Making waves in the financial services sector

March 5, 2020

The Durham-based firm Wealth of Advice now manages a client portfolio worth more than £115 million and was recently rated as one of the best in the industry by the people who matter the most – its clients. Owner Chris Breward tells us more about his entrepreneurial journey and what the future holds for him and his team of 15 employees

Eight years ago, businessman Chris Breward had a vision – he wanted to launch a financial advice company that did things differently, one that would help change perceptions of the industry for the better.

Having worked for some of the North East and West’s largest employers, Chris was only too aware that there was little trust in companies within the sector and a feeling that it was quite stuffy and elitist.

At the age of just 33, Chris felt he was ideally positioned to set up a business that put its clients’ wealth at the heart of everything it does – a company that would grow based on word-of-mouth and recommendations.

And today, with a team of 15 staff and an asset portfolio worth over £115 million, there’s no doubt he’s achieved that. So, what’s the key to Wealth of Advice’s success?

Chris, who grew up in Peterlee and now lives in Trimdon, says: “I think what appealed to my clients was my no-nonsense approach – I was upfront and honest with them right from the word go and offered them advice based on what was best for them, not Wealth of Advice.

“You could say we were the ‘caring arm around their shoulders’.

“Quite quickly, referrals increased and we were getting more people coming to us for advice. In most cases we’d been recommended to them by people who had become clients and were really pleased with the service they received from us.

“From nothing, our portfolio quickly increased and as it did, so did the team.”

Wealth of Advice is very much a family business – alongside Chris, employees include his wife Jodene, his sister Deborah and nieces Aimee and Abbie, both of whom graduated from Northumbria University and joined the firm to embark on being trained into their current roles.

The company is based at Swale House on Mandale Business Park in Belmont – with Chris resisting the urge to relocate to Newcastle, the financial heart of the North East.

He believes he can achieve everything he wants to from his central Durham location and is proud to be part of a city that is so buoyant and successful.

“I’ve worked in Newcastle and other big cities and it wasn’t for me. I also didn’t really like the way the sector was perceived – the working demographic is sometimes regarded as quite stuffy and elitist, and that was something I wanted to change.

“It was with all of that in mind that I decided that Durham was the right place for us. It’s such a great location for many reasons and I am proud that we’re growing here. For me it’s the perfect city.

“Our set up is deliberately different – rather than the goal being to get people to come to us no matter what, instead our approach is with a bias to the individual rather than the business – we only take on a client if it is in their interests and I believe we can make them money. If I don’t think that is likely, or it isn’t the right time for them to transfer their assets to us, that’s what we advise.

“I know that might sound strange for a business owner to say – surely you want as much business as possible? But for me, I felt that the best way to grow the business was with honesty and integrity at its core. I want people to recommend us because of the service they get – for me that’s the best marketing tool available to any business regardless of their size or sector.”

Moving into year eight of trading, Wealth of Advice shows no signs of slowing down – in fact in the months since stepping up profiling activity, the company has attracted several new clients and is also in the process of rolling out it services to employees at some of the biggest companies in the area.

So, what next for Chris?

“We’re gradually increasing our public profile and are in the process of pulling together an ambitious marketing strategy which involves mainstream radio and television advertising, targeted digital marketing and regional and trade press profiling, he says.

“I want to drive forward our growth and know that with the right sort of activity and visibility, we can achieve our aim of doubling our asset management portfolio within the next year.

“I feel very privileged that after just eight years of running Wealth of Advice, which was started with nothing, we’re in such a strong position and am very excited to see what the future holds.”

Wealth of Advice
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