You don’t naturally associate the measured persona of an independent financial advisor with the excesses of the music industry. But after 15 years at the helm of his own consultancy, former singer-songwriter Mike Oliver’s transformation from big-haired pop rocker to a reliable, respected personal finance manager is undeniably complete.
The Haywards Heath IFA is celebrating a milestone year, which coincides with Mike Oliver Associate’s acquisition of family-run independent mortgage advisory service Chase Mortgages.
Mike has also just been presented with a Community Service Award for raising thousands of pounds for local charities.
It’s a far cry from the seven years Geordie-born Mike spent in the late 1980s behind a keyboard, achieving local radio airplay with his rock band One Two XL. “It was pop rock – big hair, chinos, white shirts and braces,” he recalls. Having failed to hit the big time by the end of the decade, though, he swapped his boy band wardrobe for smart suits and ties and retrained as an independent financial adviser (IFA).
Mike climbed the career ladder throughout the 1990s, eventually managing 22 offices as Regional Sales Director for Mortgages Direct. He also made a contract with himself – that he would create and run his own business by the time he was 40. He hit his target just nine days shy of his 41st birthday.
Mike Oliver Associates set about building a particular brand of financial advice – one that operated on a fixed-price retainer, allowing it to give individuals impartial advice for adding value to the family’s assets over the long-term. It now helps private clients and commercial organisations across the South East to achieve their financial aspirations.
“We don’t see ourselves as classic wealth managers in that we look after more than just investments,” says Mike. “We’re with our clients for the whole of their financial journey through life and ready to help through all the life-changing moments that have an impact on those finances – marriage, birth, divorce, illness, retirement and death. It’s a great privilege getting to know clients that well.”
The company offers unbiased advice on products across the market and is directly authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Mike Oliver Associates offer a friendly drop-in service or home or office visits, advising clients on a wide range of financial services: estate planning, mortgage advice, buildings and contents cover, equity release, savings, pensions, asset protection, later life advice, investments and taxation planning, working with a network of carefully selected specialist associates.
“We are a one-stop shop for financial services and people really like that,” said Mike. “Knowing you have to organise life insurance or a pension can be a bit of a daunting chore. We not only gain a full understanding of a person’s personal finances, but help them build a path to realising their dreams and ambitions – then it all becomes so much more interesting for them! We can take away the pain and can introduce them to financial gain. Being completely independent means we’ll only ever work on behalf of the client to build a bespoke, affordable package tailored to their needs. Clients can pop in or call for a confidential chat anytime; we explain things in a way they understand, enabling them to make informed decisions, and we offer ongoing support with our review service. Helping them with important life decisions is very rewarding.” says Mike, who outside the office is known for his unstinting support for local charities. He was recently presented with a special award from Haywards Heath Town Council for services to the community by the High Sheriff of West Sussex, Mark Spofforth.
“As I’ve gone through life, my own goals have changed – from musician to IFA, employee to running my own business. But I think those experiences help me identify better with the changes in my clients’ lives. I understand that their needs and objectives will also change. We all require different financial advice for different life stages – whether we are buying a house, needing help with investment, pensions or estate planning.”
Running the company has not been without its ups and downs – mortgage business decreased by two thirds after the 2008 credit crunch. Like his transformation from rock musician to IFA, Mike had to reinvent the business, deciding on a departmental approach with advisers focusing on different customers’ life stages and needs. The reinvention brought success, winning Mike Oliver Associates the Sesame Network Firm of the Year Award in 2012 from the UK’s largest and longest established adviser network.
Their higher profile and reputation attracted attention, including that of local, privately owned firm Chase Mortgages, whose proprietors had built the business from scratch and were now looking to retire.
“Although we acquired Chase, they actually chose us,” Mike said. “They were naturally cautious about handing over their clients, many of whom had become friends, to another broker. They were concerned about their integrity and had vetted a number of firms before we were referred to them. They felt we were the right fit to communicate and look after their valued clients. Their clients trusted their advice implicitly and we were able to not only pick up the baton of trust, but provide a wider financial service under one roof.
“Although we’re celebrating 15 years in business with the acquisition of Chase Mortgages and launched a new ‘Protection’ department, we’ve been too busy to celebrate so far!”
Visit Mike Oliver Associates online at: www.moaifa.co.uk