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Kelvin targeting growth to meet new demand

A FINANCIAL planning firm is looking to increase staff numbers and considering further acquisitions as it sees a growing demand for advice from younger clients.

Kelvin Financial Planning has enjoyed a rapid rise since its formation by financial advisers Michael Jackson, Graeme Leckie and Chris Malcolm.

The three, all in their 30s when they launched the business, went out on their own after the independent firm they worked for in Glasgow, as self-employed consultants, joined St James's Place Wealth Management.

In the two years since Kelvin has embarked on a joint venture with an independent law firm, acquired the client base of a retiring adviser and in January this year lifted the top regional award from Vouched For, the body which rates financial advisers on client feedback.

Mr Jackson, the youngest of Kelvin's directors at 33, said the firm prides itself on "placing greater emphasis on planning for clients".

Noting that products are "secondary to the big picture" for people dealing with life-changing events such as retirement, he said: "That has been a change for us since setting the business up. Previously it was all about product. Now it is all about the client.

"And that has helped us, because the clients are more interested in talking about themselves than hearing about us talk about a product. It keeps the focus on them."

Putting the clients' needs first also means selling them the most competitively priced products that fulfil the objectives on the market, Mr Jackson said. "If the costs are less, there is more of a return left for the client," he said.

"We charge our clients fixed fees, which are agreed at the outset."

Mr Jackson said that most of the firm's clients are aged 55 to 75 who are "fully engaged in the financial planning process" and actively planning for their retirement.

But he said he has noticed a rise in enquiries from younger clients in the last year. Common questions include how much of their gross income can they afford to spend and what their insurance requirements are.

Mr Jackson said: "What we are finding is that people are questioning the financial products they maybe already own or were maybe sold by the bank when they took out the mortgage.

"At the younger end of the spectrum, the young parents are not sure if life cover of £100,000 to meet their mortgage is actually enough.

"What we are able to do is create a financial planning scenario that quantifies how much life cover and how much insurance benefit they should have.

"Some people are blissfully unaware that the £8 per month they are paying for their insurance is woefully inadequate if they have two or three children."

Mr Jackson revealed the company has mulled over other acquisition opportunities since it took on the client list of a retiring adviser but so far has not sensed "the same feeling of quality".

But the directors have made concrete moves to invest in their own premises at 180 West Regent Street in Glasgow, via their pension schemes, and set up a joint venture with law firm Russell & Aitken.

Mr Jackson described that as a way to provide "joined up legal advice and financial planning" in areas including inheritance tax planning and auto enrolment pensions.

Kelvin currently employs six full-time staff, and is eager to continue its expansion. It recently hired a graduate, Andrew Gilmour, who will join the business full-time in June.

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