A Year In Review: Life at boosst 2021
2021 began in lockdown across the UK after a somewhat frustrating and covid-interrupted Christmas period. This dark and gloomy winter was no real surprise given the arrival of the most recent covid variant and so we hatched a plan to bring joy and smiles to homes across the UK. We reached out to the fantastic comedian Jo Caulfield and hosted a comedy show on Zoom to lift spirits. Over 150 of you attended and the night was a huge success.
Back in January we also introduced better holiday booking software for the team, called ‘Timetastic’. It enables everyone to track their holiday usage, book time off and arrange charity days. As an application it is small but mighty and has really improved ‘life admin’ for the team.
With a spring in our step and Jo’s best punchlines on our lips, we soon found ourselves beyond January and entering February. We shared the wonderful results of our Individual Client Survey by posting an Infographic with some of the highlights and your best quotes. 177 of you completed the survey and from that group, 164 said they are ‘very satisfied’ with the services boosst are providing their families.
Our prize winners were Jan & Charlotte, who won the service of a private chef to cook for a dinner party in their own home. And it wasn’t just Jan & Charlotte celebrating a win in February, as we were also awarded the title of ‘Best Financial Planning Firm in the East of England’
We also migrated our data storage to a new cloud provider in February. Whilst this may not be the most glamorous thing to mention in this review of 2021, it was a great upgrade to make and has improved home-working for the team throughout the year.
Rishi Sunak unleashed his Budget at the beginning of March – and this brought a raft of changes to personal finance legislation. Notable changes were the freezing of personal tax thresholds, freezing the Pension Lifetime Allowance and a promise to increase Corporation Tax over the coming years. These announcements created some planning opportunities which we have been exploring with you at your planning meetings over the last nine months.
On the 4th March, Keith and Josh were invited to speak at the CISI’s annual Financial Planning Conference for Accredited Firms. This is an elite group of the UK’s very best financial planning firms and there are currently 66 companies which make the grade. boosst had been invited to speak having been crowned the Accredited Financial Planning Firm of the Year in 2020 and we shared some of our best ideas with our colleagues across the profession. Sharing our best ideas may sound slightly odd…. but one of the lovely things about the financial planning profession is that all of the best firms share a common interest in improving the profession and we work within a great community of likeminded firms who openly share best practice. The event was of course virtual, which meant we could share our presentation from the comfort of the office.
By March we had also built a plan for the roles we wanted to recruit as we emerged from the lockdown and launched a new careers page on our website to help attract new boossties in a competitive job market. We were taking some drone photos for the new webpage and were blessed by a landing swan to give us the perfect shot!
In April we passed the anniversary of the 2020 market lows and we shared two blogs. The first was The Dilemma Of Trying To ‘Do The Right Thing’ When Investing and it explored how the (more obvious) choice to sell your shares in polluting companies is not necessarily the most impactful way to invest with a sustainable (ESG) mindset. The insight focused on how sometimes you need to be a shareholder and use sustainability-minded funds to exercise your voting rights to illicit meaningful change. Simply disinvesting only pushes the problem onto someone else. The second insight we shared was Let’s Talk About Risk: Coconuts V Sharks and this insight looked at how certain risks can be taken out of context. It is not unusual for investors to find themselves worrying about the wrong things. One of our many roles is to ensure that you do not get distracted by media headlines or short-term portfolio returns, when instead your focus is better placed on the tangible risks to your financial plan… like poor health or losing a key household income.
We also welcomed Nick to the team in April following a successful launch of our new careers webpage. Nick is a highly technical paraplanner and has since grown to oversee most of our support team and the day-to-day support work that goes on behind the scenes here at boosst. He is already Chartered and is currently tackling his Certified Financial Planner qualification.
Near the end of the month, Josh was interviewed by the software developers who build some of our financial planning tools and asked to share his experience and current thinking on financial planning assumptions. The recording was subsequently broken down into bitesize snippets and combined with the thoughts of other leading planners before being shared with the UK financial planning community as ‘best practice’. The ‘assumptions’ within a financial plan are an incredibly important element of robust planning… and making poor assumptions can have a significant and damaging impact. At boosst we use centralised assumptions which are reasoned and reasonable – and if you like understanding the ‘nuts and bolts’ of your own plan, we will be very happy to discuss the assumptions used in your plan at our next meeting!
