Born: 1948, Edinburgh
Education: Falkirk High, Falkirk.
Career: 1965-1976 Standard Life pension superintendent, 1976-1984 IFA Bain Dawes (became Hogg Robinson), 1984-1988 Scottish Amicable regional pension manager, 1988-1989 IFA Alan Steel Asset Management, 1989present Ernst & Young Financial Management chief executive.
Career ambition: To remain chief executive of EYFM and move the company forward.
Life ambition: “To spend a bit of time in retirement enjoying my family.”
Likes: A pint of lager, golf, meeting people, new challenges.
Dislikes: Wasted talent.
Peers say: “He is very focused on the IFA sector. He has had plenty of opportunity to move to other parts of Ernst & Young but has stuck with the financial services arm. This is his market, this is where he belongs.”
Drives: Honda CRV.
Ernst & Young Financial Management is launching into the top end of the IFA market with a fee-charging advisory service targeting high-net-worth clients around the country. The man spearheading the launch of Transcript is EYFM chief executive Ken Timmins.
The idea for the Glasgow-based service came about over the last two to three years as a result of Timmins and his team recognising the need for a new and innovative way to help the wealthy save for retirement.
The timing has a lot to do with the publication of the ABI-sponsored report, The Future Regulation of UK Savings and Investment, which identified a £27bn gap between the amount that people are currently saving and the amount they would need to maintain their standard of living in retirement. Timmins saw this as an ideal opportunity to launch Transcript.
The ABI report deals primarily with the financially excluded and suggests ways to get independent advice to those who do not currently have access to it. It may seem odd that EYFM chose this as an occasion to roll out a service aimed at the wealthy but Timmins points out that the report also identifies the need for fee-based independent advice.
“We are about selling advice and not necessarily selling products.” He points out that EYFM has been active in providing financial advice for some time – 16 years – but until now it has only been available to existing corporate clients of the parent consultancy. “We have been an IFA for a long time,we have just not been a publicly available IFA.”
The service is not cheap. The initial consultation giving investors a report explaining what Transcript offers, the current state of their own portfolio and what savings options they should consider comes with a price tag of £1,200. The cost for any further advice is negotiated between the adviser and client.
Timmins says EYFM has long had a fee culture, so it was natural that its new offshoot would charge fees instead of commission. He believes IFAs will have to be more open to fees. “IFAs may have difficulty in getting used to charging fees but in the future it will be the only way for them to go.”
Transcript has 50 RIs based throughout the country and Timmins has fairly modest ambitions in that he wants to see it grow by 25 advisers over the next five years. To do this, he plans to recruit from existing IFAs and bring in young people to be trained internally.
He recognises that the strong brand name of Ernst & Young is an asset but says the reason why the name Transcript is being used is because it is one of many “solutions” that the company plans to create. While remaining tight-lipped about the specific shape these new ideas will take, Timmins says they will involve the new defined-contribution tax regime or perhaps something involving the Isa and Pep regulations.
W hen asked about the decision to launch an IFA at a time of uncertainty over distribution, Timmins is not fazed. He is firmly committed to polarisation, saying any change will not benefit anyone. “There is a definite need for genuine independent financial advice and a definite need for clarity in the public's eyes about the service provided by IFAs. I do not believe changing this will accomplish anything.”
Timmins joined EYFM 12 years ago after the merger of consultancies Arthur Young and Ernst & Whinney. Both owned IFA operations and bringing them together resulted in EYFM. Timmins started as pension director but soon became chief executive. But his career began at Standard Life in 1965, where he worked for 11 years as a pension superintendent in the head office. He left to join IFA Bain Dawes, which eventually turned into Hogg Robinson, later becoming Advizas before being bought by Towry Law.
His next stop was at the now rebranded Scottish Amicable, where for four years he was regional pension manager. Timmins left to spend a year with West Lothian-based IFA Alan Steel Asset Management before arriving at EYFM.
At 53, Timmins has five children, three under the age of five and two in their mid-20s. He looks forward to the day when he can spend more time with the younger ones and enjoy watching them grow.
Like most Scots, he loves the game of golf. He is also a season ticketholder at Edinburgh football team Hearts, currently languishing in ninth place in the Scottish Premier League. Timmins fancies writing a book or two in his retirement and has a couple of ideas swirling round in his head, one on his beloved Hearts and one about the many Closes off Edinburgh's famous Royal Mile.
Before he does any of this, making Transcript a success is top of Timmins' agenda. It is an ambitious goal to launch an IFA aimed at the wealthy at a time when wallets everywhere are feeling the pinch but Timmins is optimistic and his resolve remains undented.