Barry Horner of Paradigm Norton
I first met Barry nearly 10 years ago, not long after I first arrived in the UK and started working closely with the IFP. During that time I’ve seen him and the team at Paradigm Norton create what I believe is one the leading Financial Planning firms in the UK. The approach to business management and the professional culture they’ve created is first class.
Barry’s polite, a man of personal conviction, and committed to developing not only his business, but the profession of Financial Planning. He’s spoken across the UK and around the world, penning this response for me from Israel where he was speaking at a conference a week ago.
From time to time we catch up for breakfast and a chat just to share what we are both seeing around the traps. It’s a real pleasure to have Barry sharing his thoughts in our latest instalment of the ’10 Questions For…’ series.
10 Questions For Barry
Q1. What’s the best piece of business advice you’ve ever been given?
I was previously a partner in a financial planning practice in the US and the CEO would constantly encourage each planner to ‘only do what only you can do’. Following this mantra has served me well and I reflect on it daily. Am I right now doing something that only I can do? Or have I drifted back into old ways where I am not adding value to the business, my life/my family life or my clients’ lives?
Q2. Who is your business role model?
No one individual or business springs to mind, but we have sought to craft our business based on the best examples that I have experienced within the professional services business model.
- Put your client at the centre of all that you do
- Operate a transparent fee based remuneration system
- Build a career structure that incentivises your team to build with you
- Hire great administrative support for the fee earning team
- Build the best team that you can afford
Q3. Have any other adviser/owners ever helped you with advice or support? (Who? What did they help you with?)
I was on the IFP board for 10 years. I have always found financial planners to be incredibly open as to what has worked for them and what hasn’t. Equally, we have shared our successes and failures along the way. There is always something to learn. I ask myself when attending a branch meeting, conference or one to one – what are a couple of the gems can I take from this meeting that will help us transform Paradigm Norton?
Q4. Have you ever given up your time to help another adviser coming through?
I do constantly. I am a great advocate of mentoring. I have spent time with planners from the UK, Australia, the US and more recently planners in Israel. Hopefully we learn from each other. I spoke at the FPA conference in Sydney in 2013, so whilst I was out there I took the opportunity to do a study tour of a couple of mature financial planning businesses. I still refer to my notes of these meetings when faced with a crossroads in our business.
Q5. What was your most expensive or painful business mistake?
Mistake or learning opportunity? We have made forays into areas that are not our core competence and subsequently learned from it; auto enrolment being one such excursion. Thankfully this project didn’t prove too costly for us. It was, however, a helpful reminder to stick to what we do best.
Q6. Which person or business do you most admire in the profession?
A couple of planners spring to mind. I like what Alan Smith at Capital has done regarding fee charging. Alan has moved completely to fixed fees (no longer AUM based) believing that this is genuinely the best option for his clients. What I admire is his preparedness to go all out for a new way of doing things. Having the courage of your convictions is not always easy – it’s so easy to compromise. Secondly, I admire Stephen Evans of Evans Hart. Stephen is a highly competent businessman who is clear on who is his target market, how he will deliver his service and what he will and won’t do for clients. He has created an excellent and highly profitable client-led practice.
Q7. What do you love about Financial Planning?
The unique ability to transform clients’ lives and see them achieve life goals that they had no idea were achievable.
Q8. If you could have your business career over again, what would you do differently?
I am not one to live with regret. The past is the past. I believe that today I am working and operating in my sweet spot. I enjoy the process of business building, seeing others reach their full potential and creating opportunities for them. If I had discovered this 20 years earlier, that would have been nice.
Q9. Were you ever under severe financial pressure as you grew? If so, describe briefly what you did about it / how did you get out of it?
Yes, in the early days cash was absolutely king. I still recall daily bank reconciliations and careful cash management in the hope that we would be paid at the end of the month. Cash management is still a key part of life for us but thankfully we no longer live ‘hand to mouth’. Our non-executive Board has always played an extremely helpful role through our more challenging periods and bring an external perspective, which I for one have always found really helpful. If you are nearing the limit of your bank overdraft, it’s very easy to be blown off course and take on the wrong type of clients or business!
Q10. What’s the secret to happiness in life?
For me it’s a combination of three key things. My faith, my family and my work, and keeping these three things in balance. I love my work, but I am also privileged in that I now take the month of July off work each year to spend time with my wife and three boys (ages 19 to 25). This year we are heading for Provence and Tuscany. I was once told that the best role model we can show to our clients is one where we lead a balanced life. This I try to do.