January 2, 2019
Newton Aycliffe-based Eldon Financial Planning (Eldon) picked up the Chartered Financial Planning Firm of the Year award at The Personal Finance Society (PFS) Awards UK 2018/19, held in London in November 2018 and hosted by broadcaster Clive Anderson. This is the second time Eldon has received the award, having also won in 2011. PFS is part of the Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) Group, which gained its Royal Charter more than 100 years ago. Director Gemma Siddle was also celebrating on the night, having reached the final three in the individual UK Chartered Financial Planner of the Year category for the second year in a row. A record number of entries for the 14 categories made these the most competitive awards yet.
Eldon was founded in 2002, by three like- minded financial planning experts determined to re-think the traditional model by providing an ongoing, holistic, financial planning service.
The directors went on to gain the highest available CII qualifications and embed a culture of ‘treating customers fairly’.
Passionate about the development of the profession, they achieved Chartered status and Fellowship of the PFS in their very first wave.
Since then, Eldon has continued to grow through referral and recommendation by listening closely to its clients and helping them understand their finances.
The Eldon team works with its clients to answer key questions such as when can they retire, is their money in the best place, do they have enough for their future plans, can they make gifts, and can they afford future care?
Through years of experience, technical expertise and professional qualifications, the team demonstrates to clients the benefits of successful financial planning, in turn giving them choices and the ability to confidently deal with life’s inevitable unexpected circumstances.
Eldon continues to invest in technology and systems to deliver an efficient, accessible and personalised service, setting out clients’ financial goals and milestones in a highly visual and easy to understand way.
Engrained with its CII pedigree, Eldon’s new colleagues – be they paraplanners or financial planners – all work towards Chartered status. The team can proudly boast that, other than through retirement, no-one has ever left the business.
Gemma is a ‘Chartered Champion’ and an active member of the national Financial Planning Panel who gets involved with local community and charity initiatives as well as promoting the profession to young people through training and work experience. The team also regularly provides financial planning industry insight to local BBC Radio.
To win the PFS award, Eldon went through a rigorous process to satisfy the judging criteria of demonstrating the highest commitment to professionalism, the qualification and development of its people, as well as a highly-professional and ethical culture, and a strong commitment to customer care. The PFS panel said of the winning team: “The judges were impressed by Eldon, a Chartered financial planning firm with a unique culture driven by client centricity and commitment to nurturing the talent of the future.”
Reflecting on the win and being up against much larger city-based firms with national reach, Eldon director, Tony Conner, says: “We are absolutely delighted to win this accolade.
Our team is hard-working with a strong culture of doing the best for our clients, so to have this external recognition and endorsement of the work we do is fantastic.
“Because of the value we add, we have clients that travel hundreds of miles for their review meetings with us, even from London – a form of ‘North-shoring’. The award shows that we have nationally-recognised expertise right here in the North East.”
The Eldon team works to keep the business agile, nimble and up-to-date with the latest industry and technological developments for the benefit of its clients. This flexibility helps it to identify with the likes of entrepreneurs, scaling business owners, those wondering whether they can afford a significant career change later in life or those who are looking to retire early.
Adopting a collaborative, client-centric and tailored approach, the Eldon team works closely with each of its clients’ other professional advisers to develop a fully-integrated financial plan. It is not unusual for solicitors and accountants to meet with clients at Eldon’s office, or vice versa. This ensures that all the professionals are aligned with the overall financial plan – with the client front and centre. The client-focused process, long-term relationships and results it generates mean that the majority of Eldon’s work comes from referrals and recommendations by fellow professionals.
Another key differentiator is that Eldon is strategically configuring itself to become an eternal business by gradually moving it into employee- ownership. Bucking the trend in the financial planning industry for takeovers and buy-outs and adhering to its own ethos of thinking ahead, Eldon’s carefully considered succession planning will guarantee ongoing client focus and stability and reward the team for its hard work and dedication. As well as helping to retain and attract top-level financial planning talent, this strategy will insulate the business from the risks and uncertainties of sale in the future.
Gemma Siddle concludes: “We’re not trying to take over the world and are not targeting a large number of clients. We know each of our clients extremely well and work with them to help them understand their finances. We use our skills and approachability to find out what’s important to them and then agree a strategy to meet those priorities.
“For some, it is looking at early retirement; for others, it is handling complex pensions tax issues, or personal planning issues around selling their business; and for others again, it is balancing
the worries of parents needing care, their own retirement and supporting children.
“Everyone has their own story and we work out where we can add value to that story.”
Eldon Financial Planning
Eldon Financial Planning Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.
Registered in England & Wales No. 4561871.