Adviser stories: A bond of trust

31 January 2018

Following a family tragedy, how did adviser Simon Shorthouse helped Mike and Lesley secure their younger daughter's financial future?

mum and child

A difficult set of circumstances and emotional time for Mike and Lesley led them to build a bond of trust with Robertson Baxter’s Simon Shorthouse that they can depend upon now and in the future.

Three months before their elder daughter sadly died, retired IT consultant Mike, 72, and his former teacher wife Lesley, 70, felt a pressing need to find a faithful adviser – one that was committed to ensuring financial security for their daughter....

WE STARTED WORKING WITH AN INTERNATIONAL WEALTH MANAGEMENT COMPANY in 2007, but by 2014 we’d become increasingly frustrated by the turnover of their advisers. Every so often, we’d get a phone call from a new adviser who wanted to ‘get to know us’. We felt we’d become anonymous and just an account number to that organisation.

WE INITIALLY APPROACH ANOTHER LARGE ORGANISATION and met with their adviser on one occasion. We answered all of his questions, but two months later we’d had no further contact from him. We decided we wanted to work with a small, local firm – one that was keen to be involved with us and one that would offer a personalised service.

WE LIVE ON THE OUTSKIRTS of Huddersfield, only a short drive from Robertson Baxter’s office. I initiated the contact; Simon picked the phone up and we talked for the thick end of an hour. We went to visit them at their offices and shortly afterwards had decided we were going to go for it.

WE SEEMED TO HIT IT OFF from the start. We signed some paperwork and Simon handled the transfer process. It happened seamlessly from our perspective. He was able to put us in touch with a suitable solicitor and we now have appropriate trusts in place and updated wills to reflect our family circumstances.

OUR OLDER DAUGHTER DIED more than two years ago – not long after we first made contact with Simon – and our younger daughter will require support in the longer term. Our main focus is to provide financial security for her.

HAVING HAD ONE PRETTY BAD EXPERIENCE and one appalling experience, we wanted to make sure that when we made our next move it was right for us, because of our age and circumstances. It’s been a wise decision, judging from where we are today.

THIS EXPERIENCE OF THE FINANCIAL ADVICE sector and our previous ones are like chalk and cheese. Simon has handled our affairs from day one. He has a detailed understanding of our situation and knows what our ongoing requirements are.

THE STABILITY OF THE TEAM has been a tremendous help to us. When we speak or meet with Simon we’re already on the same page. He has an in-depth knowledge of our circumstances and is able to give us advice that is focused, not a scattergun approach.

ROBERTSON BAXTER HAS A YOUNG TEAM and is of a younger generation to ourselves – something that was extremely important to us. We have gradually met everybody in their office; they are extremely friendly and have a great team spirit. We’d like to think that when we are no longer around, Simon still is.

HE’S DOING A GREAT JOB and has our complete trust. As we get older and as tax laws change it’s tremendously important to us that Simon maintains his knowledge and awareness, which we know he does, and can advise us to ensure we maintain the financial security that we want for our daughter.

MEETING UP WITH SIMON FEELS LIKE A SOCIAL EVENT, as well as a business event. We have got to know him on a personal level too. The relationship goes both ways, but only to the point of playing golf – he hasn’t let me win yet!

For Simon Shorthouse, an Associate Director of Huddersfield based Robertson Baxter, forming a personal bond with clients is one of the most rewarding aspects of the advice process...

MIKE CONTACTED ROBERTSON BAXTER in April 2015 after seeing our Joint Managing Director Stephen Baxter listed in a Sunday Telegraph guide to the UK’s top rated advisers. It was apparent from our conversation that they were facing quite a lot of personal challenges.

THEY WANTED ADVICE ON INHERITANCE TAX, Mike was quite specific about that. I explained there were other fundamentals that should be put in place first. That was a light-bulb moment for them both.

SHORTLY AFTER MEETING US, in July 2015, their elder daughter tragically lost her battle with cancer, aged only 40. Their other daughter, will need financial support and potentially medical support in the longer term. It was a very emotional time for the family. After consideration they proceeded, wanting peace of mind that people they trust would continue to look after.

I EXPLAINED MY LIMITATIONS as an adviser and the need to include another professional – a solicitor – with a view to reviewing wills, putting in place a lasting power of attorney (LPA), setting up a spousal bypass trust and writing a global letter of wishes. We work with a number of solicitors, and this specific lawyer is very experienced and empathetic. She was exactly the right person for them.

AS PART OF THE ESTATE PLANNING PROCESS, a trust was set up that enabled them to buy a house for their daughter close by. It’s given her independence; she’s happy there and it has also shown Mike and Lesley what needs, financial or otherwise, she might need later on.

I CONNECTED WITH MIKE AND LESLEY at an early stage. While we follow a similar process with clients, each is treated as an individual. Their wealth is similar to other clients, but their circumstances are completely different. I wanted to help them personally as well as professionally.

WE HAVE APPROACHED THEIR FINANCIAL PLANNING in bite-sized chunks; we didn’t try to solve everything on day one. We identified the priorities that needed to be addressed and have worked through them. It’s been a well-managed and thought-out process. We’re almost at the end of it now.

WE HAVE HELPED THEM TO CONSOLIDATE their pension arrangements to keep tighter control over future planning requirements, especially regarding the Lifetime Allowance. They have become more receptive to considering other aspects of their financial planning too. A recent experience with a single company share from a previous employer has brought home the importance of diversification.

WE HAVE WON THEIR CONFIDENCE. They have been re-assured by the quality of our advice and the [investment] returns they’ve been receiving.

I DON’T OPEN UP TO EVERYBODY, but Mike and Lesley have almost become an extension of my own family. I’ve played golf with Mike to get to know him away from the work environment. He was instrumental in my decision to take a big trip to New Zealand this year. ‘What’s stopping you?’ he asked. That was my light-bulb moment.