! A lot of the mistakes I made were as a result of listening to other’s advice. What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for another because certain styles of business suit certain personalities. I tried several different ways when I started out and in the end, I realised that following my gut and doing things my way was the best approach. Of course, you don’t know until you do something but I would say don’t try to follow or emulate someone else as you need to find your own path.

ABR: Your average client is 50 plus; is the cost of long term care a growing issue?

SR: Care fees are an issue and there isn’t much available in terms of financial products specifically aimed at dealing with the cost of care. For those in the accumulation phase, the focus is upon building up as much as possible, but for those in retirement it’s much harder as you’ve only got what you’ve got. The government really needs to set up something similar to auto-enrolment that is specifically designed to cover long-term care costs, a system whereby a lump sum of money is put aside exclusively for care. Without new measures, longer life expectancy and a rise in the number of those requiring care will become a huge problem.

ABR: What excites you about the advice market going forward?

SR: I think robo-advice presents a fantastic opportunity for the financial services industry as it will allow greater numbers of people to access help and plan for their future. There’s been a question mark over whether it will affect the role of financial advisers, but I am firm believer that those who want to do it themselves will do just that. Robo-advice will enable greater access, which in turn will lead to a better understanding of what options people have which can only be a good thing. Of course, there will be matters that will be too complex for a computer to deal with and there will always be a desire among certain people to have a helping hand and guidance but together, advisers and robo-advice can help target a much wider market.

ABR: What are your plans for the future?

SR: We are a small firm of just three and I’m the only adviser. I always said I wouldn’t want to hire another adviser, although I am slowly coming round to the idea. I like being a small business; from the outset I knew I wanted to stay a small firm with the focus upon helping people and building close relationships. I currently have 70 clients, both private clients and business owners, and I enjoy the variation; working with small businesses is really interesting as there’s a lot you can do and I often find business owners and entrepreneurs are open to new ideas and enjoy seeking out opportunities. I would, however, like to increase the number of younger clients I have, as I’m in my late 30s, and it would be great to work with people of a similar age. I have around five clients in their 30s, but I hope through referrals and recommendations I will be able to increase that number in the future.

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