This is a question we encounter a lot, particularly from clients who have been used to working with an IFA close to their home.
The answer is that it really depends on the individual’s needs – and where they live. Some wealth managers are based solely in London, others have a handful of offices in key locations and others still have very extensive office networks covering every region of the UK.
Places like Leeds, Manchester, Birmingham and Exeter (to name but a few) are well-known as wealth hotspots, meaning that most of the larger brands are represented there. Not only does this mean they are closer to their clients, but also that their advisers are well-plugged into the local business communities for the benefit of both sides.
That is not to say that our users always prefer to keep things local, however. For some, a London location is no barrier if they consider a firm to be the best for them. Once a relationship is progressing nicely, face-to-face meetings may be only once a year, with phone/online/mailed communications taking care of everything else. Many of our users in fact enjoy coming to the capital for initial meetings, or to the nearest big city branch of their wealth manager if they live out in the countryside.
If location is important to you, then our smart online toolwill make this a primary matching criterion, but it pays to keep an open mind on this. Many advisers are only too happy to travel to meet with their clients, for instance, and a city-based relationship might not entail as much travel as you think.
IFAs tend to emphasise their local presence, but you should question at what cost this comes. In our experience, IFAs can work out to be a more expensive option, since many are outsourcing managing investments to a larger firm and charging for advice on top of that.
Rather than “location, location, location”, it’s often better to think of our mantra: performance, costs and service.