Only three weeks into his new job and Charcol's wealth development
director Roderic Rennison has already sussed out the best coffee shop near
Even his PR looked on with some surprise as Rennison strode confidently
straight round the corner to the smart cappuccino haunt.
Spending just a short amount of time with Rennison – the former Merrill
Lynch Investment Managers retail markets and products director – it becomes
clear he takes a bullish approach to whatever he gets involved in.
The son of an Irish father and a Yorkshire mother, he was headhunted from
Merrill Lynch and joined Charcol on June 1. Two days later, he found
himself packed off on PIMS – tough when you are a teetotaller – to get back
into the swing with IFAs.
He is now charged with moving Charcol away from mortgages and developing
it as a wealth management service for life, pension and investment products.
It will be recruiting specially qualified advisers to broaden its advice
base and will eventually move into complex areas such as income drawdown.
Charcol certainly had its eyes fixed on a very experienced individual to
reposition its business.
Rennison had planned for a more studious career and on leaving school
wanted to take a degree in library and information services at Loughborough
University. But an advertisement offering the chance to earn £200 a
week proved too much of a distraction.
After two days of training, he was pounding the streets of Hounslow West
selling life insurance.
Rennison joined Barclays' insurance division in 1976 and stayed for nine
years, eventually becoming its life and pension product manager.
His technical expertise in life and pensions came to the fore when he
joined accountancy firm Robson Rhodes. He was made principal for its
financial services business in 1990 – a role he held for the next eight
years. Business focused on financial planning and the defined-contribution
Rennison was also a consultant to life offices during phase one of the
pension transfer and opt-out review.
The Charcol service is integrated with its online offering, which
currently features basic advice on its Isa fund supermarket. Stakeholder
advice will be available shortly.
Advice for customers dealing with Charcol online is free and commission is
charged when a product is bought. However, anyone wanting face-to-face
advice is charged a fee. Rennison sees this as a vital change in the way
IFAs operate. The name of the game for the new Charcol is ongoing service.
He says: “For clients with a certain amount of capital, income and
complexity of financial affairs, fees represent the way forward. As people
earn more, their affairs become more complicated and they will want to pay
fees. With high-net-worth clients, the law of probability says they will
want to pay fees.
“But the intermediary has to demonstrate very clearly why fees represent
value for money. It is not about buying products, it is about a concept of
service which fits better with fees than with commission.”
C oming back into an IFA business at this time of fundamental review and
upheaval could make it difficult to set a strategy for a clear way forward.
But Rennison thinks the future of IFA businesses lies in providing an
ongoing client relationship. He says: “IFAs have to move past having a
transactional relationship to provide real ongoing advice. If they have a
defined strategy, they will succeed.”
Multi-ties are the talk of the town following Misys' takeover of DBS and
the possibility of a major multi-tied network. But Rennison continues to
fly the flag for independence. He says: “At present we have no intention of
multi-tying. We have invested heavily in the independent proposition and
have built the mortgage intermediary on it. We have exported it to Bradford
& Bingley, which now has the Marketplace.”
On a day-to-day basis, he believes the toughest concern for IFAs is
keeping abreast of the technicalities of product development and regulatory
changes. “IFAs have to remain fully up to date and competent in particular
product areas when things change very quickly. Registered individuals have
to be provided with resources to make it easy for them to keep up to speed.”
From the perspective of an IFA firm, he believes the challenge is to get
technology right. He says: “It is vital people make the right technology
purchases and get the right back-office systems put in place. But to
support RIs through the difficulties of their knowledge base, firms also
have to make sure they have an effective training and competence regime.”
When not being beaten at golf by his wife – surprisingly, he is an
“appalling” golfer, given his accountancy and fund management background –
he firmly believes in taking breaks. A holiday is really a holiday with
Rennison. One of his favourite places to visit is a part of Crete which is
only accessible by boat so he can feel completely uncontactable and far
away from the rest of the world.
But given Charcol's ambitious plans to become a wealth management service,
when he isn't sequestering himself on a sun-soaked island, the IFA industry
will certainly be hearing from him.