View more on these topics

Five minutes with…Darren Cooke

Ahead of speaking at Money Marketing Interactive Harrogate on September 13, Red Circle Financial Planning director and cold-calling warrior Darren Cooke says it is urgent the industry trains young people to become advisers.

On a scale of 1 to 10, how optimistic are you about the advice market for 2018?

I’d say 8, activity for advice firms seems to be very high and in general we are moving towards firms and advisers delivering better financial planning and outcomes for clients but there are some clouds. The defined benefit transfer market still worries me; I don’t think the British Steel Pension Scheme fiasco was the last we will hear about, particularly on rogue advisers selling dodgy investments.

What is the best innovation you’ve seen recently?

I can’t think of anything genuinely ground breaking and new. There is a lot of re-inventing or repackaging the wheel going on but little that is truly new.

What can be done to improve the supply of advice?

We need to train more advisers, simple as that. How we do that is the million dollar question. In my day the big insurance companies and banks served the mass market and trained new advisers but they largely don’t do that now, and the time to qualify and costs, are far higher. That’s a good thing but it does make it more difficult to fund new blood into the profession.

Register for Money Marketing’s Harrogate conference now

Have advisers reached a point of true professionalism yet?

No, but we are a long way forwards from where we were 10 years ago and the direction and pace of travel is good. We will get there as more embrace financial planning and stop just selling a product or fund.

How long will the DB transfer market boom continue?

As long as transfer values remain higher, that makes it more tempting to transfer and makes the likelyhood of a positive recommendation to transfer higher too. While any transfer should be based on the client’s circumstances and not just the critical yield it is harder to justify a recommendation to transfer with a high critical yield figure.

That is unless the professional indemnity market decides the matter for us. Many firms are struggling to get cover or are paying much increased premiums for it so they may be forced to withdraw from the DB market altogether.

What major trends are you predicting for the next 12 months?

It will be interesting to see how the contingent charging debate plays out and the FCA’s look on both platforms and investment management costs.

What session are you looking forward to most at MMI?

A fair few but the one directly after mine on platforms should be lively with some excellent panellists.

How important is it for the advice community to share best practice?

Vital. We can all improve and learn from each other. Not one firm I know is perfect and the best acknowledge that as they constantly strive to get better and give better to their clients.

How can advisers best improve their image with the public?

Continuing to build professionalism, continuing to give great client outcomes and rooting out the poor advice and by distancing ourselves from the unregulated scammers the press all too often term ‘financial advisers’ when they are not – they are crooks.

What’s been your proudest achievement at your firm this year?

The success of the business means I get to spend my time how I want with my family and distribute some of the business profits locally. Earlier this year the local Gala committee needed funds to pay for a stage at an event as the local parish council had pulled funding. Being able to contribute funds towards that gave me enormous personal wellbeing.

If you could scrap one piece of regulation, what would it be?

I can think of a fair few I’d introduce or amend. The Mifid II regulations spring to mind. Right ideas, right intentions but so badly executed and they could have been so much better.

Who is your advice market hero?

There are a fair few I look up to but I’m not sure I’d call them heroes. Generally they are advisers who I admire for the way they run their business and the service they deliver to clients. I strive to learn from them and adopt some of their practice in my own business.

Will ad valorem charging stand up to recent criticism?

That would be telling – you will have to come to my session on the day to find out what I think about charging.

What’s your favourite tech tool?

For cashflow planning, I use CashCalc. The clarity it dives to clients is phenomenal. I have never yet had a client say it was a waste of time, in fact just the opposite, even from some that are sceptical at the start of the process.

Who would be your perfect client, and who would be a nightmare one?

Nightmare is one who doesn’t listen. There is little point coming to me for advice and then not acting on it.

Perfect is a client where I can really make a difference to them with good sound financial planning and advice and they are prepared for a long lasting collaborative relationship on their finances.

Cooke is speaking at the event’s panel discussion on how to decide fee structure when giving advice. Register your interest for Money Marketing Interactive Harrogate here.



Money Marketing Interactive Harrogate 2019

Money Marketing Interactive Harrogate 2018 is the place to share views with senior figureheads in the industry and collaborate with other financial advisers to solve common problems. When: Thursday 13 September 2018 Where: The Old Swan, Harrogate Money Marketing Harrogate will bring together the financial advice community for a unique day of discussion and debate. […]

Money Marketing Interactive Harrogate is back! Our top five picks

After a record attendance for the London leg of our Money Marketing Interactive conference earlier this month, we are delighted to say that we will be returning to Harrogate in September. After a hugely successful launch last year, we are escaping the London bubble once more to bring you a top day of insight and […]

MMI 2016

The FCA on suitability and where next for DB transfers: Our top five picks at MMI Harrogate

What is Money Marketing Interactive? Money Marketing Interactive is our flagship conference and comes to Harrogate for the first time in September following a great event in London earlier this year. It is all about delivering Money Marketing in a live format and bringing advisers together to debate how best to evolve the advice profession. […]


What do advisers charge for pension consolidation?

Advisers charge an average of close to £3,000 for advice on pension consolidation, research has found. A survey of just over 100 advisers conducted by consumer champion Which? in May this year found that, on average, financial advisers are charging £2,879 to roll multiple pensions worth up to £150,000 into a single self-invested personal pension. […]


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up


    Leave a comment


    Why register with Money Marketing ?

    Providing trusted insight for professional advisers.  Since 1985 Money Marketing has helped promote and analyse the financial adviser community in the UK and continues to be the trusted industry brand for independent insight and advice.

    News & analysis delivered directly to your inbox
    Register today to receive our range of news alerts including daily and weekly briefings

    Money Marketing Events
    Be the first to hear about our industry leading conferences, awards, roundtables and more.

    Research and insight
    Take part in and see the results of Money Marketing's flagship investigations into industry trends.

    Have your say
    Only registered users can post comments. As the voice of the adviser community, our content generates robust debate. Sign up today and make your voice heard.

    Register now

    Having problems?

    Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3712

    Lines are open Monday to Friday 9:00am -5.00pm