FP PHOTO

Sesame Bankhall hires new MD to drive digital services

Adviser network Sesame Bankhall Group has appointed Richard Howells as managing director of Sesame Network to help drive growth in digital services.

Mr Howells has a long track record in the financial and intermediary sector, including Zurich Financial Services and Berkeley Independent Advisers.

In his new role he will report to group managing director, Martin Schultheiss. He will take up his new role at the beginning of April, joining the executive team.

Mr Howells has 20 years’ industry experience in a range of executive roles. He was most recently director of insurance wealth life & pensions at Experian.

Prior to this he spent spent seven years at Zurich Financial Services as UK intermediary sales director. Other senior roles include managing director of strategy & development at Bankhall, along with chief executive of Berkeley Independent Advisers.

Mr Schultheiss said: “Richard’s industry background is ideal for us, combining a successful financial advisory track record in executive roles, with recent years spent working on disruptive digital engagement strategies.

“Richard will bring fresh thinking to our future plans, helping to ensure our members compete successfully in a digital world. Our group is investing in a range of exciting new services that will be built with advisers, for advisers, and with a clear focus on the delivery of great service and good customer outcomes.”

Mr Howells said: “SBG is investing heavily in the future of professional advice and there are exciting times ahead for its members. I can’t wait to start working with the team to help strengthen our member relationships further, and develop a new range of compelling propositions, as well as ensuring that Sesame champions the valuable service delivered to customers by its mortgage and protection firms.”

Sesame has one of the UK’s largest appointed representative networks and its Bankhall arm supports adviser firms directly regulated by the FCA.

FP PHOTO

Sam Sloma: Two must-reads for financial planners

If you had told me 10 years ago that not only would I be a chartered financial planner but that I would enjoy it so much I would be reading about the “science” of retirement and the “new retire-mentality” in my spare time, I reckon I would have asked you to kill me.

But it seems the lifestyle planning element has ignited a spark within me and, once the passion for what you do kicks in, you just want to learn as much as you can.

I have just finished The New Retire-mentality by Mitch Anthony, who spoke last month at Paul Armson’s BACK2Y conference. I saw Anthony speak last year and he was fantastic.

The crux of the book is that retirement should not have to mean stopping work and switching off one’s brain. In fact, there is plenty of evidence to support the idea that doing so has a negative impact on your life.

Advances in medicine and healthy lifestyles mean people are living longer and are far more able to work until they feel they cannot or do not want to.

The internet and progression in human connectivity have also meant that, instead of putting a finite date on one’s working life, it is now easier for people to phase the slowdown, to start new businesses or follow passions in their spare time.

Traditional ideas of retirement are changing and there is an element of responsibility on planners to make sure retirees understand they have options. It was an enjoyable, easy read and I would give it an eight out of 10.

The second book I want to recommend is Start with Why by Simon Sinek. While not specific to financial services, it is a brilliant book about understanding the “why” within your business.

Understanding why the business exists provides a fundamental foundation to build on, of which you only realise the importance once you have found it. Sinek gives numerous examples of business leaders, including high-profile chief executives such as Apple’s Steve Jobs, who have started with why, and how it leads to repeated success.

It is not difficult for a business to explain what it does and it is also fairly easy (though possibly more technical) to explain how it does it.

But very few businesses can clearly articulate their why. Why is it not about financial assets or profits? Why does your business exist? Why does it do the things it does? Why do customers really choose one company over another? Why are consumers loyal to some businesses, but not others?

Starting with why works across businesses of all sizes and across all industries. Those that start with why are more likely to achieve the consumer behaviour they desire through inspiration. And the people who follow them do not do so because they have to; they follow because they want to.

Now, the comparison between companies like Apple and a local financial planning business is not really a fair one. However, it does not mean we cannot learn lessons from these successful businesses. It is a huge asset to be able to look at your business from the ground up and have everything aligned to your why.

Start with Why is a bestseller and for anyone looking at starting their own business, I would say it is a must-read. I give it a solid nine out of 10.

Sam Sloma is Managing Director at Engage Financial Services