I write this case study as a franchisee and also as the Managing Director of ‘TaxAssist Financial Services’.
My career began in a small firm of accountants in 1994 where I studied ATT and after 8 years working in Accountancy/Tax, I moved into Wealth Management with Brewin Dolphin, took some stockbroking exams and then qualified as a financial planner with St James’s Place. At SJP I had to get my own clients fast and this was a challenge especially since I was starting from scratch.
Building on my prior accountancy experience, my suspicion was that accountancy practices would contain a huge untapped base of financial planning clients, enabling me to gain access to clients but also offer clients a fully rounded service - something that they don’t normally get from a small accountancy practice.
During my search for a suitable accountancy business, I came across TaxAssist and met with the TaxAssist Group Directors. It quickly became apparent that they had also recognised the need for a TaxAssist financial planning offering. Something tailored to meet business owners' needs that would be open to all TaxAssist clients and, in turn, would benefit franchisees.
Within a few months, an opportunity arose as the TaxAssist Hove franchise became available. I took this chance and took the business over on 6th April 2020 – right at the start of lockdown! However, the added benefit, was that it gave me the opportunity to prove the concept of combined accounting and financial planning services ahead of any network wide financial services launch.
Then, in May 2021, the green light was given to set up a TaxAssist financial planning business. This would help clients organise their financial affairs in a more productive fashion aligned to their goals and circumstances and provide franchisees with a range of new services and income streams.
Fast forward to 2023, this service has been fully launched and now includes:
- Insurance products to protect individuals and their businesses. The self-employed do not have many of the benefits employees of large organisations have. Even our larger corporate clients need protection from certain risks including key man risks and group policies for their employees. Some insurances are very tax efficient and will be attractive to many.
- Mortgages – although we cover all mortgage types, our goal is to become a specialist in self-employed mortgages helping clients on to the property ladder and getting them better deals.
- Investments and pensions – We advise on a range of investment solutions to help clients save for their goals and retirement. Our solutions are based on clients goals and risk appetite and take into account personal preferences such as environmental sustainability.
- Estate planning – While many tax advisers can calculate inheritance tax, saving inheritance tax often requires access to FCA regulated investments and insurances. Offering this as a joined up service with TaxAssist Tax Consulting puts us one-step ahead of our competition.
The benefits to franchisees are three-fold:
- Existing clients will benefit from a joined-up service that reflects the franchisee and the brand and we expect this to improve customer loyalty. Franchisees can track referred cases through our new introducer portal.
- A share of the fees and commissions – this applies to all fees and includes a generous commission generated for the lifetime of a client’s involvement with TaxAssist Financial Services – not just the initial commission typically shared by financial advisers.
- New business will be attracted to TaxAssist Accountants specifically for the joint offering. Indeed, some clients may just initially come to us for financial planning but will then require accounting services as well.
Running two businesses at once
As you can imagine, TaxAssist Financial Services has kept me busy as the full time Managing Director with a team of mortgage and protection advisers, marketing team and independent financial advisers who are dedicated to the TaxAssist network. I now employ a full-time manager/partner to run my TaxAssist Accountants franchise in Hove, so I can dedicate my time to Financial Services.
Despite doing both, my practice has grown well and we have almost doubled the fee bank since April 2020. Part of this success is down to correcting and raising fees. When I started, many of the fees hadn’t been reviewed for 10 years, yet costs for the business had naturally risen over that time period. After much analysis and competitor research in the local area, I raised the fees by 30% on average without loss of clients. I’ve set my team a target of £500k turnover by year 5 and £1M by year 10. I was going to caveat that with the words ‘might be a tall order’ but I actually think it’s highly possible.
We are also practicing what I preach and trying everything out from a financial services perspective. We put a digital screen in the shop window and I’m about to try running a mix of accountancy and financial services adverts in my local area. I truly believe franchisees can expect to increase profits dramatically over a period of time as ongoing advice fees compound. Not that I’m thinking of selling in the next 5 years, but that recurring income stream should add significantly to franchise resale value based on standard Independent Financial Adviser fee bank multiples.