Three years after standing under the famous arches of Newcastle University for my graduation, I finally make my long-awaited return to the city. While it feels somewhat unnerving to be back in a professional rather than ‘academic’ capacity, I’m sure to adapt my behaviour accordingly.
Immediately, I notice that the atmosphere in Newcastle has improved significantly. Football results are positive, the outlook is encouraging, and people are wondering just how far the team can go. Yes, it’s the takeover everyone is talking about.
To get the low-down on all things Tier One, I was delighted to join Paul Blight, the firm’s head of wealth management, for a steak and chips in Pitcher & Piano on Newcastle’s famous quayside.
A north-east man through-and-through, Blight is now based out by Tyneside’s famous coastline.
‘I’ve always been in the north east, and living out by the coast in Tynemouth with my family, which is a real bonus for me. I’ve never really seen a reason to leave the area to be honest - I love it here! There’s no pretence with Geordies… we tend to be pretty straight with our communications, which is an excellent quality to have in financial advice!’
While Blight’s locale hasn’t changed, the last few years have seen a period of evolution for him and the team.
‘I joined Tier One Capital Wealth Management (as Carrick Financial Management is now known) in 2007, and the business was acquired by Tier One Capital in 2019. I think there is a real synergy between the two companies, and it felt like a natural development for the business to become a part of Tier One Capital.’
‘Outside of the financial advice business, Tier One Capital is also the appointed investment adviser and fund manager to Develop North PLC, a LSE-listed investment company focused on providing property development finance. The investment trust places particular emphasis on the north of England and Scotland.’
In an era of mergers, acquisitions and centralisation in the world of wealth management, Blight assures me that the change in ownership hasn’t adversely affected the bespoke approach he takes to client relationships.
‘We don’t want a fully standardised process in which clients are put into a particular strategy and they all end up with similar outcomes. Each client is different, and the key thing for us is understanding their plans and aspirations for the future, so we can build a robust financial plan, taking into consideration their level of risk tolerance and the investment returns they require to turn their aspirations into reality’.
There is no doubt that this year has not been easy. The war in Ukraine, the cost-of-living crisis, and political turmoil in the UK have created a cocktail of uncertainty and that has been reflected in returns across the board. Blight is however optimistic that his vocation can shine in such an environment.
‘Regular, consistent, and clear communication is vital. We’ll have at least three or four touch points with a client each year, and it’s years like this year where we can really add value. We know our primary responsibility is to grow or preserve wealth, but we can also add a lot of value by reassuring clients during times of market uncertainty.’
On that positive note, we finish our respective steak and chips. After a very enjoyable lunch and chat with Blight, I take a nostalgic walk along the Quayside as I head back to the centre of the greatest city in the world.
Glass half full or half empty?
Glass half full
‘I’m optimistic about the future of financial advice in general. In volatile times, there’s so much value in having a trusted adviser who can put everything into context and reassure you that your wealth is on the right track. In a world of growing automation and standardisation, I remain very optimistic that the more traditional hands-on approach to financial advice will work well for our clients.’
Glass half empty
‘As the year progresses, we are becoming increasingly concerned about the strength of the UK economy and the recent apparent disconnect between the politicians and the Bank of England, but rising inflation remains a threat that must be controlled.
That said, now more than ever, people require impartial, focused advice to help them plot their way to a secure financial future. In some respects, the demand for our services is likely to rise in the years ahead on the back of ongoing uncertainty and financial pressures.’
Paul Blight was speaking to Citywire's Ross Miller. Read the full article here.