Wow…it’s been 15 years!

18th August 2017

When I look back 15 years since the launch of the original Fortitude Financial Planning, I am amazed and proud of the business we have built.

It was a sunny day in August 2002.  Mark and I met (with Paul who has since departed) to discuss establishing our own business.  We were excited as to what we could achieve but also apprehensive.

At the time, my wife and I had a young family with 2 children (my youngest was only 3 months old).  Davina suggested that me wanting to leave employment with an Accountancy firm, giving up a ‘secure’ salary, was very risky.  Nevertheless we took the plunge ….only time would tell whether or not it was the right decision.

In those days commission was the standard payment method for almost all Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) businesses, necessitating the sale of a financial product. Some would argue this encouraged the mis-selling scandals with which we are all familiar.  Businesses that charged fees were rare.

IFAs, however, were able to provide significant value to their clients in the days when internet capability was limited and the choice of products and providers was extensive. We probably all find it difficult to recollect the days when we did not have access to a world of information at the touch of a button.

My sons are now both over 6 feet tall; Luke, a typical teenager stuck in his room with GCSEs on the near horizon and Daniel, an uncertain semi-adult looking at A levels and university with increasing trepidation.

There have been other huge changes over that long period.  It is only in looking back that we can really appreciate the world we then lived in:

  • A new Blackberry phone cost £250 (about the same as the iPhone introduced in 2007)
  • Blockbuster (Video Rental) was a $5.5bn business
  • A basic computer cost £1,500
  • People used internet cafes
  • A pint of beer cost £2.00
  • The FTSE 100 stood at 3940
  • The £ sterling bought $1.60
  • Nobody had access to the internet in their pocket 24/7

The big things that stand out to me on this list are inflation and investments; inflation has averaged 2.9% p.a. (so the £2.00 pint should now cost £3.08) but the FTSE has risen by an average of 5.2% p.a. (including dividends) despite several much publicised falls (including 20% in 2002, 40% in 2007/08, 15% in 2010, 2011 and 2015).

When we met Neil and Helen (in 2005) they had already been running a “new model” fee based Financial Planning business since 1997.  From them we learned the many ways clients can benefit from a comprehensive Financial Planning process.  This motivated me to attain my Certified Financial PlannerTM (CFPTM) qualification in 2006. It was a big challenge, but one that gave me some real “lightbulb moments” – in particular the power of Lifetime Cashflow models. As a result we made fundamental changes to the way that we work.

Fortitude has continued to move forwards, always striving to deliver better outcomes for our clients.  We now have 10 team members and have increased the number of clients that we look after.  We aim to deliver great financial planning to every one of our clients, each and every time.

Our clients tell us that the value we provide is helping them to feel comfortable and in control; confident that they have ‘enough’  to live the life they want today and in the future.

As for me and my family, we are really pleased we made the leap and we’ve rarely looked back.  I have a desire to help people and it is in Financial Planning that I can live out my purpose.

Chris