Prestwood® provides comprehensive Financial Planning software, including ‘client facing’ and ‘practice management’ modules that interlink, to show clients a projection of their financial future, their opportunities and challenges.
Prestwood Software is designed by Financial Planners for Financial Planners. Users include many of the UK’s most successful lifestyle Financial Planners, leading networks, accountancy firms and legal practices.
After 30 years of development it continues to pioneer innovations, resulting in a range of accurate, dependable, user friendly products, backed by an unrivalled support team and a network of first class mentors. We continue to extend the functionality, flexibility and compatibility of the software, linking to more third-party software and platforms.
Prestwood Software remains at the cutting edge of the profession through constant development to keep pace with changing legislation and emerging professional requirements.
There’s more to professional financial planning than numbers and products! Over the past 37 years Prestwood’s own financial planning firm has developed a service that has earned an enviable loyalty from high calibre clients. It has become a respected, fee-based, trusted adviser as befits one of the founders of the Institute of Financial Planning.
Nobody has more experience of lifelong cash flow modelling than Prestwood.
The History Of Prestwood Software:
Prestwood was founded by Paul Etheridge MBE, CFPCM FIFP in 1975, focusing on offering clients a fee-based, comprehensive financial planning service. This was an unusual concept at the time and Paul is now rightly regarded as a pioneer of “lifestyle linked financial planning”.
Paul was frustrated by the lack of effective tools – trying to prepare financial plans on a word processor with spreadsheets proved laborious and unsatisfactory.
By a stroke of good luck, he met software developer, Philip Congrave, who joined Prestwood. Together, they created and developed the first lifelong cash flow modelling software in 1984. The software is now regarded by many of the UK’s leading planners as the finest tool available.
In 1986, Paul founded the Institute of Financial Planning (IFP), serving as president for 10 years. He served on the PIA Rules Committee and for 6 years was a member of the FSA’s Smaller Business Practitioners’ Panel. He was also an external examiner for the Financial Services degree at the University of the West of England.
Financial Planner Magazine – Interview With Paul Etheridge MBE, IFP member No. 1 (February 2011)
Financial Planner: What was the IFP like as a organisation when it was founded and how did you become member number one?
Paul Etheridge: I, and a small number of others, were members of the International Association for Financial Planning but there was reluctance among UK advisers to join what was perceived to be an American organisation. I therefore called a meeting to discuss the possibility of forming a UK institute.
Far more people than I invited turned up and right from the start there was enthusiasm for the idea. A working committee was elected on the spot to take matters forward. The Institute’s initial capital consisted of donations dropped into two waste paper bins held at the exit door by my wife and my PA. Thereafter, for some time, financial support for the new body was provided directly or indirectly by Prestwood, topped up by life membership subscriptions from those of us with sufficient faith to put our money where our mouths were.
FP: Did you ever imagine the IFP would one day grow to well over 2,000 members and have grown by 35 per cent in the past three years?
PE: Yes. The initial committee expected to recruit about 1,000 members in the first year but it took much longer than that.
We had very limited resources but we established a small office in Hereford to accommodate our first (part time) executive director, Richard Denyer. Richard’s enthusiasm and energy helped to move things forward and I toured the country to try to recruit members.
FP: How does the IFP today compare to the IFP in the early days?
PE: It’s dramatically different – reflecting a huge input of time and energy by successive Presidents, board members and branch committees with superb support from Richard Denyer until his retirement in 1994, followed by his successors – Kate Gill and then Nick Cann. It’s now taken for granted that we have Codes of Ethics and Professional Standards, a network of regional branches, the Financial Planner of the Year competition and the brilliant Financial Planner magazine – but each of these enhancements followed lots of discussions and tremendous efforts by individual members. A major step forward was becoming the sole UK body authorised to grant CFPCM certification (initially on probation for 3 years). This was after huge efforts by the IFP board and others to bring the Institute up to the required standard. Kate Gill and I signed the agreement in Paris in 1995.
FP: What changes have you noticed in the Financial Planning profession over the past 25 years?
PE: A growing realisation that ‘Financial Planning’ could not attain true professional status unless it became fee-based, thereby removing the necessity for clients to buy commission-based products to pay their advisers. Also, there needed to be relevant examinations and education programmes for planners.
Regulatory and professional expectations place an ever increasing requirement for continuing professional development but in some areas the required knowledge base was even broader in the early days.
