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Regional Review: Surrey

As one of the wealthiest counties in the UK, moving from London overspill to typical stockbroker belt, Surrey is classic IFA territory. From the suburbs to the South-west of London, out to its picturesque villages, the area is full of high-net-worth individuals.

Epsom will be the location for the Money Marketing IFA UK exhibition and conference, which will be held at the Epsom Downs racecourse on October 25. Surrey&#39s inhabitants are comfortable with finance issues and at 41 per cent of all employees in the county, the banking, finance and insurance sector is its biggest employer compared with 6 per cent for manufacturing.

With most of the county a commutable journey from London&#39s Square Mile, average incomes are high across Surrey, helped by an unemployment rate of 2.5 per cent compared with a national average of 5.5 per cent, according to the Office of National Statistics.

The Surrey economy grew at a rate of 2.4 per cent between 1995 and 2000 and the ONS is predicting this trend of wealth creation will continue to outstrip the national average at 3.5 per cent up until 2010, which is good news for IFAs working in the area. More specifically, the ONS expects output in the insurance sector in Surrey to increase from £370m in 1990 and £780m in 2000 to £1.1bn in 2010. Surrey is home to national IFA operations such as Wentworth Rose and Charcol as well as many prospering smaller “general practitioner” IFA practices.

IFAs report no shortage of clients in the area, with most getting business through referrals from existing clients and business partners and reporting little need to advertise. IFAs in the area say they rarely find themselves chasing other people&#39s clients, which means the financial advice market is still not yet mature, with plenty of slack to be taken up.

The county has a reputation of being the place to move to when you have made lots of money and with property prices among the nation&#39s highest, some IFAs are noticing clients holding back from investment products, choosing their home as their principle investment. High prices, hit by stamp duty of 3 per cent over £250,000, are causing many homeowners to extend and adapt their homes rather than move.

Although Surrey is not a traditional blue-rinse retirement area, the wealth of its inhabitants means many of them are retiring early, reaping the benefits of sound financial planning in the past..

The financial advice sector is thriving in Surrey and, if statistical projections are borne out, IFAs working in the area will continue to flourish.

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