May arrived in Hulcote and it brought plenty of sunshine… so much so that the lake lost a couple of inches to evaporation! As the world began to reopen we welcomed journalists to the office for a photoshoot and a magazine article that had been deferred since the New Year. A funny memory that jumps out was when the photographer asked Keith and Josh to pose ‘like father and son’, so Josh jumped on Keith for a piggyback. Miraculously and rather comically, this photo was actually published!
Another highlight from May was our first ‘You Asked’ insight, which focused on carbon offsetting. One of our key learnings from the December Client Survey was that you, our clients, like to come to us with questions not necessarily related to financial planning. We are seen as an independent source of trusted advice and your survey responses showed that you value our thinking. With this in mind we wanted to answer some of the tougher questions which we face in modern society, such as: What is carbon offsetting? How can you reduce your personal emissions to live a more sustainable lifestyle? If you wish to offset your carbon, how can you find reputable projects which will have a credible positive impact? You can read the insight HERE. Our next ‘You Asked’ insight is currently in production and will be released soon…
Josh was invited to speak at the NextGen Planners Global Conference in June and he shared the key findings from his Masters Degree – which had kept him busy during the 2020 lockdown. His research had explored how families with and without children plan differently for retirement and broke down his findings into bitesize chunks for financial planners around the world to use with their own clients.
Our June insight was warning investors away from the gamble that is Bitcoin. Cryptocurrencies had recently rallied to an all-time-high and public interest was at a new peak. Our post encouraged curious onlookers to dabble with money they are willing to lose but reminded all that this is not a replacement for a traditional asset-backed investment portfolio when it comes to long-term investing for your families financial security and future lifestyle.
Our lovely clients (that’s you!) continued to spread the message that we’re doing a good job. This example from Sharon was spotted by Dawn on the Milton Keynes Redway Runners Facebook group. We cannot say how much we appreciate your kind comments. Our business continues to grow and create jobs through word of mouth and your referrals. We are hugely grateful every time you mention us to a friend – it really does make a huge difference. Other quick wins to help our cause include clicking ‘like’ or ‘share’ on our LinkedIn posts and leaving us a Google Review.
The team was starting to venture out a little more in July. The good weather was encouraging us all to get away for short staycations and attending loved ones’ summer weddings. We also continued our virtual team socials to maintain social distancing where possible – a July highlight was an art class with local artist Rachel Baker. Whilst some of our efforts were pretty good… some of us should probably stick to financial planning! Laura had recently joined the team as a paraplanner and made a very strong impression with her stunning effort.
Some of the team started to return to our lakeside office in August and they were joined by Riah – another new boosstie. Riah had first contacted us in November 2020 and then joined us for work experience (on Zoom!) early in 2021. She then impressively self-taught her way through the first couple of financial planning exams, which lead to us offering her the opportunity to join our award-winning bright to boosst development programme in August. She has since settled in very well and has already passed another exam!
As the team began returning to the office we introduced new software called Officely – which allowed the team to easily book desks in the office. This was super helpful as we gradually returned to the office on a rota – and Officely helped us to manage the rota, monitor the number of people in the office on any given day and ensure we had sufficient spacing.
We then had something quite spectacular and unexpected happen when our lakeside office was shortlisted alongside a handful of very impressive buildings by the Business Green Leaders Awards as the ‘Green Building of the Year 2021’. This was incredibly flattering when you take a look at the other shortlisted buildings, which included 1 Triton Square and 100 Liverpool Street! We posted an insight which highlighted some of the eco-friendly features we included in our office design. You can access it HERE.
We also welcomed our network of likeminded accountants and solicitors to Church View for our first in-person Professionals Event for some 18 months. We fired up the pizza oven and delivered an educational seminar between slices, with the help of a guest speaker who gave a brilliant talk on Employee Ownership Trusts as a structure for business succession. It was a great event and we received really positive feedback from all that attended.
With COVID calming down and the team back in the office on a rota, things really started to ramp up in September and October. Our two new financial planners Tom & Jo joined us mid-September and got stuck into learning ