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Unbiased winners talk promoting pension freedoms and sensible financial planning

Unbiased Media Awards winner Craig Palfrey is on a mission to educate clients and non-clients alike about the Government’s pension freedom reforms coming into effect in April.

Penguin Wealth certified financial planner Palfrey picked up the award for pension adviser of the year at the Unbiased annual awards ceremony in London last week.

He says the firm has contacted all of its clients already in retirement plans and encouraged them to come in for review meetings so they know how the changes affect them in plenty of time.

“We have also prepared a guide to the pension freedoms which is available to all visitors to our website to download,” he says. “We have a wealth management update which goes out to all clients and friends of the business on a monthly basis, and plan to run seminars in April.”

The firm launched Get Financial Advice last year, a business which aims to provide more accessible and affordable advice.

Its website is designed to be an “educational hub” for all things pensions, and includes videos, infographics and articles.

Almary Green managing director Carl Lamb, who took home the gongs for financial adviser of the year and at retirement adviser of the year, is also taking an unusual approach to raising awareness of the reforms.

He says: “We are working on a local media campaign which will use a wise owl character trying to educate a squirrel on the pension changes. We plan to use local newspapers and social media to get the message out there that people need to stop and think about the implications before drawing down their money.”

Promoting “sensible financial planning” and independent advice is what Chase de Vere head of communications Patrick Connolly believes won him the judges’ award for outstanding contribution.

He says: “I stick to basic, sensible financial planning with my commentary – we don’t advocate outlandish investments.

“I always try to promote independent financial advice, not just Chase de Vere but more generally, as I strongly believe in the value of that.”

Connolly says his advice for advisers wanting to work with the media is to be both knowledgeable and available.

“Being available is difficult because you have to be able to put journalists first,” he explains. “Journalists work to tight deadlines and if you let someone down they will not come back to you again.”

Combined Financial Strategies financial planner Jonothan McColgan swept the board, winning the young financial adviser of the year award, available to advisers under 40, and also coming top as adviser of the year in the estate planning and tax planning categories.

“I started working with the media last year and try to be proactive with ideas or work I am doing with clients,” he says.

“Any adviser worth their salt has got to get creative with tax planning for clients: I don’t mean bending the rules, but using them to allow clients to make the most of their savings and investments.

“Long-term care and estate planning will also become increasingly important due to the ageing population, but the lack of long-term care products is a problem.”

The rest of the Unbiased winners:

Investment adviser of the year: Tilney Bestinvest managing director Jason Hollands

Mortgage adviser of the year: London & Country Mortgages director of communications David Hollingworth

Protection adviser of the year: Highclere Financial Services partner Alan Lakey

Responsible investment adviser of the year: Barchester Green Investments director John Ditchfield

Social media adviser of the year: Wingate Financial Planning director Alistair Cunningham

The Bluebook newcomer: David Williams IFA chartered financial planner Stephen Womack

Value of advice ambassador: Rowley Turton chartered financial planner Scott Gallacher

Trade article of the year: Corporate Adviser editor John Greenwood

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