Divorce happens. And as well as the emotional fall-out there will be a financial fall-out. You may be fluent in all money matters, independent and confident, or there may be a shared pension order issued by the court and you are ‘WTF just happened?’ on top of all the other WTFs. If this is the case, you may need someone to help you navigate through the money waters. To work in conjunction with your divorce lawyer during the horror. And, later, if you have a settlement of any kind you may need advice on how to get it invested, or ISA-ed, or you might need your own pension, and what about mortgages and stocks and stuff?
There are trained Independent Financial Advisers (IFAs) who specialise in helping people during and after a divorce, so we asked top law firms Withers and Mishcon de Reya for their recommendations, as well as Holly Mackay, the brains behind brilliant financial website Boring Money. Here is a list of eight people who will help you get your life back on financial track.
NB: We left the fees in their own words – every piece of work is different and everyone charges slightly differently so make sure you have absolute transparency AT ALL TIMES about what it’s going to cost you for the initial piece of financial management as well as fees going forward.
1. Mary Waring at Wealth for Women
Armed with ‘a million years’ of experience and a catchphrase ‘A man is not a financial plan’, Mary Waring has integrity and enthusiasm in spades. She is clever. Clear. Highly recommended (by lawyers at both Withers and Mishcon de Reya). And tuned in: “The typical IFA is male, grey hair and grey suit. Whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, many women are looking for something different. At a time when they are feeling overwhelmed and very anxious, they need a lot of hand holding and looking after. That’s what I’m great at!” She’s been an IFA specialising in divorce for five years and is firmly against ‘ticking box’ solutions. If you need to cry, she’ll let you – there are no awkward silences that she can’t handle. In fact Waring can handle anything, except her springer spaniel Chester who competes in agility competitions and is generally eliminated within three seconds.
Fees: “Fees for basic financial advice start at £3,500. Where cashflow planning is required, where there are inheritance tax issues or complex pensions issues the fee will be higher. The maximum fee is £30,000. The higher fees would apply where assets under management are larger, where the advice is more complex.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, based in Surrey but will travel in and out of London
2. Anna Sofat at Addidi Wealth
Anna Sofat is not afraid of a fight. She wants her clients to feel that they have some control back. “It can be very empowering being able to control your future and be responsible for it,” she says. This from a woman who sat on Rochester City Council – she’s political and engaged. She created her own business because she wanted to work on her own terms and without compromising either herself and her two daughters, or her clients. Yes she says, “making decisions can be daunting” but, as one client says, with Sofat on your side, “You don’t have to worry about anything.”
Fees: “Hourly rate of £350 plus VAT or fixed fees, depending on the work.”
Contact: email@example.com, based in Central London
3. Claire Harlow at Saunderson House
Claire Harlow understands that her clients might be experiencing a period of extreme transition: “One client commented once that, however equal her partnership with her husband, and however successful her career, she was always ‘the one who bought the loo rolls’.” So if you know about Andrex but not about ISAs, Harlow’s your woman. And this is a longterm commitment. “I tend to work with my clients throughout their lives.” With two girls under three and a full-time job, she may not have much wriggle room for extracurricular activities but Claire Harlow will make damn sure she does the best for your money. Also she does actually remember loving both trampolining and skydiving; “In a past life.”
Fees: “Saunderson House offers an initial meeting with no cost and no obligation. We can then work out the approach that works best for you as there are a couple of options depending upon how much involvement you want. We can either act on a discretionary or advisory basis. We tend to be able to offer best value for portfolios valued at £250,000 and over.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, based in Central London
4. Steven Hennessy at MDG
What if we told you that there was someone out there, who for biscuits and an hourly rate can give you sound financial advice as well as change a tyre, install a new TV, feed your chickens (NOT A EUPHEMISM), all while looking a bit like Dermot O’Leary. Meet Steven Hennessy who built up his own business after a stint working for a bank in the late 90s/early 00s left him feeling that “advice was in fact nothing more than product sales.” He is proud of his work, and his ability to communicate with his clients and the fact that he can say the alphabet backwards in under three seconds.
