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28 (123) 2017
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Poles in the UK

Case studies of BPCC’s UK-based members

With Sebastian Fuz, director of CCFS
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City & Country Financial Services (CCFS)

Set up by our managing director, Lina Bourdon, in March 2008,  we’re an independent financial advisor (IFA) and believe that our job is to discover our clients` lifetime goals, plans and aspirations to help them make their dreams come true using financial planning tools, solutions and strategies.

Working within the financial sector our main areas of expertise are mortgages, insurance mediation, and financial advice covering pensions, investment and savings. To complement this, we have a will writing arm offering wills, lasting powers of attorney, funeral plans and probate & estate management.

We offer a personal service working face to face with our clients, most of which are from London and the surrounding areas. It is important for us to get to know our clients and what they want long term so we can plan and provide products and services for their future.  

For the first five years, the company operated from a small North London office in Whetstone but soon realised we had to be more conveniently located for our clients, so moved to Central London, initially in Marylebone and then to Fleet Street where we are now.

Moving to Marylebone was an important change for us as it meant most clients could come to our office rather than us having to travel to them. We wouldn’t have moved from Marylebone had it not been for the unsustainable rent and rate increases imposed on us!

Moving office was indeed a huge challenge and added a sizeable burden given both directors were active IFAs with full and extremely busy daily lives and diaries. Although nowhere near as big a problem as when I initially became an adviser which was at the beginning of the financial crisis when the Northern Rock bank collapsed, and the repercussions negatively affected the entire financial industry.

We survived this difficult period and we continue to go from strength to strength and moving office was an unavoidable and essential step.  Moving office is so much more involved than moving house. First we had to find quality premises that would provide us the means to expand and that were within budget. And that was nowhere near as simple as it sounds!  We were shown many unsuitable offices, many tiny low-budget offices and others much better located but well over budget. Having added two people to our admin team as well as another two mortgage brokers, we were in need of an office that could cater for seven people. We had to find an office which was not only convenient for our clients but our staff too, given that each employee lives in a different part of London. This meant the only perfect location was right in the centre of London!

Then things got worse. I to severely ruptured my Achilles tendon playing football and needed surgery. I was sidelined for few weeks which made finding offices much more difficult. Being determined to find a suitable solution and working mostly from home, I managed to find the perfect office in the heart of the City of London.

Our new prestigious office is in a fantastic location with plenty of extra facilities we could hardly have dreamed of, such as a coffee shop, gym and plenty of different-sized meeting rooms. We are now based in Fleet Street occupying the office formerly used by the Sun newspaper. We moved there in July 2016 finally closing the door to our Marylebone office. There was much to be done such as sorting out the IT and phone systems, as well assembling the new furniture to name but a few.   However the furniture didn’t arrive on time so we had to borrow some tables, the IT systems didn’t work initially and we had problems with mobile phone signals. But we all worked tirelessly as a team to sort everything out while at the same time we were meeting new clients as well as looking after existing ones. For the first couple of weeks I was still hobbling about on crutches but coming to the office was a pleasure seeing all we had achieved. It was task and a half but looking back it was most definitely worth it!

The last 24 months have been challenging for me but as always I got through them, not only increasing sales but also expanding the company and increasing our head count. We really do work well as a team dealing with whatever gets put in front of us.

I’m proud that I’ve been instrumental in helping the company’s sales grow by around 20% year on year, with an admin team which can handle the research and paperwork, freeing us up to spend more time with clients and find new ones. These really are exciting times and I am really looking forward to see what 2017 holds! I’m sure there will be many challenges ahead and as my mentor says “challenges just become bigger as your company becomes bigger” but I’m confident we’ll be able to tackle them together as a team.

We pride ourselves on our expertise and our holistic approach to our clients. Recently we worked with a married couple with a son, who have their own construction business as well as owning a number of buy-to-let properties. We started looking after their financial affairs in 2015, beginning with a full protection package to ensure they had money coming in should they become sick or die. We looked at some essential insurances for their business where the costs could be paid for by their company. I organised their pensions as well as moving their existing savings into a more tax efficient environment using ISA wrappers. I was then asked to provide a savings plan for the education of their child and finally to provide wills for them both.

As clients heavily involved in the property market we recently helped them establish a limited company purely investing in property. These kinds of cases are ideal for us as we help each client move forward with their financial planning year on year.

As I was once told: “you can divorce your partner but never divorce your financial adviser”!

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