At Perfect Layout Digital Marketing we like to talk to business owners to find out about their business. The aim is to learn and share with you the personal experiences of these business owners. What is working for them and what they have learned do differently.
We believe that sharing knowledge is a great way to help other businesses develop. We are passionate about promoting the awesome, creative and varied companies that exist not only in our area, but also beyond.
Read our interview here with Marc Denton a Wealth and Tax Planner at Wow based in Andover in Hampshire.
Tell us a bit about you?
Personally, I am married and have a baby boy which has been an amazing experience. I’m a big sports fan and regular exerciser, which I love as it is a great de-stress.
Professionally, I started my career in the fitness industry and after 10 years in the industry I was looking for a change. I ended up spending the summer at a friend’s house who was working for RBS working on property deals in London. I found it interesting and started chatting with him and then going to commercial property auctions. Meeting with investors and getting to know them enabled me to see what they were purchasing and how their finances were being structured. I then went on to become a mortgage advisor by completing the CeMAP training. This was in 2006 and then the crash came…
I love the name Wow, do you know why the company was named this?
The three founders of the company were college friends. They knew that accounting, tax and wealth management was always presented in a dull and confusing way. Most people switch off when you talk to them about these matters. They had a vision that it could be done differently and that it really was an amazing industry to be in. They started with a small office in Andover looking over a train line, presenting information to clients in a language that was easy to understand and this started gaining momentum in their business. Today it has a team of 30 staff, all with an ethics and principles that really help clients.
What else makes you stand out from other Financial Planners / Accountants?
Our passion for helping people become financially free. For me it’s about bringing money to life and creating passive income for my clients, they shouldn’t need to engage with a professional and end up having to do more work themselves. Anyone can read and recite technical details but having a grasp on what clients benefit from is a whole different ball game, and that’s what we pride ourselves on.
Across the company the level of service and the duty of care we give is above and beyond and we monitor this closely. We look at clients for the long term, it doesn’t work if you just continue to provide ad hoc work. Life and business is fluid and at a moment’s notice the landscape can change, we adapt the services and advice we offer in a timely fashion to suit the situation at hand.
Importantly on the financial planning side of the business we look at how to set up and monitor passive income, I like to design wealth so that it does not involve my clients having to complete extra work, more paper work or deal with additional stress, so as to add any additional time needed to make decisions as all that dramatically reduces the chance of achieving the goals because you simply become too “busy”.
I’ve worked, studied and been mentored by a number of millionaires over the last 13 years and developed a system that is really powerful for creating financial freedom, for some people that is money in the bank, and for others it's about having more time to spend with family and not worry about money.
What type of companies do you help? Give us some examples
We look for companies and business owners that are open to engaging and working together not just on the business but on their personal situation also, receiving the advice that we offer. We typically work with businesses with up to a turnover of £5 million. Any client with more than that, we would recommend to another trusted contact.
We have a large section of digital agencies which grew organically. These businesses are creative and have a lot of energy, and over time, we gained market leading expertise that helped their particular needs.
We also complete lots of self-assessment and tax work for the company directors and some sole traders. Whilst directors are able to grasp their business financially, the challenge for them is how to grow their personal wealth at the same time.
We get a lot of referrals from estate agents, solicitors, and other accountants and we have great working relationships with these other professionals.
I also personally have a passion for helping couples who are separating. I financial mediate alongside solicitors and help them sort out their finances. The process helps them understand mortgage needs (what can they borrow individually moving forward) and cash flow forecasting for the future, along with complex pension issues. This service provides them with fantastic clarity around what their finances will look like after they split.
Why is financial planning so important?
It’s one of those things where transparency and trust is so important, being in control of your finances is a must these days more than ever. Everyone should be looking at ways of becoming financially free, this can mean different things to different people for instance some people want money in the bank, for others they are looking to spend more time with their family. Once you have a hold on your finances you can manage the rest of your life so much easier. We help our clients look ahead to the next 5, 10 and 20 years. What is their earning potential and where will they be? Our cashflow forecaster provides is an excellent tool.
Sadly, our education system doesn’t teach us how to handle money and financial decisions. It’s life circumstances that teaches you these lessons, and sometimes these can be very painful lessons.
When you hire a financial and tax planner, how does it work? Is it a one-off assessment or do you continue working with people on their journey?
It can be a combination. For some clients they will want a clear picture on their current financial situation. People see money coming in/out and think they are OK. In that instance we provide snapshots of where they are and where they are going, for some people that is all they want to start with.
For others they may engage with us to help them plan for the future, either looking at their pensions or investments, setting up strategies or problem solving, and it is these long term clients that benefit most from our advice.
