(Reprinted from the original article which first appeared In Cotswold Life magazine)
Marcus Gomery is Managing Director of Gloucester-based Brunsdon Financial. With a recent rebrand, ever-more focused on the client, it's a firm that's going places, whatever your financial situation.
Making sound investments and planning for retirement has never been more important. With the Brexit debate still raging, one major high street PLC being demoted from the FTSE 100 over the past month and UK job creation stalling, it's more vital than ever to plan for the future.
Brunsdon Financial offers services from wealth management to investments along with employee benefits. Its clients include medium to high net worth individuals to the big blue chips who are turning to the Gloucester-based business in their droves.
Recently re-branded, its new strapline is "Let's talk about you" - a mantra of which Managing Director Marcus Gomery is justifiably proud, and which demonstrates the importance of its clients' needs and requirements.
"We spent quite a lot of time looking at how we believe clients still want to be dealt with, particularly our medium to high net worth clients," he says.
"And we realised most people still believe it is important to be looked after by an adviser in person. Yes, some people will go online, however, we find that most people want to talk to someone, with the right experience to help find solutions and strategies with them at the forefront. Our clients require us, in person, to help make their investments and financial planning simple."
Brunsdon Financials' core services for individuals range from retirement and inheritance tax planning to private medical cover, income protection and life insurance. Alongside that sits investments, including Brunsdon's own actively managed funds.
Corporate services are also an important part of the Brunsdon portfolio and have been designed to help companies recruit, reward and retain quality personnel by offering numerous schemes and services.
The firm can advise and administer corporate pension schemes; help with workplace pension auto-enrolment; set up employee benefits and look at business protection for shareholders and corporate investment.
It's a huge range of services, and a hard-hitting social media campaign is about to launch, promoting Brunsdon Financials' track record for taking complex financial situations and simplifying them for clients.
Inheritance tax legislation is one such minefield; which Marcus and his 33-strong team of professionals - (made up of seven financial advisors, five employee benefits consultants plus administration and marketing staff) - deal with on a day-to-day basis.
He cites the example of Princess Diana, who reportedly left in excess of £12m to her sons, Princes William and Harry, when she died in 1997.
Clever investments by royal aides meant the pot had swelled to £20m by the time the boys were able to benefit from the first wave of money they were entitled to at the age of 25.
However, a lack of planning meant both were hit by significant inheritance tax bills - in William's case, it is reported to be, 40%. (Source: mirror.co.uk).
"One of the biggest questions our clients ask us is, how do they leave their money to their family - (money that they've worked hard for)," says Marcus.
"And there are things we can do to help, for example using allowances correctly and risk planning. Unfortunately, many people leave things too late."
In contrast, Marcus talks about the Duke of Westminster who, with prudent planning, managed to leave almost all of his estate to his son, avoiding billions of pounds of inheritance tax.
In 2016, the then 25-year old Hugh Grosvenor dodged a significant cut to his £9bn inheritance because the estate - most of Mayfair and Belgravia, half of Cheshire and an impressive art collection - was held in a trust.
That same year, it is reported, HMRC had collected £534bn in revenue, but only £4.7bn of that was inheritance tax.
Had the Grosvenor estate bequeathed to the new Duke of Westminster been liable for 40% inheritance tax, the amount owed to the Treasury would have been minefield which is not far off the Government's entire death duty take for that financial year. (Source: www.theguardian)
"Inheritance tax planning is significant," says Marcus. "Because we can make sure your family can keep everything you've worked for. And isn't that what all of us wants?"
Pensions, he says, are as complex as retirement is expensive.
In the UK, we now have more over 60s alive than under 16s, and because we as a nation are living longer, the traditional retirement age is no longer static. Rather than looking after clients who retire at 60 and are expected to die 10 years later, Brunsdon's financial advisors now have to plan the finances of clients who retire at 60 and may live to 100.
"Retirement is expensive," says Marcus. "There's not much you can do for free. Mindset and planning are vital for a successful retirement. That, and cash-flow forecasting. "It's a big piece of work we have to do for the client. There are all sorts of questions to consider for example, when will the state pension kick in; are you going to downsize to release equity; how are you going to find more than £10,000-ayear to live on because that's not going to go very far? "The great thing is that we've got the tools to do that - and we use a very accurate piece of kit."
Corporate pensions are another minefield which Brunsdon is adept at managing. "Higher earners need to be mindful and careful," says Marcus. "Because it is perfectly possible to pay too much into a pension, and that could leave the employee with a tax liability. It's our job to make sure that doesn't happen or make preparation for it."
Big business for Brunsdon Financial is setting up robust employee benefits schemes for larger employers - everything from medical cash plans, where subscribers are reimbursed for optical and dental costs, to obtaining professional practical help with mental health issues.
Studies by NHS Digital show that at any one time, a sixth of the population aged between 16 and 64 has suffered with a mental health issue. Since the 90s, mental health issues have been on the rise, but economic uncertainty, social media, the influence of the media and rising expectations mean the situation is worsening faster than ever. (Source: www.bbc.co.uk)
"We're starting to see employers asking us to help with mental health issues," says Marcus. "We can put in place confidential helplines - because it's not always easy for employees to approach colleagues or bosses - to arrange counselling sessions, etc."
In addition to Brunsdon Financials' long-established business, the acquisition of the employee benefits division of London-based investment management firm Brooks Macdonald earlier this year has given the Gloucester firm a strategic base in the UK's capital.
"From there, we've brought across 70 corporate clients, which has enabled us to open an office in London," said Marcus. "And we've retained 100% of those clients, which we're really proud of".
The staff are happy; the clients are happy. So, what of the future?
Brunsdon Financials' own investment funds are performing well; the employee benefits arm continues to grow significantly, and greater numbers of medium to high net worth clients are realising the benefits of dealing with a company that listens, simplifies and performs.
"We have a unique offering here," says Marcus. "And it's one we're very proud of. Let's Talk About You really sums up Brunsdon Financials' strengths and offering."
Investments can go down as well as up and you may not get back the amount invested. Brunsdon Financial is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). The FCA does not regulate tax advice.
Source: Cotswold Life