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The retiring types

Wentworth Rose was founded by Philip Rose and Roy Peyre in 1989 and has gone from strength to strength.

In June, Aegon took a 50 per cent stake in the company, enabling Wentworth Rose to put into action its plan of steady growth and expansion. In today&#39s era of regulatory chaos, reform reviews and uncertain economic climate, Wentworth Rose chief executive Philip Rose is excited about the company&#39s prospects and confident of its success.

Rose and Peyre first started giving seminars on retirement planning to the general public 13 years ago and began developing contacts with corporations by giving retirement counselling to employees of big companies.

The firm grew steadily and, after two years of operations, it employed another three advisers. In 1996, Rose and Peyre drew up the first of their five-year plans, aiming for expansion and £1m profit.

The company&#39s big break came in 1998, when it acquired a contract with the Telegraph to provide an annuity service for the Daily Telegraph and Sunday Telegraph readers. Rose explains the simple reason for going for the contract: “We were bored. We did not want to do another 10 years running the same-sized company. So we went out looking for a challenge, and with the Telegraph contract we certainly found what we were looking for.” Negotiations with the Telegraph lasted for two years with a number of proposals being put forward. Finally, in 1998, a deal was struck – but with a catch.

“We had this surreal day. We came out of Canary Wharf after two years of rejection and gave each other a high five. And then we said, ah, we don&#39t actually have an annuity service, do we?”

Never letting tiny difficulties, such as not having an annuity team, hinder the company, Wentworth Rose set to work. By 1999, only a year after gaining the contract, it had the biggest annuity service of any specialist IFA and its team was bigger than that of the Annuity Bureau. More important, the service for Telegraph readers was going well and it meant that the company had to expand.

The millennium year could not have been better for Wentworth Rose as the company saw a 64 per cent increase in turnover, to £3.93m from £2.39m, largely due to its new annuity service.

But instead of sitting back on their laurels, Rose and Peyre came up with a second and more ambitious five-year plan and this one involved them steering the company through the difficult times of regulatory change and IFA industry shake-up. Their new aim was to become the leading retirement IFA in Britain.

“We want to be synonymous with retirement,” says Rose. Underlying this drive to expand is his view that the IFA “cottage-industry” will not, and should not, last long. Major product providers cannot be dependent on tiny IFA practices, in his view and “the status quo is not an option”.

Recent times have not been easy for any IFA. Rose says he does not think he has seen such an uncertain time. “Companies are spending millions and gamble on the shape of regulations to come,” he says. With the final decisions to be made on polarisation, Wentworth Rose will not escape the uncertainties that will affect all IFAs. “We will stick to the rules and restructure in whatever way appears to be the best way in this ever-changing environment.”

However, Rose has been decisive and refuses to sit on the fence on the issue of polarisation. And this is where Aegon comes in. With a 50 per cent stake in Wentworth Rose, Aegon has left the company to manage itself but will provide a helping hand so that Wentworth Rose can expand.

Rose believes that by getting off the fence and becoming a joint venture, the com- pany has offset the big problems of ownership and extra funding. “It is a perfect combination,” he says. “We remain as little Wentworth Rose, very highly focused on our niche managed by our team. Standing behind us is Big Brother with all the financial clout.”

In the past year, Rose has been hiring, mainly, it must be said, from Towry Law&#39s reserve of staff. After a year of waiting for his contract to expire with Towry Law, Tudor Taylor joined Wentworth Rose as the managing director, coinciding with the retirement of Ray Peyre.

“Wentworth Rose is in a position to grow,” says Taylor, “and not many IFAs are in that position. It was a great opportunity to join and add my experience.”

Since joining, he has opened two new offices, including one in Edinburgh in March. The number of RIs at Wentworth Rose is now 50 and the aim is to have 100 by 2004.

This expansion will be nursed cautiously: Rose believes ardently in a marketing-led approach to growth and RIs will be taken on only if there is work for them to do. “I don&#39t like debt. We have never borrowed money to build the company. I don&#39t believe in making a loss,” he says categorically.

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