Karen Cooper is going back to her roots with her new business
Karen Cooper is returning to her roots with the re-establishment of Dartmouth-based family business Chadwick Financial Management – but this time she’s doing it differently
Having established Clarity Wealth Management in 2011 and helping to grow the business to a million pound turnover firm, independent financial adviser and equity release specialist Karen Cooper is reverting back to her roots with the re-establishment of the family business, Chadwick Financial Management, but this time as an all-female firm.
Having begun her career at John Charcol in London, Karen moved to Dartmouth in 1991 to join Chadwick’s, the business her father established several years earlier. She was instrumental in developing the business from general insurance into financial advice, but following the retirement of her father she made the decision to found Clarity Wealth Management, which hit a million-pound turnover in 2015.
“It was fantastic being part of a growing Clarity, but with that rapid growth I genuinely felt that I wasn’t able to dedicate my time to my clients the way I would have liked and that spurred my decision to re-establish Chadwick,” says Karen.
Karen sought the views of her key clients ahead of making the decision to re-establish the firm and says the feedback was overwhelmingly positive and encouraging.
“Chadwick has been an established high street brand in Dartmouth for over 35 years. Most of my clients moved with me from Chadwick and many still thought of it as Chadwick, so the decision to re-establish the business didn’t faze them at all. They were very supportive of my choice, which helped greatly.”
All female team
Such is Karen’s belief and passion in the business, she has relied upon her own financial resources to get started and has a strong and experienced all female team behind her.
“Michelle John is our business development manager, having joined us after 10 years as branch manager at the Yorkshire Building Society; Tanith Byles is our talented IFA administrator and Angela Murray continues as my financial administrator and payroll; Lisa Ball is our general insurance expert and Sylvia Read is joining us in the New Year as financial adviser and equity release specialist.”
With the new all-female team, she also decided to look at the branding of the firm. She explains: “I wanted the name Chadwick to conjure images of local, trusted and independent advice, but I wanted to move away from the usual style and colour schemes used generally by other professionals. So I chose a softer colour scheme for both the website and the offices. I’ve gone for a look that I feel is professional, yet comfortable and inviting.”
Focus on local presence
Karen called on the services of a local interior designer and marketing agency to help launch the new-look Chadwick’s and has sent a mail-shot to both existing and potential clients with the new logo and website. The firm is also advertising in local magazine By The Dart and will use email marketing going forwards.
“We are also strong supporters of local initiatives and good causes and we sponsor/work with selected local events and have done now for many years. Our message is a very positive one; we are extremely proud to be back and we want to highlight that through our marketing campaign and our local presence,” she says.
Indeed, reaching out to both existing and prospective clients is all part of Karen’s plan to put Chadwick’s back on the map. While the firm’s strong active client bank falls predominantly in the 50+ “at retirement” market, she has ambitious plans to target different groups of people including equity release clients, female savers and the younger generation.
“We are a technology-savvy and paperless business, and that gives us the opportunity to explore different markets on a nationwide scale,” she explains. “I’m a specialist in equity release and I really do believe that it will be a huge market going forward. We are currently building our specialist equity release website, which will be launched early 2017. Then, of course, there’s a big savings gap, especially for women, which needs to be addressed and I think educating youngsters about the importance of saving for the future will help bridge that gap as well as encourage younger generations to think about their finances and life goals.
“Diversifying helps to keep things interesting and the business current.”
Online advice proposition
In a bid to widen her reach, Karen plans to introduce a simplified online advice proposition in the near future. The new-look Chadwick’s will also offer auto-enrolment services to local businesses for a flat fee.
She says: “My key focus is not driven by sales targets; I know what I need to make in order to keep the business running and anything on top of that is simply a bonus. My passion lies in helping people achieve their goals in life. We are part of a small community in Dartmouth, which means I often bump into my clients on the street.
“My recurring income stream has always been very strong; I’ve got the confidence and experience to do a great job for my clients and I charge accordingly. The beauty of being my own boss is that I can provide a hands-on approach ensuring a high level of service and advice is afforded to all my clients in return, and this leads to the majority of our business being generated from existing clients; client referrals and our strong local presence and reputation.”
She adds: “I’ve experienced rapid growth and have been part of an extremely profitable business, but my decision to re-establish Chadwick was driven by my desire to work in a smaller business where all my energies could be focused upon the clients. That’s what really drives me.”
Visit the Chadwick Financial Management website