You wouldn’t not check your insurances each year and look for the best deal on the market, yet people happily leave their investments untouched for years without checking on their performance. This mindset needs to change.
It is expensive to hire a Financial Advisor?
The benefits of having a good financial planner should always outweigh any costs associated with it, the client should always be in a better position or be making more from the service than the adviser, so it will never become expensive as it pays for itself.
Our work is carried in a number of ways, we can work on an hourly basis and work within the budget of the individual/company. For some people they may want some advice around tax decisions such as paying into pension vs paying a chunk off the mortgage.
If you want us to invest your money, typically the fees come from the investments themselves therefore making it performance related.
If investments are doing well everyone earns more, but if they don’t perform then we work very hard to turn things around. It is in our interest to make sure our clients’ portfolio performs. We will have a written agreement beforehand explaining our fees and the value proposition of the work that we are doing.
Since 2006, I have advised a number of people who gone on to become financially free. This has been achieved in the financial clarity that we gave them. This provided them with the space to get on with their businesses.
What advice would you give someone unsure about their finances?
To face the initial fear and book a meeting with someone. Most financial advisors will do a fact-finding meeting free of charge and offer you a detailed explanation of their services, just be really clear on how they could help you and what you need from working together.
Also, don’t feel that you need to hire the first company you meet with. Go and meet with 3-4 companies/individuals and ask to speak with some of their clients. Get a real feel about who they are and who you feel most comfortable with. This is an important decision to get right and you are going to need to really trust them with your hard-earned money.
How does Wow find new clients?
Most of our clients come organically from the accountancy side of the business. We also get referrals from law firms, estate agents, other accountancy practices and existing clients.
I have also written for investment publications such as What Investment, Financial Advisor, and City Wire magazines, and undertaken radio interviews which helps bring clients our way.
Is there anything else that Wow offers?
Yes, I also provide mental health talks for companies in the South of England. There are a lot of financial triggers that lead to doubts and stress in people’s mind. A good friend of mine has been through the mill and started speaking about his illness.
More and more his audience was asking about financials so we got together and now have both of us speak. We go into companies and present then discuss further with individuals, the highlight was a talk we presented to Microsoft UK a few weeks ago.
Every year at Wow we undertake a BenchPress Survey that goes out to all agency owners. It is the largest survey of UK agencies. Here they can compare their own business and track against what others are doing.
They can see how companies are growing; how people promote the culture in their business; how cash flow is working and what their worries are.
Off the back of this, we produce additional webinars on the findings and push this across our social media channels. Our marketing department takes care all this and our dynamic website with lots of helpful articles and videos too.
What are the ambitions for Wow in the next 5 years?
To continue to grow, it’s an ever-evolving discussion and we are engaging all employees so it’s not just a top down approach.
You mentioned to me that you have some other projects too, tell me more about them?
I have two new opportunities in the pipeline.
In 2009 I started a property fund. In the last two years, I found more people are looking for more secure returns on their investments. With the recent changes in tax legislation, mortgage interest relief being pulled and the stamp duty on buy-to-lets this option is not as attractive as it once was.
I have a fund where Ltd companies and those with over £100k can invest. It is a secured fund that produces solid returns for investors.
I am also working on Liberty Investments; this is socially responsible investment platform for conscious investors. We are working with a fund manager who is one of the leading ethical managers in the country.
The platform helps investors to avoid companies that are investing in fracking, tobacco and other industries that they may not want to be affiliated with and will be open to all investors, its designed for those already making conscious choices in their life such as reducing plastic, organic foods etc.
Who inspires you?
On a daily basis, my son. I want to build a better future for him and surroundings that he can be proud of.
Around money management - Warren Buffet and Earl Nightingale. For mindset and energy - Tony Robbins, T Harv Ecker, Zig Ziglar and Alex Mandossian to name a few that your mind have heard of.
Can you recommend any good books you have been reading?
Yes, I really enjoyed these books:
Legacy by James Kerr
Socratic Selling by Kevin Daily
Grinding it Out by Ray Kroc
Sales Mind by Helen Kensett
Thank you for a really insightful interview. It was great to get to know more about you, Wow and the projects that you are working on. Do you have any closing thoughts that you would like to share?
Here is a thought I like to remind myself of daily.
I won’t get where I need to be unless I help others get where they need to be.
With this mindset everyone wins. This is dispelling the old myths on Financial Advisors who may have been perceived to take people’s money and do what they want with it, whether it benefits the clients or not. Independent Financial Advisors can help run and manage your finances, whilst you get the education that you need to be confident to do it yourself.
If you would like to contact Marc about for finances and tax planning email him at: email@example.com
Connect with Marc on LinkedIn
If you have a business that you would like to feature in this regular slot, why not get in touch? We’d love to hear from you!