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From one-man-band adviser to corporate CEO

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In this podcast Stephen Harper, CEO of Attivo Group gives ABR his forthright views on building a financial planning group, the need for corporate structure and the optimal size for financial adviser firms going forward

[Running time 19.18]

0.50 How difficult has it been building the business to where it is today?

“One word answer… very.”  Stephen Harper

2.50 Do you agree with the viewpoint that going forward successful adviser firms will need a more corporate structure?

“I believe that’s what the regulator is looking for and quite rightly so.”  Stephen Harper

3.27 Did you plan to grow the business from day one?

“Of course, over the past 10 years that plan has evolved and changed significantly.”  Stephen Harper

5.15 What were the drivers to building your own SIPP/SSAS and DFM arms?

“The only way to manage money for clients with any sizeable portfolio is the discretionary way – an advisory way is not, in my view, appropriate in the 21st century.” Stephen Harper

7.44 Was the Employment Benefits arm established to take advantage of the momentum created by auto enrolment?

“We didn’t want company directors seeing us for their personal financial planning and then another adviser firm coming into the business to do their corporate financial planning.”  Stephen Harper

9.37 When growing the business how important is it to get the people right and at what stage do you make the decision to bring in a managing director or finance director?

“That’s a really good question…” Stephen Harper

11.50 What have been the main challenges to building the business?

“I wanted to keep 100% ownership… I was very clear in the way I wanted to take the business forward and I didn’t want to dilute that…”  Stephen Harper

13.55 What about getting the technology right?

“We are able through technology and through partnerships to achieve a look and feel that is much bigger than we actually are.” Stephen Harper

16.33 Do you feel there is an optimal size for a financial adviser business to be successful given the pressures on firms in the modern market?

“I wouldn’t want to run a directly regulated business turning over less than £1m-£3m, it’s too expensive and too risky and too dependent on too few people. You need a corporate structure, you need specialists in the business in certain areas and I don’t believe the advisers should have those roles.” Stephen Harper

17.45 Where now for Attivo Group?

“Our single biggest ambition is…”

Visit Attivo Group website

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