How can advisers work with professional connections for the benefit of their business and their clients with tax mitigation requirements?
We asked Dominique Butters, Senior Business Development Manager at Blackfinch, industry veteran and specialist in tax-efficient investing.
How did you get into business development in financial services?
I started out at Lloyds Bank in 1989. I was an adviser there for ten years and then joined Towry Law as an adviser. After that I moved into business development at Clerical Medical with a focus on IHT planning through Trusts and then moved to a company specialising in tax efficient investments (a competitor of Blackfinch!). This means that I have worked for over fifteen years, building a specialism in tax efficient investing especially in Inheritance Tax (IHT) planning. I started at Blackfinch in 2016.
What’s your role at Blackfinch?
I’m focused on helping open up possibilities for advisers by working with them and their professional connections, including solicitors and accountants. We take a consultative approach, to help drive new income streams. Through this work, professional connections understand when they can refer clients to advisers. By working with advisers and their connections in this way we can help them to meet clients’ individual needs and it also helps to build even stronger relationships between advisers, their connections and their clients.
How did you get involved with the organisation?
Through losing business to Blackfinch! I was working somewhere else and lost a great deal of money, from a company that was usually a major supporter, in the space of one month. I called up my contact at the company and asked them how and why Blackfinch was managing to deliver better returns at lower costs. Once I’d completed my own due diligence on Blackfinch and found about more, I thought about it, discussed it with others and then decided to join them.
What appeals to you about Blackfinch’s product range?
I have to believe in a product in order to be able to promote it effectively. Blackfinch offers a good and wide range of products and services. There are plenty that I would (and have) invest in myself, and that would be useful to my friends and family (who have also invested!). Across the range, they’re strong on returns and the approach is transparent and excellent value for money.
I also like the fact that as a company we’re big enough to make an impact but small enough to be able to adapt. We can go the extra mile for clients because there aren’t any unwieldy processes holding us back. As an example, although we deal fortnightly in our IHT portfolios we can deal the same day if it’s important to get that two year clock starting as soon as possible – we want to help.
What are you currently working on or most excited about?
I’m excited about everything! But what I’m working on now is introducing our new Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS), the Blackfinch Ventures EIS Portfolios. They invest in the ‘knowledge-intensive’ companies the Government supports. As high-growth companies, alongside EIS tax benefits, investments made in the portfolios can bring significant return potential for investors, and Blackfinch co-invest too.
What are you most proud of in working with advisers?
The biggest thing for me has been opening up opportunities for advisers. It’s great when I meet people and present to them, and there’s that ‘light-bulb’ moment. An adviser might not have enough leads or clients and suddenly all the possibilities become apparent.
Similarly their professional connections will often say, “Wow, I didn’t know that!” They might not have realised all the ways in which a financial adviser could help their clients and what they should be looking out for. Having this knowledge means that everyone can provide a more rounded service to clients. It’s a positive situation, that can benefit advisers, professional connections and of course, clients.
Over the years, what are the biggest changes you have seen in the industry?
The increased regulation of advisers is one of the key changes. I was a financial adviser 15 years ago and I was drowning in paperwork then! And with so much extra workload and all the regulation has been brought in since, I know how hard it is for advisers just to keep up to date before they actually start seeing clients! I feel that the more that can be done to help advisers with this aspect of their work, the better.
What developments would you like to see in how advisers and providers work together?
Across the board, providers need to work much more collaboratively with advisers, and take on more of a consultative role. This is what we try and do: to really support advisers in the way that’s most helpful for them, including through opening up business opportunities, or providing training. It’s about what advisers need not what we want to promote!
Finally, as an IHT specialist, what are your top tips for IHT mitigation?
An old IFA colleague taught me a great question to ask clients when talking about IHT planning – “you can either try to beat it or meet it, which would you prefer?”. And generally people don’t want to meet it and pay HMRC all that money and would much prefer to choose where that tax liability goes…to their grandchildren perhaps or yes, pay it to the Government!
So, if you’re going to try and beat it then you can look at using trusts, gifts and/or Business Relief (BR) focused IHT solutions, which is what we do at Blackfinch. Where I find BR is useful to many clients is where they feel too ‘poor’ or too young to give money away or put it into a trust, because they don’t know what they may need yet themselves during their lifetime, as we are all living for so much longer. Long-term care and these costs are a real worry for many clients too. The big benefit with BR is that it is simply an investment. A client summarised it beautifully for me once, She said, “So if I need it, I’ve got access and if I don’t need it, it’s free of IHT?”
Another point which I find clients really like is that, when investing in BR plans, they are helping to support the UK economy by investing in companies that will create jobs and taxes. We wouldn’t get the relief if we weren’t – there are strict rules on what can benefit from BR. I think that’s a great thing for advisers to highlight to clients. The two-year timeframe is of course useful for those clients who feel they have left planning too late and don’t feel they can live for a full seven years but feel that two years is doable/worth a go.Blackfinch’s Adapt IHT range can help clients to mitigate Inheritance Tax by offering a more efficient route via Business Relief. Find out more HERE.
The Blackfinch Ventures EIS Portfolios offer EIS tax benefits alongside bringing significant return potential from investment in high-growth firms. Find out more HERE.
The Thrive Corporate Management Service can help businesses put surplus cash to work through lending activity and maintain attractive tax reliefs. Find out more HERE.
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All statements of opinion or views expressed within this article are that of the individual and may not reflect that of Blackfinch.