ART Jeffries owner James Jeffries is not your average IFA. He is a heavily tattooed, globe-trotting rocker who does some modelling work on the side.
He does take some measures to conceal his alternative lifestyle from clients by purposefully avoiding tattoos on his forearms, hands and neck.
“I’ve been caught out a couple of times though when I’ve popped into the shops on a Saturday in shorts and one of my drawdown clients sees me,” he says. “They crack up and say, ‘bloody hell, I didn’t know you had all that’.”
It’s not the only time he has startled unsuspecting clients – he used to turn up to meetings in a 1957 black American Buick with flames covering the front and sides of the car. Jeffries says it mostly caused merriment but sometimes concern.
Tattoos and flamboyant cars are merely supplements to Jeffries’ first love of music, which he got from his IFA father.
He says: “My father was a composite general insurance broker and IFA but always played 1960s blues and folk music. There were always acoustic guitars in the house.”
Jeffries can sing and play the guitar, the banjo, the fiddle and the mandolin and is in three different bands that all operate simultaneously.
He performs solo work as Jim Jeffries alongside his role in the excitingly named Whipcrackin’ Daddies, which plays psychobilly, a fusion genre of punk rock and rockabilly.
He also has a local band called the 56 Killers which plays in burlesque clubs between Brighton and Bournemouth.
In 25 years of gigging, he has toured all over the world playing in Scandinavia, Germany, Austria, Holland and even on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles.
“I’ve played in Moscow and St Petersburg in Russia,” he says. “I’ve been given presents like knuckle dusters from the Hell’s Angels in Moscow. It is a brass-buckled belt that can be taken off and used as a knuckle-duster, although I haven’t done so despite some Russians trying to steal our band’s T-shirts.”
But the flamboyant rockstar lifestyle – he played in Barcelona and Hamburg this summer – has not been enough to pay the bills and support his family.
His latest song, Fire, released earlier this year has more than 30,000 hits on YouTube and Jeffries hoped it would kickstart his music career.
He now spends 25 per cent of his time on music and 75 per cent on his IFA practice and is currently fully focused on becoming RDR-ready.
As a sole trader, he is also in the process of merging with another local firm to take away the administrative burden and to ensure his clients are always served if he is touring. He says: “It’s been disappointing. Last year I thought I didn’t have to worry about the RDR because I’ll be a full-time musician but it’s getting harder and harder.
“If there was seriously enough money in the music, I would love to be full time but it does involve a lot of touring. Although the rockstar lifestyle sounds glamorous, it is pretty hard work and a boring slog of airports and motorways.”
Jeffries will either take some time off to complete his exams or begin next year as an unauthorised introducer while he takes his qualifications.
He says: “I really thought the RDR would be kicked into the long grass because of the economic environment, plus I was also being told I could be a pop star soon. I’ve been dawdling because I didn’t think it would be a pressing matter but now it is a situation where I’m not making enough from music and I reinvest a lot in equipment too. There is a hard realisation that I need to get RDR-ready. I’ve left it all too late like many other people.”
Jeffries lives on his mother’s farm on the south coast where he enjoys gardening as well as psychobilly, saying he likes to mix the peace of the English countryside with thrill-seeking gigs in Germany.
He was privately educated at Portsmouth Grammar School but hated its focus on academic achievement and moved to Winchester Art School at 16.
He then managed a series of fashion stores around the South West.
In 1995, he followed in the footsteps of his grandfather and father by joining financial services as an IFA, albeit reluctantly.
He says: “I spent the first year doing contracting-out reviews and was completely bored. I found it a miserable business but I could do it and being sensible I did my exams and I’ve been qualified since 1997. What I do for my clients is good and I like dealing with people face to face but the industry itself is absolutely terrible.
“What the FSA and media have done and the way the internet has made everything awash with online offers it is very hard. I deal mostly with corporate people in their 50s and 60s who want to see someone face to face to sort out their pensions or drawdown.”
He adds: “The industry is improving, though. While I’ve never been particularly proud of being an IFA because there were so many bad IFAs in the old days, and probably still are, the RDR might get rid of some of the bad elements and, if nothing happens with music, then I may be a happy and proud IFA with a fee-based professional career.”
It is clear that Jeffries’ passion is music and he would take a record deal tomorrow if it offered enough money.
“When I’m working in music, I don’t even notice the hours go by and can go all day without eating, drinking or checking Facebook,” he says. “Whereas in an IFA office, you can always look out of the window and think of something more fun than finishing off some suitability reports.”
Born: Southampton, 1971
Lives: Titchfield, Hampshire
Education: Portsmouth Grammar School, Winchester Art School
Career: 2010-present: owner, ART Jeffries Life and Pension Limited; 1995-2010 IFA; ART Jeffries Titchfield Limited; 1990-1994: trainee then manager of various independent menswear boutiques
Likes: 27-year old German girlfriend, my two daughters, family, music, partying and gardening
Dislikes: Television, internet, gadgets
Drives: Skoda Octavia estate
Book: Tattooed on their tongues by Colin Escott
Film: The Wanderers and Raging Bull
Musician: Elvis Presley
Career ambition: Concentrate on smaller areas that I can be an expert in rather than being a Jack of all trades
Life ambition: Carry on keeping things sweet
If I wasn’t doing this, I would be: In the old days, I would have like to have run a chain of record shops
To view Jeffries latest single Fire click here