We understand it can be daunting reaching out to a financial professional. To ease any worries you may have, we’ve answered some of the questions we often get asked below. We hope you find this helpful.
What makes you different?
As a family-run practice, we have offered a friendly, professional, client advisory service since 1978. Started by John Hitchell and now run by his two sons, James and Richard. Our ethos is that we treat clients like family, and always try to go the ‘extra mile’. Our clients also tell us they are looking for consistency, and being younger than the average advisers in the UK, appreciate the focus on building a long-term professional relationship.
Where are meetings held?
Meetings can be held in our Tunbridge Wells, which you can find full details for on our contact page. We provide tea or coffee, and there might even be some biscuits. If you prefer, we can also visit you at your home or office, providing there is a private room available.
We also use meeting rooms at Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, in London.
At present, it isn't possible to meet face-to-face and so we use Microsoft Teams to hold virtual meetings. We will review this and follow updated government guidelines as they are published.
Do you have parking?
Yes, please let us know if you would like us to reserve a car parking space for you when you visit the office.
Are you close to the train station?
Yes, we are a very short walk away from Tunbridge Wells station, with regular trains from Charing Cross and Cannon Street.
Do I need to bring anything to our first meeting?
The discovery meeting is about getting to know each other, your story and what you want the next chapter to look like. Having details of existing pensions, investments and protection plans is helpful, but it’s not essential.
Do I have to pay for an initial meeting?
No, the initial discovery meeting is at our expense. We won’t charge you to simply find out if we can help you. The initial meeting is a chance for us to see if we can add value based on your circumstances, and for both of us to get to know each other better.
How can I book an initial meeting?
You can either phone us on (01892) 532700, email firstname.lastname@example.org or fill out our contact form. You can also use Richards Microsoft bookings page to select your preferred meeting time. If you call and an adviser isn't available for an initial chat, please leave a message and we will call you back as soon as we’re able.
Are you independent?
No, we choose to be part of Openwork, an award-winning financial network providing us access to the services we need to run our business, as such we are 'restricted' advisers.
Openwork provides a meticulously researched and managed panel of investments and products specifically selected to meet our clients’ needs. Each of these solutions is only introduced to our panel once extensive due diligence has been completed and is removed if strict criteria isn't maintained.
It is important to understand that both independent or restricted advisers cannot be incentivised to recommend one product over another and we both charge fees for providing advice. Therefore, you can be confident our advice is impartial and being restricted allows us to focus our attention on what we feel really matters to our clients - the quality of advice.
Are restricted advisers less qualified than independent?
No, regardless of which type of advice you choose, all financial advisers must have obtained a recognised 'Level 4' qualification, which takes around a year to obtain via examinations for new advisers. Both James and Richard have exceeded this requirement and are Chartered Financial Planners, considered to be the 'gold standard' qualification for financial advice.
What is a 'Chartered Financial Planner'?
The Chartered Financial Planner logo signifies that an individual has committed to the highest levels of technical and professional knowledge and competence through professional qualifications, keeping knowledge and skills up-to-date through continuing professional development and ethical conduct through adhering to an industry Code of Ethics enforced through disciplinary sanctions. James and Richard are both chartered financial planners, considered recognition of a 'gold standard' of advice.
How do decide which funds you will recommend?
Unlike many, we freely admit that no-one knows which fund managers will turn out to be the most effective over the years – and, if we were to employ our own fund managers to manage individual funds, it’s unlikely that they would be the best in the business at all times.
So rather than manage the assets ourselves, we have a team of extremely powerful and experienced investment professionals whose job is to identify and hold to account some of the best fund managers in the market. And if any of those fund managers stop delivering to our requirements, we replace them with those who can.
This recommended fund list is compiled and updated by the Openwork Investment Committee. They are supported in this by authoritative investment research and analysis from Morningstar and Mercers.
This list includes dozens of leading companies offering both active and passive funds. We also offer a range of funds with a focus on Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG), carefully considering the sustainability and societal impact of an investment.
Are you regulated?
Yes, we are an appointed representative of Openwork Limited which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). You can find our entry on the FCA register by clicking here.
What do you charge for a financial plan?
A full financial plan costs £995.
Do you receive commission?
We can only receive commission on arranging protection policies or mortgages, we work on a fee basis for other types of business such as pensions and investments. This will be discussed and agreed before commencing work.
Do you charge VAT?
No. The majority of the work we do is VAT exempt. The small element that is liable to VAT is below the total amount where we would have to register for, charge and pay VAT.
8 Lonsdale Gardens