The Pension Planner – creating an identifiable brand
In 2012, Andrew Hursthouse set up The Pension Planner. Here, he talks to Adviser Business Review about the importance of creating an identifiable brand, marketing techniques used to attract new clients and what the future holds for the Sheffield-based firm.
Adviser Business Review: Is pensions your niche target market?
Andrew Hursthouse: We offer holistic financial planning, which incorporates every part of someone’s financial situation, so it’s not just pensions we cover. When we founded the business in 2012, we needed to come up with a name that would draw in clients and appeal to our prospective audience, so in some ways The Pension Planner was more of a marketing exercise. Many individuals seeking financial advice are thinking about pensions and retirement so I knew creating a brand people could identify with was very important.
We get great clients contacting us through Unbiased and I firmly believe a lot of that is down to the branding. I’ve had clients who have scrolled through three or four pages to find us, passing a lot of other firms in the process, but are drawn to the name – we do what it says on the tin.
ABR: Who is your typical client?
AH: Our average client is around 60 years of age and has around £130,000 of investable assets. We have many older clients who have been with us for years and originally came to us seeking inheritance tax planning advice. Now we find new enquiries tend to come from younger people, around 50 years of age, who are planning ahead for the next 10 years and need the right advice.
Our ideal client would be someone we could add real value to, regardless of whether they are young or old. We don’t wish to pigeonhole ourselves in terms of age or assets. Our charging structure is similar to other advisers – percentage based on assets as well as minimum set fees. Therefore, if someone comes to us with a transactional piece of work, for example a cash ISA, we would be willing to help them.
ABR: How has your client base grown over the past three years?
AH: Our growth has been largely organic and the majority of new clients have come through referrals. We have in the past paid a marketing company to book us appointments with prospective clients, through which we managed to secure good business, but it can be a hard slog and a substantial financial outlay. Also, it can take a little while to see results. We did it for six months, at which point we realised we were attracting enough business and were in a position to be able to stop.
ABR: What impact have the pension freedoms had on your business?
AH: They had a big impact initially, with more enquiries coming to us from people wishing to cash their pension in. The majority of those people had a much firmer idea of what they wanted than previously – they had clearly done their research and had a set idea in their mind of what to do, be that good or bad. In some instances, we had to turn people away if we felt they wanted to do something we would advise against. However, I’ve noticed more recent enquiries have been a bit more sensible with less people wishing to do something rash.
I think overall, both existing and prospective clients like the idea of having flexibility, and more options, whether they choose to use those or not.
ABR: What are your future plans for The Pension Planner?
AH: We went directly authorised in June so for the moment we are getting to grips with what that entails for us as a business. We have been very fortunate that in the last six months we have exceeded our annual target for recurring income so we are making great progress. While it would be helpful to bring a new adviser on now, it would be too difficult to manage so many changes to the business at present. Our aim is to bring on two new advisers by June 2016, and eventually over the much longer term, we hope to build it to six other business writers.
The Pension Planner
Business founded: June 2012
Total staff : Three. Two advisers, one administrator. Outsourced paraplanning
Clients: 350 clients, all active.
Assets under Management: £25 million