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Intelligent Capital ready to capitalise on pension reform

INTELLIGENT Capital, a Glasgow-based firm of ­chartered financial planners founded 15 years ago, has doubled its strength and expanded into Edinburgh on the back of the pensions revolution.

Founder Graeme Forbes says last year's regulatory reforms which require advisers to be better qualified, followed by the liberalisation of pensions in the Budget, are driving the firm's growth.

"Our phone has been ­ringing off the hook in terms of the Budget changes," Mr Forbes said."It has generated a whole new market and we have been looking for additional resources."

Chartered advisers David Bremner in Glasgow and John Freeland in Edinburgh have joined from national firms, and both will become shareholders,

Mr Forbes said: "We think the only way you can hold on to senior business writers is by participation in the growth prospects of the firm."

Mr Forbes said he believed the rush by national IFA firms to buy up one and two-man bands which were losing viability, at low valuations, would not deliver sustainable growth.

"We now have four ­advisers and 11 staff in total," Mr Forbes said. "We are very much of the opinion that the most ­attractive business model is one where there are more than two but fewer than 10 advisers. We think local regional players will prosper, qualifications requirements are going up, and I think chartered will become the minimum standard."

On pensions reform, Mr Forbes said: "At the moment we are in a phoney war before the real changes come through next April, but this allows us to hit the ground running, and people with smaller funds who might not have been part of our target are now very much on the radar screen."

Barclays Capital this week claimed that the costs of compliance and resources were driving IFAs upmarket, with face-to-face advice only viable for those with investable assets of £150,000 - though £50,000 has been cited in the industry.

But Mr Forbes said the options open to retirees meant that savers with pension pots as low as £30,000 could now be viable customers for Intelligent Capital, which would turn over around £1 million this year.

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