But financial planning was not Horner’s first profession, having initially chosen accounting as a school-leaver.
Horner’s higher education got off to an inauspicious start when he was arrested on his first his first day at Sheffield Hallam University for allegedly stealing a car.
“I was taken to Sheffield police station and the first call my dad got once I had left for university was from the police saying I had been arrested.”
As it turned out, the police got it very wrong as ownership of the vehicle was still in the process of being transferred to Horner’s name. “They were very apologetic when they found out what had happened. I later received a letter of apology from the chief of police.”
Horner completed an accounting and finance degree in 1983 and worked for various accounting firms, first in training and then as an accountant.
But in 1989, he helped a friend put together a plan for a financial planning business and had a change of career heart. He gave up accountancy to join the new business – wealth management firm Ronald Blue & Co.
In 1999, the company was sold to a US financial planning practice based in Atlanta but Horner and his partners remained part of the business until 2001. A change of senior management led to a restructure of the business and they no longer wanted to retain the three UK branches in London, Bristol and Leeds.
As a result, Horner bought his client bank from the company and set up Bristol-based Paradigm Capital Management as a fee-only firm focused on high-net-worth clients.
In 2004, Horner was approached by IFP past president David Norton who wanted to sell his firm and in 2005 Horner acquired his business, Norton Partners.
Paradigm Capital Management became Paradigm Norton Financial Planning which, as well as financial planning, has investment management, giving and philanthropy and tax and estates arms.
Paradigm has 11 chartered financial planners and six give financial advice directly to clients. The minimum fee that Paradigm Norton charges is £5,000 and clients typically pay between £5,000 and £50,000 a year for its services.
“The resistance to paying fees is not client resistance, it is adviser resistance. As long as you can offer value for money, clients will pay for your service.”
Paradigm Norton won the leading platform-based adviser business award at last month’s UK Platform Awards 2009 and has received industry recognition for its work in financial planning.
The firm has a long list of celebrity clients, including Wallace and Gromit creator Nick Park, actor Tony Robinson and hotelier Vanessa Branson, who is the sister of Richard Branson.
Last October, Horner and his wife spent their 25th wedding anniversary at Branson’s hotel in Marrakech. Horner says the hotel was “like an oasis of calm” among the busy Moroccan streets.
It is clear after spending time with Horner that he is a dedicated family man and he risks life and limb to keep up with his sons aged 13, 16 and 20.
Mountain biking is just one of the sports keeping him busy outside the office and we are not talking about leisurely pedal-pushing on a Sunday afternoon. He is in training for the Kona Mash-up in December, which mixes downhill, trail riding and cross-country into a 40km ride.
“If you want to keep close to your kids, you have to do the things they like. As a family, we are also fanatical about skiing and we get away to the French slopes about four times a year. My sons are pretty good skiers so it is mainly off-piste stuff. I try to keep up with them but some times I use the excuse that I am hanging back to look out for my 13-year-old.”
Asked if he would encourage his sons to enter the financial services sector, Horner says while he would encourage those suited to the industry, his two older boys probably would not fit the mould.
“I have done some psycho-metric profiling on my two eldest and they really are outdoor lads. They should be tree surgeons or something. They are never happier than when they are outside skiing or biking.
“But I would encourage anyone who is interested in financial planning to enter the industry. You really can have a massively positive effect on people’s lives.”
Horner says his career motivation comes from a desire to see financial services develop into a profession, which he says is starting to emerge in the UK market. He also wants to promote greater understanding among consumers of the difference between financial services and financial planning.
“My hope during my presidential period at the IFP is that we will see professionalism come about. If there is a book written in the future about the history of financial planning in the UK, I hope that Paradigm and I would be a part of that.”
Born: Leeds, Yorkshire
Lives: North Bristol
Education: School in Leeds to sixth form, Sheffield Hallam University, accounting and business degree BA (Hons)
Career: Accountancy in professional practice and in industry and financial planning from 1989 to date
Likes: Making a profound difference to the lives of our clients, building a business with excellent client care, outside work, skiing, moun-tain biking and Starbucks
Dislikes: People who are not prepared to listen, accountants who think they can do financial planning better than the financial planning community
Drives: BMW M3
Book: Good To Great by Jim Collins
Album: The Script by The Script
Career ambition: To see consumers recognise the profession of financial planning and play a signif- icant part in the growth and development of the profession in the UK
Life ambition: Make a difference to those around me, my family, friends, clients, the Paradigm Norton team
If I wasn’t doing this I would be…Skiing and completing a Masters in international development and learning and creating a business offering blended returns investing combined with giving and philanthropy