Get your Finances in Shape

How could an Independent Financial Adviser help you? We interview Colin Brisco to find out more about the role and services available to our customers.

The West Brom has a partnership with Towergate Financial to offer financial planning and advice services through its branch network.

Towergate’s advisers are independent, which means they are not tied in with any particular companies and can search the entire market to build customers a personalised plan.

Colin Brisco has worked in financial services for more than 25 years and is an Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) with Towergate based at the West Brom’s Shirley branch.

We spoke to Colin about his career, current job role, the need to save and tips for would-be investors.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

When I was young my dad would tell me “don’t put off until tomorrow what you can do today”.  Normally he was trying to get me to finish my homework, but I guess what he really meant was it’s best to face things head on because delaying them will always cost you in the end.

When did you first start saving and what were you saving for?

I was about 15 and wanted a car ready for when I could drive.  All my pocket money and earnings from doing odd jobs went towards it.  It felt great to be one of the first among my friends to get one without relying on my parents or getting into debt.

What are your clients typically investing for or saving towards?

Mostly people are saving for security in older age.  They want to enjoy the things in life they perhaps haven’t had time to do while working.  Some would also like to help out their families, for example by supporting them with mortgage or loan repayments, or putting money towards university tuition fees. 

How would you encourage more people to think about planning for their financial future?

Look at the type of lifestyle your parents have now, either in older age or retirement.  The kind of pensions they are enjoying and the interest rates that were available to them in the past simply aren’t around these days.  The market is totally different and there is a real focus on helping ourselves in order to secure a better future.  However, the reality is that many people don’t look much beyond their latest pay packet or what their next big purchase is going to be.

When is the best time to make a start?

There is no ‘best time’; the simple answer is as soon as you can.  Life will inevitably throw you some curved balls over time so that old saying of my dad’s about not putting things off today is perhaps more relevant now than it has ever been.

Are people at risk of leaving it too late to plan for their retirement?

Unfortunately many are.  All the statistics point towards people living longer in the future, so that means they could spend as much time in retirement as they have done working, perhaps more.

The point is that any savings you have or investments you have made are going to have to support your lifestyle for a very long time. If you don’t want to compromise on that lifestyle then planning and making an early start are essential.

Why did you become an IFA?

My father in law worked for the Pru and very much enjoyed his job.  I went for an interview myself and they were willing to give me a chance.  Some 25 years later I’m still working in the industry and it’s satisfying to know that we are adding value to people’s lives by helping them realise their goals.

Do people have misconceptions about what a consultation with an IFA entails?

Some are cautious because they don’t want to be sold to or pushed to take an investment they don’t need.  Therefore an essential part of the consultation involves getting to know your client.  We don’t open the laptop or scribble notes – we just listen and start to build a relationship.  This dialogue continues once an investment begins.

Some people can be a bit uneasy about discussing money matters.  How do you put them at ease?

I find that talking initially about anything but financial matters works well.  We discuss hobbies and interests, but usually it’s family that makes people really open up – they love to talk about children and grandchildren as they are often a great source of pride.  As the conversation progresses we can start to build up a picture of what the client is hoping to achieve through an investment and that is the key to successful financial planning.

Why is it better to seek advice rather than invest money yourself?

Financial services can be complicated so it is important and reassuring to have expert help.  IFAs are qualified professionals with considerable knowledge and we spend time researching the whole market to find the right solutions for our customers.
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