Altorfer Financial Management Ltd Independent Financial Advisers
HistoryLife for Altorfer began in late 1990 on the corner of a borrowed desk in a sympathetic accountant's office. Our authorisations to trade arrived the same morning. Altorfer's founder and Managing Director, Roger Taylor, was soon joined by several staff (notably his P.A. Sue Gadenne) from the company of which he was previously Managing Director, a couple more desks were acquired, and we were in business! Since then we have increased assets under management at an average rate of almost £150,000 per week, every single week, since December 1990. Not a bad achievement for such a small company.
Within nine months we had moved into our current courtyard offices, set on three floors. In 1998 the Freehold was purchased, giving us total security of tenure. Meanwhile the number of employees was gradually expanding. Daniel Wackett joined us from Lloyds Bank in 1996. In 1998 Mark Chaplin, a chartered accountant who had been a long-standing client of the company, joined us as Finance Director. Daniel, Mark and Roger, after intensive study, were all awarded the Investment Management Certificate from the Institute of Investment Management and Research.
In October 1998 the then regulator, the Personal Investment Authority, authorised Altorfer to undertake discretionary portfolio management. Our funds under direct discretionary management now stand at £115 million.
At the end of 2000, we were joined by Christina Georgiou, previously a Branch Manager and Financial Adviser with Woolwich plc, and Lynn Webb, who had many years' financial experience with Abbey National plc and the Bank of England.
In 2004 Sue Gadenne retired, after sixteen years as Roger's P.A. and Head of Administration. Her role was taken over by Lynn.
Meanwhile our client base was, as usual, growing inexorably, putting increasing pressure on the advisory staff in particular. We therefore appointed Helen Batchelor, now Helen Wake, who had studied Law at the University of Hertfordshire, and was also a qualified Financial Adviser, to assist with our advisory function.
Such has been the relentless increase in workload, Gill Lovelace joined the Advisory team in April 2006. Gill returned to financial services after a six year break to have a family. She previously worked for 12 years at Legal & General. Her experience has proved to be invaluable in her role with us.
In August 2007, Katy Calcaterra, now Katy Massey, joined the administrative team, having worked for a number of years in financial services.
We believe that knowledge and expertise is fundamental to delivering sound financial advice. Roger and Daniel, who both already held the Advanced Financial Planning Certificate, continued their studies to achieve Certified Financial Planner status. At that time, there were only several hundred advisers in the UK who held this qualification.
The summer of 2010 saw Christina poached to join a City adviser, and this enabled a reorganisation of the advisor support team. By September Rohan Patel, a former adviser with Halifax, had joined as a trainee paraplanner.
In May 2011, Daniel Wackett was appointed to the board, as Associate Director. Daniel, who has been with the company for sixteen years, will continue in his position as Senior Adviser, whilst taking on further responsibilities and the inevitable training obligations which this promotion involves.
In June 2011, as a result of increased regulatory workload and the continual flow of additional clients, we appointed another paraplanner to our adviser support team - Louisa Bracey. Louisa brings seven years financial services experience, and is also studying towards the Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning.
The start of 2013 saw huge regulatory change in the financial advice sector, with the introduction of the Retail Distribution Review (RDR). With the banning of sales-based commissions, many advisory firms were forced to re-engineer their business model completely. Fortunately, Altorfer started adapting to this so-called New Model in the mid-90ís. For many years our principal revenue has been from fund management fees. From that perspective the transition to the new regime was painless.
2013 was also a year of staff changes at Altorfer. Rohan left us to go travelling the world and was replaced by Rita Zanella. We also strengthened the advisory staff, with the appointment of David Ashley, and the administrative team, with the appointment of Sabrina Williams. David has taken on some of the clients no longer being looked after by Roger, following his withdrawal from actively providing advice.
Sonia Rivas joined us in February 2015 as a paraplanner. In May 2015, Roger became Non-Executive Chairman, Daniel assumed the role of Managing Director, Helen joined the board as Compliance Officer and Money Laundering Officer and Louisa was appointed Head Paraplanner overseeing the team providing support to the advisers.
In December 2016, Sabrina moved to our paraplanning team and Gemma Smith joined us as trainee administrator. Both have now progressed to a level where the Trainee title is no longer required.
We started succession planning for Mark in 2017 with, following rigorous training, many of his responsibilities passing to Daniel, Helen and Louisa. Part of this process involved appointing Louisa as a Director in January 2018, with particular responsibility for Human Resources and Information Technology. Helen became Company Secretary at the same time. She is also our Compliance Officer and the main point of contact with the Financial Conduct Authority. The final part of the jigsaw was the appointment of Mohamed Faamy as a Trainee Adviser in September 2018. Mohamed joined us from Santander after 17 years in various roles. Mark retired in November 2018 after over 20 yearsí service.
Katy left us in August 2018 to move to Scotland and was replaced by Kay Martinez in October 2018. Kay brings a wealth of experience in general insurance but admits she is on a steep learning curve with investments and pensions. We are already planning for Lynnís retirement, although no specific timeframe is in place.
With such an experienced and well qualified team, the company is well placed for the demands of the next decade. We have ensured we comply with the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), the second Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MiFID II) and the Insurance Distribution Directive (IDD). We are also working towards the changes to the Senior Managers and Certification Regime (SMCR), which come into force in 2019. All of this legislation increases the workload for our staff so we have improved our systems and technology so that it has as little adverse effect on our clients as possible. We hope that the tightening of the rules will improve the wider financial services industry and prevent the reoccurrence of the scandals that have created headlines in the past. We are pleased to say that we have never had a client complaint upheld by the Financial Ombudsman Service and only one has even got that far. We take the view that, while we are not perfect, we constantly strive to improve and ensure that any mistakes are not repeated.
Most of the employees now own shares in the company, with the aim of retaining their services for the longer term, and a further share option scheme is in place to expand this ownership in 2022. Minimising staff turnover has always been a key policy for Altorfer, as this has knock on effects for both other staff members and, most importantly, our clients. We want to continue the family atmosphere that has always been the case throughout our history and ensure that clients never become just a number.
In terms of the levels of qualifications required, all advisory staff at Altorfer meet the standards, and all hold the now mandatory Statement of Professional Standing (SPS). This requires ongoing Continuous Professional Development of at least 35 hours each year before the SPS is renewed.