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Marketing: Tea, cake and financial advice at The Retirement Café

Justin King, managing director of Dorset-based MFP Wealth Management, has set up The  Retirement Café, a means to engage with local consumers on the issues around retirement and later life planning

“We want to offer people a safe, relaxed environment where they can tap into the knowledge of experts and get answers to their questions.” That is how Justin King, managing director of MFP Wealth Management and the brains behind the Retirement Café, describes his latest venture.

Justin explains that the demographic of his client base is the at or in retirement market and he wanted to create a free event where, over coffee and cake, people could have the opportunity to learn more about the issues and challenges that may affect their retirement.

“We specialise in retirement planning, particularly those already in retirement so we have a good understanding of the issues and concerns people of that age have.

“Often, people have not previously had any interaction with a financial adviser yet all of a sudden are expected to make lots of decisions which can be confusing and overwhelming. We wanted to provide the opportunity for people to meet with myself and experts from different chosen fields, to help navigate them through their questions and concerns.”

Justin’s team held its first Retirement Café at The Kings Arms Hotel in Christchurch, Dorset, in May, focusing on the subject of funding of care in later life.

The level of interest in the event, which had 25 attendees, was greater than expected, Justin says. The team relied on social media and email marketing to promote it, and used the audience gathered through Justin’s 2014 published book Ready, Steady, Retire! to spread the word.

Justin believes the interest in the event highlights the need for greater engagement with consumers.

“The Internet is brilliant in offering information but it can often prove difficult to sift through and people are left asking how the abundance of information is relevant to their personal situation. That’s why having access to experts in the field to answer very specific questions is so useful,” he says.

Justin chose funding later life care as the topic for the first Retirement Café because it’s an issue which he says continually crops up in conversations with clients.

“I know that understanding how later life care works and what you’re entitled to can be complex and confusing. My father in law recently needed care so there was a personal element to it,” he explains.

Following the event, Justin’s team emailed attendees asking for feedback and the comments were overwhelmingly positive, he says.

“We polled our attendees, asking what they liked and didn’t like about the event and what we could do differently. Having that personal feedback was very important to us and thankfully everyone was very positive. The only complaint we received was that there was too much cake on offer!”

Next month Justin will tackle the issue of inheritance tax. He has lined up two experts in the fields of tax, wills and trusts to talk: Kurt Lee of Lester Aldridge Solicitors and Graham Wilde of TaxNetUK Ltd. Justin, Kurt and Graham will discuss strategies for passing on wealth to loved ones and how to mitigate the inheritance tax that would be due on an individual’s estate.

“It’s a two-hour free session where we encourage non-stop questions. The information shared is for guidance only, we are not looking to sell to people or gain clients,” says Justin. “Our aim is to share the knowledge we have acquired and allow people to take away some tips. During our first event, people didn’t stop asking questions and sharing stories and we expect future events will be the same.”

Looking ahead, Justin plans to hold The Retirement Café every couple of months, focusing on a range of subjects, including health and holiday in retirement. Justin uses contacts from within his professional and friendship networks, describing it as a “great way of harnessing the knowledge I have around me.”

While Justin says he is not using the events as a way of gaining clients, he admits it could be an effective method for other advisers and hopes that the initiative will be replicated by others.

“These events show consumers that there are professionals out there they can reach out and speak to. The prospect of contacting someone in financial services can be daunting so we aim to provide a softer, safer environment. I don’t think you can beat having experts on hand to answer your questions face-to-face,” he says.

Visit the MFP Wealth Management website



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