Sedburgh School – Andrew Fleck, Headmaster
I think the starting point is that I am not interested in money, its management or amounts, just so long as I have enough to spend on things I want to do! I do not like the acronyms or the terminology associated with finance. And I resent the manner, as opposed to the amount, by which I am taxed.
It will be no surprise that I want matters made simple. Just ask me a question that demands a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer. There is no point me appointing a company to manage my finances if I ignore your advice. Therefore I expect you to embrace the moral responsibility for my future welfare as well as the legal responsibility to provide sound advice.
This is important because I make decisions on the basis of people, not the products which are offered. The relationship with Doug has grown and is an important part of the deal. I believe Doug will act in my best interests. I have also been impressed with your client management and feel that I have some relationship with other members of the team, but Doug is the core.
St Albans School – Andrew Grant – Headmaster
I am very happy, as an individual client, and also as a past Chairman of HMC (the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference) to contribute to your review.
From both of these perspectives, the overwhelmingly important value of the service provided by Affinity lies in their longstanding familiarity with, and understanding of, the Teachers’ Pension Scheme and, increasingly its relationship with HMRC and the implications of tax law as it relates to pension accrual and Lifetime Allowance.
This is an area that has been changing rapidly, apparently by stealth and without consultation, in a way that is simply not possible for the layman to master.
This area is now so complex that I can state with absolute confidence, backed up by documentary proof, that neither Teachers’ Pensions themselves, nor indeed HMRC have a complete grasp of it.
In my experience, Affinity’s technical expertise in this field is absolutely unique and runs ahead of that of HMRC and those who administer the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.
I would estimate that Affinity’s carefully tailored advice in structuring my own pension arrangements has saved me around £50,000 in lump sum and £5,000 p.a. in pension which would otherwise have gone to HMRC.
Wycombe Abbey School – John Luke, Bursar
When we met back in May I promised to let you have a note relating to the Pension INSETs which your team delivered at the start of the summer term. There were three INSETs, two for the teaching staff and one for the non-teaching staff, and I am delighted to report that all three were very favourably received.
Feedback from the teachers indicates that they found the content extremely informative and, indeed, they thought that INSETs were a great idea.
The non-teaching INSET was particularly successful. Out of 130 invites sent out, some 56 members of staff came to the meeting which was far more than we anticipated. As a result of the meeting a significant number of staff joined the scheme and the Q&A session following the presentation was much appreciated by many staff.
Overall this was an extremely positive exercise and I would be most grateful if you could pass on our belated, but nonetheless, genuine thanks to all thereof your team. We are most grateful.
Westminster School – Dr Stephen Spurr, Head Master
I am very happy to write a short review, since Affinity has made some excellent presentations to the teaching staff at both Westminster and Clifton, where I have served as Head Master, and provided valuable financial advice to me personally.
It is the personal touch that means so much, together with the skill in explaining financial planning, particularly pensions, in straightforward terms. For me and members of my staff, that is the secret of Affinity’s success.
Teaching is all about people, and we know that, while there are core principles relevant to all, all are also different. Thus Affinity’s individual approach strikes an important chord. Teachers do not enter the profession to become rich, nor do they appreciate cant. So the reassuring personal advice, which puts the client first, without any hint of financial mystification is very appealing.
The personal touch goes deeper: there is a real attempt to get to know the client, not in any intrusive sense in order to sell more policies, as some advisers do; but to enter into the spirit of the client and his or her family; and to understand their aims and then work with them to make it happen.
Finally, and more personally – being a Head Master can be lonely. You are always thinking about and helping others, and there is rarely anyone to help you. In particular, you are mostly concerned with the school’s finances, not your own. So it is really good to know that Affinity cares, is ‘on your side’. There is mutual trust. Of course one pays for the service, but there is a real sense in which the relationship transcends that.