SAFE HANDS: How Active are keeping their clients happy during challenging times

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Trust is a big issue when it comes to deciding what to do with your finances, and never before has this been more prevalent than the current situation we all find ourselves in.

An existing pension portfolio or simply planning for retirement, managing your investments or saving from your hard earned wages – whatever your circumstances, it can be a brave step deciding ‘how’ to make your next financial move and ultimately ‘who’ to choose for that advice.

Teesside-based Active Chartered Financial Planners has been in business for 20 years and in that two decades, has built up a firm and very loyal client base.

And if you ask their clients what they think, several things quickly become clear. Trust, transparency and close communication coupled with a personal approach are what people value about Active, as well as the expert knowledge its team offers, naturally.

Many clients have been with the company or their adviser for many years, some going back to the late ‘80s, such is the value, service and advice they have been given over the years.

“It certainly felt that I needed someone I knew and I could trust to enact my pension plan,” said client Paul.

“The professional relationship with Active has excelled, my expectations have been exceeded because of the amount of clear information I have received from Active and the way that my investments have performed as well.”

“I am a firm believer in doing business with people you like and trust. They are always there at the end of a phone if I need any advice, or email etc. They always respond very positively and quickly to any concerns I have,” said client Gary (pictured top).

Established in 2000, the firm’s tagline is The Clear Advantage – leading the way in helping businesses and individuals to protect and grow their finances in a way that differentiates them from many in the industry.

It is an approach that has put multiple award-winning Active amongst the most well respected independent financial planning firms in the North-East.

Active holds the coveted chartered status, which denotes firms which are considered to be the ‘gold standard’ of financial planning.

Individuals holding chartered qualifications are the most qualified and experienced professionals in the sector and Active has eight chartered team members. This includes chartered financial planners, managers and a chartered director.

As this qualification is so prestigious, Active supports any team members wishing to pursue it, allowing the time and opportunity to reach the highest possible standard in their field.

“Trust is massive, it is for me. Once you sell a business, a lot of people approach you to invest and when you don’t know really what you are investing in, it can be a quite a scary process,” said Gary.

“With Active, they put everything to bed. We meet regularly, together with myself and my wife, and it’s a bit of a friendship thing as well.”

And from Paul? “I have always been wary of financial advisers, I knew when I was making a very, very important decision in my life coming up to retirement that I needed someone I knew and could trust to actually plan my finances for my later years,” he said.

Client Julie was planning for retirement when she contacted Active.

“I was pretty naïve about how and what financial planning advice was going to be,” she said.

“I’d never had it before. From the very first meeting I felt reassured he (Karl) had a good understanding of my needs.”

Jessica approached Active when she was looking for a mortgage. They helped her find one after she’d been told elsewhere it was something that wouldn’t be possible. A few years later, she was unfortunately diagnosed with cancer and had to take time off work for treatment.

Thanks to the plans she’d discussed with her financial adviser at Active, the advice included critical illness cover and it meant she could put the worry of paying it to the back of her mind and concentrate on getting better.

“The service I have received from Active was absolutely spot on, 100 per cent. I would definitely recommend Active Financial Planners because of my experience and because they are so personable,” she said.

Lockdown, of course, meant the Dukes Court, Thornaby-based business moved to a new way of working, like thousands of other businesses across the Tees Valley. The team adjusted quickly to working remotely, keeping in touch with clients – and each other – online and by telephone throughout, rather than the usual face-to-face service.

As lockdown easing began at the start of June, it moved quickly to put plans in place for a return to the office environment.

In line with the government guidance, staff were still encouraged to work from home but a rota system was planned to ensure a limited number could be in the office at any time when safe and if required.

The space was modified to enable social distancing and a log of visitors was set up to enable effective tracking and tracing, should it also be required.

The firm also invested in an NHS decontamination and sanitisation treatment for the building. The process, which coats all surfaces in a protective film, killing germs that touch it for up to six weeks, took two days to complete.

James Tapster, decontamination manager at NTH Solutions, said: “It is clear that Active Financial Planners has gone the extra mile to help staff return to work as safely as possible during the current climate.”

MD Karl has played an important role as chair of the Institute of Directors for our area, supporting many business leaders across the Tees Valley in identifying challenges, finding solutions and discussing ideas for getting the local economy back on its feet again.

“We have communicated regularly and continuously throughout this recent period, using all possible mediums available to us. Having that supportive and dynamic approach with everyone has made sure our clients, friends and colleagues know exactly what is happening every step of the way,” said Karl.

“Never before has a financial adviser had to prove their worth more than in the first six months of 2020. And maybe never before have our services been more relevant than right now too.

“We would encourage anyone whose financial objectives have changed during these challenging times to seek advice at their earliest opportunity. Just make sure it is from a reputable source.”