Fees: “Free initial consultation. Thereafter it really depends on the client specifics, but will be a flat fee or an hourly rate for financial planning and services agreed in advance. As long as it is understood by and appropriate for the client, and contributes fairly to my running of a sustainable, profitable business. We charge a 0.50% pa ad valorem fee for investment management.”
Contact: email@example.com, based in Buckinghamshire but will travel
5. Tamsin Caine at Smart Financial
You know how it feels when you see someone do something and you think, “I could do that.” That is how it was for Tamsin Caine. “I started as an estate agency based mortgage adviser, having bought a house and felt that I could do the job that they were doing.” And so she did. Now she offers lifestyle financial planning. Safe pair of hands is a phrase that springs to mind. (Also she coaches mini and junior rugby at the weekend). She really tries. She is excited for all the opportunities that might lie ahead for you. Yes you will be sad. Yes it’s a tough time but as Caine says, “The one thing that pulls most divorcees together is the opportunity that the two parties have to make their own decisions for themselves and their children, if they have any. Our first meeting explores questions that they have never thought about before.”
Fees: “We offer a free initial meeting where we find out all about you. We will discuss our fees during this meeting. They depend on clients’ individual circumstances.”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, based in Cheshire
6. Lisa Conway-Hughes at Westminster Wealth
Do you want an IFA with endurance, flair and mental agility? Well look no further than Lisa Conway-Hughes who runs duathlons and triathlons, speaks French and is a member of Mensa. She says she’s “personable, hard working and easy to understand”. We say she’s bright and brilliant and highly recommended by the likes of Withers heavyweight lawyer, Suzanne Todd. Conway-Hughes has an alter-ego: Miss Lolly, who gives smart financial advice for women through her website, misslolly.com. She’s also “a Sudoku addict and must ‘complete over 25 per day’.”
Fees: “Can offer hourly rate, fixed fee or percentage based work. Initial consultation is free.”
Contact: email@example.com, based in Central London but will come to you (within reason)
7. Lena Patel at ISJ Wealth Management
After Lena Patel got divorced eight years ago, she “decided to take control of my future and my career and train as an IFA.” Soon after qualifying she realised that “if I truly wanted independence and to provide a holistic approach to financial planning, then I would need to do it on my own.” So she’s singing from your hymn sheet. She is passionate about her business: “I am loving every moment of protecting and growing my clients’ assets, as well as enjoying the best work/life balance I have ever had.” And fizzes with enthusiasm and empathy: “Having been through the emotional roller coaster, I feel I can really understand how each client is feeling at each stage: Fear, exhilaration, excitement, loneliness, sleeping alone every night after being with someone for 30 years.” There’s nothing she won’t do to make it work for a client. “My motto is life is for living, you only get one chance and no dress rehearsal!”
Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org, based in Leicester
8. Hannah Edwards at BRI Group
If you want extreme focus, look no further than Hannah Edwards. She was inspired by watching the market movements on Teletext (remember that?) in her late father’s office. She read Economics at UCL and hasn’t “deviated from this path.” She is a Chartered Wealth Manager which means, “I can advise on individual share investments unlike most traditional IFAs.” Edwards is very goal-orientated: “I became one of the youngest Chartered Fellows in the UK while still in my 20s when the qualification had not been out very long.” She ran the London marathon for Marie Curie and raised £54,000 with a time of 4 hours and 16 minutes despite having “partied quite hard two nights before.” See? Focus.
Fees: “I always work on a fee basis to take a client on. This gives transparency and aligns me to a client’s lawyer. My hourly rate is £250 per hour plus VAT which is the top end for fees and I am absolutely comfortable not selling myself on price. It typically costs around £2,000 plus VAT to take a client on to complete a piece of work. Where I am very fair is to avoid high establishment costs, as the industry norms are still, to me, far too steep (can still be 3-5%!). This is important for pension shares, investment planning work, business sales.”
Contact: email@example.com, based in the Midlands