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TCFP 77: 2021 and 2022

It’s nearly the end of another year and I find myself reflecting on what has been and what might be.

Recently 2021 has felt like the calm after the storm of 2020 but really it’s the calm before the next storm. That storm is brewing. Who knows where or how it will become manifest.

My intuition is that government interference will be the root cause, but only because it usually is.

Ostensibly governments act to create stability; they like to think themselves benevolent, powerful and motivated for the right reasons.

Consciously or unconsciously every elected Government is just as motivated by the thought of upcoming elections, which are never far away. This clouds their judgement.

What they want is stability today, stability wins votes. Instability tomorrow is the price for that, and probably someone else’s problem. Efforts to stabilise anything as large as a domestic (let alone global) economy are doomed to failure, even if some temporary success is possible.

Bolted together stability leads to massive instability once the dam is breached. And it will be breached. The stability of today is the seed for tomorrow’s instability.

And yet, when we stand back and look at progress from one decade to the next, we see the entire planet become healthier and wealthier. That’s my view at least, let’s see what happens.

Let’s be clear – my view is no more or less valid than any other. Therefore, it should not be taken into account when making financial planning decisions.

The best we can ever do is be ready. We are, which means you are.

2021 saw the TCFP team raise their game to new heights. We are all doing better work than this time last year. I couldn’t be prouder.

Ian Penberthy achieved Fellowship of the Personal Finance Society and Daniel Robinson has slipped in effortlessly as a financial planner. We also enjoyed the added bonus of Lisa Baumann knocking on our door, asking for some work experience only to find herself being so impactful she’s hanging around to help us some more. And getting paid this time!

Our long-awaited client socials were a rip-roaring success. The plan is to repeat them in 2022, perhaps with a tweak here and there.

Zoom is great for planning meetings, sharing graphs, having all the info we need at our fingertips. But they can’t make up for being in the same room as each other, even if that’s “just” for a coffee.

If the last couple of years have left any impression on me it’s the key role being present / paying full attention / deep listening plays in all our relationships. As financial planners we are very good at doing things for you; as human beings we can work on “being there” more.

I also hope we’ve done our bit for the wider community. We’ve sponsored various individuals’ fund-raising efforts as well as Loughton Cricket Club’s Women’s XI and the Elite Colts YFC U10s in Romford.

On top of that, the Town Close Foundation has been progressing well thanks to Alan, Nick, Keith and Jayne and soon we expect to team up with Young Enterprise – watch this space.

In 2022 we aim to be better than ever, to leave you in no doubt about the passion, integrity and empathy we bring to help you and your families enjoy the lives you surely deserve.

I have in mind better engagement with the next generations and clearer, simpler communication with you to help you discover what matters most. I also hope to add a wellbeing coach to the team who will be available to clients, clients’ families and colleagues alike with a particular focus on young families and young adults.

Whether we like it or not our experience of life, how we feel about it and our finances are inextricably linked. This comes back to how much “doing” and “being” we are engaged in. More “being” is the way ahead.

Looking much further ahead I’m aware that the succession clock is ticking. In 2035 my youngest will be 18 and I will be 63. By then it will have already been time to pass the TCFP baton forward.

To me that means the succession plan must be fully in play by 2028 and therefore known by 2026.

There are four options:

  1. Sell to a larger organisation;
  2. Merge with a like-minded organisation;
  3. Have an employee ownership trust (John Lewis model);
  4. Colleague(s) buys me out directly.

All have their advantages and disadvantages which I currently see as follows:

  1. Selling gets the biggest payout for me. It also requires me to sell my soul.
  2. Merging looks great on paper, but I am yet to meet a financial planner near enough to us – philosophically and geographically.
  3. Having the employees own TCFP should maintain continuity and togetherness but it’s complicated and possibly means there’s no real leader.
  4. Whereas a buyout will require a sizeable financial commitment and might lead to option 1 happening anyway.

At this point I’d like to be clear that option 1 is the option of last resort, it requires my death or complete loss of faculties to come into play (i.e., my legal representatives make it happen). I am not greedy and this will not be explored in any way, shape or form unless it’s absolutely necessary.

How 2, 3 and 4 play out depends on many factors, few of them controllable. But step one has been achieved – succession planning is underway, if only in the form of conversations and thinking.

And that’s where my thoughts have been and are heading – being prepared, being proud, getting better and succession.

I wish you all a peaceful and enjoyable Christmas and New Year; see you in 2022.



Boring But Effective | Truthful, Helpful, Kind 


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