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Profile: ‘Selecting the top 50 to 100 funds you use is not difficult’

Advisers have traditionally doubled up as stock pickers and for Filip Slipaczek staying on top of the market is still central to the service he offers

It is fair to say that Slipaczek Chartered Financial Planners senior partner Filip Slipaczek has kept a relatively low profile in recent years. Some Money Marketing readers will remember Slipaczek from his days as a director at the Society of Financial Advisers, precursor to the Personal Finance Society.

By his own admission, Slipaczek, who is three times chartered through qualifications in banking, insurance and financial planning, clashed with some of his peers over his zeal for mandatory qualifications pre-RDR. But once the war of words became personal he decided to focus on bringing his two sons into the business as his succession plan.

Now 30-year-old Alex and 27-year-old Max are firmly ensconced in the business, Slipaczek says he has witnessed a ‘cowboy industry become a profession’ and is keen to share his views on various topics. First up are adviser directory and review websites Unbiased and VouchedFor, which many advisers use for marketing purposes.

“Traditionally, Unbiased has been a superb marketing tool,” says Slipaczek. “We probably used to get four or five quality clients from it up until five years ago.”

However, Slipaczek is not a fan of Unbiased’s service where the quickest adviser to respond and pay for an enquiry gets the customer’s details. “On our Unbiased profile, we state that we will not pay for any enquiries, having already paid a membership fee,” he says. “Clients should have sufficient information on the search engine to choose one particular adviser.”

Slipaczek says review website VouchedFor is also a “superb marketing tool” but there are areas which he believes could be tightened up. Money Marketing reported last week how VouchedFor has quite rightly stepped up its random spot checks to verify client reviews of advisers as genuine.

Slipaczek was mystified about why he was randomly selected twice in five weeks to provide evidence that reviewers are his clients, especially where a client had come to him through VouchedFor. He thinks adviser profiles should also be subject to greater scrutiny.

“How many advisers list their qualifications? How many say they are highly qualified when they are only qualified to level four?” he says. “All I’ve said on mine is what I have. One or two people have said I am too direct but I’m not misleading anybody.”

As far as being direct goes, Slipaczek has spelt out in his VouchedFor profile that his firm is unable to do business that is not permitted by the FCA and will not just sign off business such as defined benefit transfers.

“There are certain prospective clients that try to tempt advisers from what they should do under the guise that they need help,” he says. “Websites like VouchedFor need to educate advisers and the potential leads that advisers can only do what is permitted by the regulator.”

Ever to the point, Slipaczek says he never uses discretionary fund managers or model portfolios as he does not see the sense in his clients paying extra for portfolios that the firm can build at a lower cost.

Asked about advisers who do outsource this, Slipaczek says: “There are two ways of looking at it. One could be critical of advisers who don’t do it themselves. We charge 0.65 per cent for annual reviews, 0.75 per cent twice a year and 0.85 per cent for quarterly reviews. Some firms charge clients a 1 per cent adviser charge with a DFM on top of that.

“To be able to select and continue to monitor the top 50 to 100 funds you’re using is not difficult or time consuming,” he says. “You’ve got basic tools to help you like Trustnet and Morningstar and others – why can’t you put in five hours a week?”

The only way I could develop the business was to introduce my own blood into it

Slipaczek adds that advisers who can consistently pick funds in the first and second quartile across the board are certainly adding value to clients.

“The other way to look at it is that some advisers, sadly, may not have confidence in their ability to select funds and build portfolios. Traditionally, advisers have always picked their own funds,” he says.

Born in Winchester to an Irish mother and Polish father, Slipaczek grew up on a tough council estate where he was bullied for having a Polish surname. His father had instilled in him that because of his heritage, he needed to work much harder than the indigenous populace. That only fuelled his determination to get a good education and make something of himself.

After returning to the UK from one of Poland’s top universities during the early 1980s recession, the only job available was with the Sainsbury’s graduate management scheme. By 1983 he had moved into financial services with Bradford & Bingley. Roles at a number of IFA firms then followed.

“Having worked for other IFAs who taught me how not to run a business – being reliant on indemnity commission – I set up my own business in 1996 on a non-indemnity basis,” he says.

Outside Slipaczek’s professional life he is, on a pro bono basis, a patron of Faith Matters, the media officer for the Institute of Polish Jewish Studies and a trustee for the UK Committee for the Preservation of the Mount of Olives Cemetery in Jerusalem. Slipaczek also holds the Silver Cross of Merit, awarded by the Polish president in 2014.

Slipaczek started off as a sole practitioner and stayed that way until Alex joined in 2012. “I never wanted to employ other advisers as I didn’t want to be responsible for someone else’s misselling,” he says. “I didn’t feel there was much honesty out there and the only way I could develop the business was to introduce my own blood into the business.”

Bringing his boys on board was a win-win situation – Slipaczek had instilled in them his values and business etiquette; for their part they were ready to join the practice. “It meant I could plan my succession over the next five, 10 or 15 years. I don’t have to sell the business, to the detriment of clients, to a third party.”

Five questions 

What is the best bit of advice you’ve received in your career? 

My late father said, if an English person had a qualification, as a Pole you needed to have 10.

What keeps you awake at night? 

Worries about my clients’ portfolios when there are wobbles in the market. Boxing Day 2018 I got up at 3am to check the Far East markets.

What has had the most significant impact on financial advice in the last year? 

The misselling of pensions for British Steel workers.

If I was in charge of the FCA for a day I would… 

…ensure more people, were recruited from the advice community and ensure those checking our work had the same or superior qualifications to those they were supervising.

Any advice for new advisers?

Thank the Almighty you are entering a profession that was not available in the late 1980s.

CV 

2018-present: Senior partner, Slipaczek  Chartered Financial Planners

1996-2018: Principal of own advisory firm

1993-1996: Self-employed IFA

1988-1993: Various financial services firms, including IFAs

1986-1988: International banking with an Australian bank

1983-1986: Bradford & Bingley graduate management scheme

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Comments

There are 3 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. What a breath of fresh air! Of course i would say that as I happen to agree with practically everything he said and indeed echoed all this in my own practice. (Except that my charges ere a little less than his).

    Of course any decent adviser should be capable of constructing their own portfolios and picking investments. Model portfolios and outsourcing is just an admission of incompetence.

    I too was a sole trader, for the same reasons as Filip states. Unfortunately we didn’t have progeny to carry on the business, so to safeguard my clients best interests I had to sell. Luckily to a decent firm and not a consolidator.

  2. What keeps you awake at night?

    Worries about my clients’ portfolios when there are wobbles in the market. Boxing Day 2018 I got up at 3am to check the Far East markets.

    Which is why you shouldnt be building portflios for clients and when you do, having an asset alocation that wouldn’t be overly effected by a wobble in the Far East, which makes up a minor part of most portfolios.

    There are too many advisers in this industry that try and make out they are more than they are.

    Fund research is not just a case of reading trustnet.

    You can of course convince yourself that you are wonderful if you keep telling yourself you are.

    • Well Justin, just because you consider yourself to not be up to the job, others are and have proved to be.

      I ran my own firm for 25 years in a very similar way to Filip. Each portfolio was bespoke and always bench marked, against the usual indices and the Private Investors Index as well.Hand on heart I can say that my performance was perfectly respectable and overall beat the most important 2 benchmarks – the All World and the Private Investors. And this was achieved a whole lot cheaper than model portfolios or outsourcing I was not unique. Hard work, good due diligence, diversity and spread; all with a hefty dose of cynicism.

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