Friday, 23 April 2021

Let's Get Down to Business: Helen Fraser, Independent Financial Adviser

Let's Get Down to Business: Helen Fraser, Independent Financial Adviser

HELEN FRASER is an independent financial adviser at Orchard House in Peppard Common. She was born in Cambridgeshire and read History at Clare College Cambridge, where she met her husband, Richard, who works in IT. She used to work for Glaxo Wellcome in sales and then marketing. Helen and Richard moved to Henley in 2002 and now have two children at Gillotts school. The family recently added a black cat from a rescue centre. Helen is a director of the Henley Business Partnership and a member of Henley Symphony Orchestra. She also plays double bass in a small band with Richard on piano. Helen enjoys running, river swimming and indoor climbing.

Describe your business

I support and mentor people to make the most of their money, helping them achieve whatever their financial goals are.

How many people does it employ?

There are seven IFAs at Orchard House and fantastic support staff.

What did you do before you started this business?

When I had the children I continued to work part- time in marketing but felt that I wanted a new challenge that fitted round school hours. After a lot of thought, I decided on financial services and joined Orchard House. It wasn’t easy as there was so much to learn and several exams I needed to pass in order to qualify. After qualifying, I decided to become a self-employed financial adviser with Orchard House and after about a year things were starting to take off and I realised just how much I was enjoying it.

When did you start your business?

I started training in 2011 and qualified in 2013.

What was your objective?

I wanted a role that was intellectually stimulating. although if you had told me that I was going to be self-employed I would have said “not in a million years”. I never saw myself as an entrepreneurial person. I also didn’t think I could network but now I love it.

Who or what influenced you?

My mum may have done. She was the one in our family who understood money and how to budget.

Do you have a mentor or role model?

Julian Yolland, one of the directors at Orchard House, has been a great source of encouragement.

What would you do differently if you could start again?

I would be more confident in my own ability.

What impact is the coronavirus pandemic having on your business?

Luckily, it hasn’t had much of an impact as I’m able to work remotely. In fact I’ve now got some clients that I’ve never actually met in person.

How is your business doing?

I’ve been really busy and am not complaining.

Do you compare on a regular basis?

When I do my annual tax return I look at how I’ve done but, although my income is important, in many ways I look upon my business as a hobby.

How do you market your service?

Networking, especially at the Henley Business Partnership’s 3FM meetings. I also belong to an Athena Group. I’ve done lots of talks to groups of professionals on pensions. Many clients have come from referrals.

What’s the best thing about running your own business?

It’s when people say that I’ve taken a weight off their minds. I also find work very intellectually satisfying.

What’s the most challenging aspect?

Sometimes when I know I’ve got a lot of work coming up it can be challenging to fit everything in. Getting another few hours in a day would be ideal because it can be hard to cram everything in, especially family, friends, music and sports activities.

Where is your business headed?

Some time in the future, perhaps when the children have left home, I’d like to take on a new IFA who I can work with and train. I’d like to see more women in the profession.

What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned?

Not to be afraid to ask questions. Finding out what’s on people’s minds enables me to understand them and come up with ways to help.

What would you advise someone starting a business?

If possible, try it out before leaving your current job. It has to be something you are passionate about because in the mornings you’ll only have yourself to get you out of bed to do it.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made?

Initially, not knowing where the boundaries were and when to hand over to other professionals.

How organised are you?

Reasonably. I manage my diary and have a weekly plan.

What three qualities are most important to success?

Doing something that interests you, self-belief and the ability to delegate.

What’s the secret of your success?

Being interested in people and wanting them to succeed.

How do you dress for work each day?

I like to look quite professional so before covid I would wear a smart dress or trousers and heels but I’ve not worn heels for nearly a year.

What can’t you do without every day?

A pleasant 15-minute nap at lunchtime.

Lunch at your desk or going out?

In normal times I would go home for lunch.

Do you continue to study?

Yes. I have to do continuous professional development for several hours a month.

What do you read?

The Henley Standard, Money Marketing, F.T. Advisor and Private Eye. I often get books out of Henley library.

How are you planning for retirement?

What would I do? Of course I save into a pension and I have some investments.

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