For example, there was an expectation, internationally, that Financial Planners should be able to advise on general insurance as well as investment, life assurance and pensions. The view was that the absence of suitable insurance protection could result in clients facing financial ruin – which clearly was unacceptable when developing a comprehensive financial plan. Perhaps the biggest changes have been in the growth of technology and in regulatory requirements.
FP: What aspects of the IFP do you think have remained the same?
PE: A commitment to helping members acquire the knowledge and skills to provide outstanding service to clients and a willingness among members to share information. Treating customers fairly has been part of the Institute’s ethos throughout.
FP: The RDR will bring many changes. What will be the key changes for Financial Planning?
PE: The RDR provides a positive boost to professionalism and will create a better understanding by consumers of the benefits of using Financial Planners.
It will lead to an acceptance by clients of agreeing directly with planners the charges for their services. Sadly it will also result in an increased cost burden, which is already considerable, especially when account is taken of European legislation and the ever-growing cost of the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. According to its latest Annual Report and Audited Accounts, the direct cost of the Financial Services Authority now exceed £400m per year.
FP: Will IFAs paid mostly by commission be forced to adopt the fee-charging professional route when the RDR arrives?
PE: It depends what you mean by ‘professional’. A great many advisers remunerated by commission have provided very professional services for many years and rightly resent any suggestion to the contrary.
FP: You’ve been attending the IFP annual conference for many years. How has it changed?
PE: Mainly the increased number of attendees and exhibitors, leading to enhanced opportunities for networking. I think there were only about 30 delegates at our first Conference in 1987.Conference speakers have always been of a high standard and some came from other countries.
FP: What are the challenges facing the Financial Planning profession?
PE: The biggest ones are making relevant members of the public aware of the benefits of using professional Financial Planners and helping newer members of the profession to develop to a high level the relationship skills needed to do the job.
Fact finding involves so much more than completing a standard questionnaire. The ‘digging deeper’ questions are the ones that bring the process alive. Spreading the word that Financial Planning is not just about selling products remains a challenge. Even the FSA struggles to understand that Financial Planners are advisers, not sales people. There is also the issue of how to make comprehensive Financial Planning available to other than affluent clients – and still make an acceptable profit.
FP: Financial Planning remains a relatively small profession – do you think that’s likely to change and what do you see as the future of the profession over the next 25 years?
PE: Increasing success. No other profession is devoted to helping clients achieve their desired lifestyle. I believe most Financial Planners can cope with a maximum of about 160 clients and many prefer fewer. According to HMRC there are 1.25m people in the UK with assets of more than £500,000. At 160 clients per adviser, they would need 7,812 Financial Planners. Allowing for clients with less than £500,000 – but growing – it would be reasonable to assume there is scope for at least 10,000 Financial Planners.
FP: Prestwood Software is widely used by planners. Do you believe planners should take greater advantage of computer systems or will that distance them from clients?
PE: Technology will never distance planners from clients if planning meetings actively involve both parties. At Prestwood we work with clients to help them produce their financial plans. Lives are transformed during our planning meetings as clients are shown what their future could be as alternative strategies are illustrated. Clients choose and plan their own destiny.
Prestwood started developing Financial Planning software even before the IFP was formed and the major breakthrough was our launch of lifelong cashflow forecasting, identifying challenges and opportunities years in advance – in time for plans to be adjusted to cope with them. I believe proper Financial Planning is impossible without such lifelong forecasts. Initially some advisers are nervous of using computers with clients but practice soon overcomes this and tremendous benefits result.
FP: Away from work, how do you like to relax?
PE: Being with my family and friends. Talking, walking or reading. My wife and I spend at least three months a year at our home in Spain, during which I spend a lot of time with my computer developing ideas for action back in the UK. When I get round to re-surfacing my tennis court I shall again enjoy playing against my machine !
FP: Can you tell us a bit about the other organisations and charities you are involved in?
PE: My biggest commitment is to my old school, Wycliffe College. It is an educational charity, established in 1882, and provides an excellent education to a wide range of children – both those who are specially gifted and those with special needs. I set up The Prestwood Foundation as a small registered charity 25 years ago and remain chairman of its Trustees. My involvement in regulation has taken a lot of time over the past 10 years but this will come to an end when I retire from the Smaller Business Practitioner Panel. I was for many years a very active member of the Territorial Army and I also remain a Justice of the Peace.
“The ‘godfather’ of financial planning, Paul Etheridge has cemented his reputation as one of the UK’s leading advisers thanks to his role as founder president of the Institute of Financial Planning and his championing of the use of cashflow modelling.” Citywire, Feb 12 http://citywire.co.uk/new-model-adviser/awards
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