Those with Less Assets Can Actually Have More to Gain

By: Natalie Holt
Content editor
Nucleus Financial Group

Clare Farrell, managing director at Northfield Wealth talks to Natalie Holt about building a business to give advice and support to as many people as possible and going beyond solely high-net-worth clients.

Clare Farrell
Clare Farrell, Northfield Wealth

Like many advisers, Clare Farrell is driven by a desire to help people. For her, the decision to set up her own business was born out of taking the best working practices she’d seen in her career, and the elements she enjoyed most about being an adviser, and bringing them together at Northfield Wealth.

Clare had been in the financial services industry for about 15 years before deciding to go self-employed, having started out in the banking world before moving to work at large advice firms such as Edward Jones. She set up Northfield Wealth in 2013, initially through the Intrinsic network before going directly authorised in 2015. 

Clare says: “I really enjoyed helping people, overcoming problems for them and getting them to where they needed to be. But I also had this vision in my mind of being focused on helping clients, as opposed to perhaps helping a profit centre.

“When I was on maternity leave I started to think, ‘could I create something myself, is this something that could work?’ I also wondered if I was crazy to give up a really well-paid job. But I gradually started planning and decided that while it was a risk, it was a calculated risk. I said to myself: ‘I think I can make a go of it.’”

The vision for a more modern approach

Northfield Wealth’s core focus and vision is to help people achieve their financial goals. Clare recognises that while one business can’t help everybody, she’s keen to give advice and support to as many people as possible. In particular, she launched the business with a view to going beyond offering advice to solely high-net-worth clients, who tend to be the preserve of more traditional wealth management firms.

She argues all kinds of people can benefit from advice, and in some cases those with less assets can actually have more to gain.  

Clare says adapting the principles from Gino Wickman’s business books helped her shape Northfield Wealth’s values and put in place effective processes, and also informed the firm’s approach to things like company culture and recruitment.

When it came to branding, Clare spent time developing the logo and branding in a way that reflected her overall vision for the company.

“When I first started I’d worked for a wide range of firms, some traditional and some modern. I wanted there to be a bit of a combination of that within the branding. We know that financial services firms are generally thought of as traditional and professional, but I also didn’t want to want us to come across as stuffy and unapproachable. So I needed there to be a bit of a modern twist.”

Following some research into trusted colours and branding that works well, Clare came across a modern image of a tree that resonated with her. After a bit of input from her website designer, the Northfield Wealth logo was created.

“To be honest, the tree was a bit of a happy accident. My initial thinking was along the lines of a money tree, which other people have also thought. But we have one client who is really into tai chi who said it was a tree of life. So now I think the money tree and the tree of life are great interpretations, and are quite a good combination really.”

Company culture, and advice for others

The culture of a business is important to its success, but is also increasingly important when it comes to attracting good people. This is something Clare has found in her own recruitment efforts, particularly in going up against larger advice firms with big budgets to match.

She has responded by focusing on employee wellbeing and looking after her team through offering things such as generous holiday packages. She has also linked the business’s goals to her aspirations for widening out staff benefits further, so that when the firm hits certain levels of turnover she can then introduce certain benefits to her team.

Clare’s first piece of advice to those looking to start their own financial planning practice is to not be afraid to ask questions.

 “That’s probably the single most important thing that’s helped me grow as a business. Even though I’ve been in financial services for 20 years, there’s still so much to learn. And I’ve never learned as much as I have in the last seven years having from my own business.”

Clare says this approach to continuous learning has fed into her approach to qualifications, and has helped her stay on top of a constantly changing advice market.  

Finally, she recommends lots of networking with local businesses and professional connections.

Clearly it’s tricky to get out and network at present, but Clare remains a big advocate of using adviser events to gain insight from others.

“The adviser community is really helpful, and you can learn so much from the knowledge of other people in your circle. If you can just get over that barrier that some people have where they might see you as competition, actually chatting to people that do the same job as you is a wonderful opportunity for learning on both sides.”

Some other resources

The Traction library, by Gino Wickman

You can also find more related articles on Illuminate, Nucleus’ practice development website for financial advisers.

These include:

Three ideas to make your business more resilient by Brett Davidson, Founder, FP Advance

Why is it so hard to scale a financial planning business? by Jon Pittham, Managing Director, ClientsFirst

Lockdown, la dolce vita and making ‘one day’ a reality by Natalie Holt, Content Editor, Nucleus

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