At Equilibrium, we have a fantastic team that works tirelessly to achieve the best results and provide the best service to our clients. We are very proud of the team we are building and wanted to let you find out a little more about our Advisers, including their role within the company and why they think Equilibrium is the right choice to make.
Today we speak to Andy Baker, Partner and Financial Planner, at Equilibrium to find out more about his role and why he decided to join the team:
Can you tell us a little about your background and experience in the wealth management profession?
I graduated from the University of Leicester in 2004 with a degree in Business Economics, which included a year spent abroad in Toulouse, France.
My first 'proper job' was a trade support role for Spectron commodity and energy brokers in London. It was a small company and an exciting place to be and pick up experience.
Between 2006 and 2009, I worked in custody banking; first for the Bank of New York and then for JP Morgan. I was a Client Manager managing the day-to-day relationships with fund manager clients.
In 2009, I moved to Equilibrium as I wanted to work with and help private clients. I started initially as work experience - which is where the nickname Andy Freeman came from! After a little while with the firm I became an Investment Analyst and then an Adviser. In 2014, I became a Partner.
What does your typical day's work involve?
I have an average of two client meetings each day. These are largely review meetings with existing clients, and I really enjoy building great relationships with them. The majority of meetings will involve obtaining an update on clients’ circumstances, discussing any changes to their investment portfolios and reviewing their financial plans and tax strategies.
I also meet with new or potential clients and such meetings will primarily involve getting to know them. At Equilibrium we really place emphasis on delivering a personalised service and so I spend a long time with clients getting to know their circumstances, and what they hope to achieve in the future.
Though client meetings typically take around an hour and a half, preparation for a meeting takes the same (or longer) so much of my time is spent preparing for meetings and thinking about how best to advise a client.
An important part of the job is staying up to date with tax and market information so I also spend a lot of time reading and on continued professional development.
What first attracted you to this profession?
I love working with numbers and find financial services interesting. Plus, I really enjoy dealing with people so it seemed like a good fit!
What do you enjoy most about your role?
Being able to help people is the most rewarding part of the job. If the work I do allows someone to retire two years earlier, travel to places they have always wanted to or help their children buy their first property then that provides real job satisfaction.
What are the most challenging aspects of your role?
Fitting everything I need to do into the working day!
What attracted you to work for Equilibrium?
The firm seemed to share my values, and I can definitely say that it has lived up to my expectations. Staff are enthusiastic, enjoy their work and do their best for the clients.
What do you think differentiates Equilibrium from other wealth management companies?
Whilst we are much bigger than we were when I joined 6 years ago (and as a result have improved in lots of ways) we are still small enough to enjoy the associated benefits. Ultimately, our aim continues to be building great personal relationships with our clients to allow us to have a proper understanding of their needs.
We are also small enough to be nimble and flexible when positioning our investment portfolio. For example, for almost all of 2012 we held little or no property in client portfolios. In 2013, however, we increased property exposure to around a third of portfolios. Larger investment managers are unable to alter asset allocation in this way because such large changes could cause liquidity issues for funds.
You often hear that scientists are looking for the circumstellar habitable or 'Goldilocks' zone where planets are in exactly the right place to support life. Perhaps Equilibrium is in the 'Goldilocks' zone for wealth management - not too big or too small!
We also pay more attention to tax planning than almost any other firm or adviser that I have come across. Why target high returns to then lose up to 40% of it in tax?! If you can get your tax planning right it provides you with the opportunity to take less risk with your investments to achieve the same result.
Why should potential clients choose Equilibrium?
Everything we do is with the sole aim of adding value for our clients. We believe that we are one of the few wealth management firms that truly offer discretionary (proactive) investment management, careful tax planning and financial planning.
By offering all three we are well placed to make sure that clients’ assets give returns at the right time for them, and if we can demonstrate this to clients it allows them to plan, spend and enjoy their money with confidence.
And finally... what do you like to do in your free time?
I have two girls - 18 months and 4 - so there isn't really such a thing as 'free time' right now(!) but I genuinely love to hang out with my family. If I do get a spare moment I enjoy running and going to the gym to keep myself active.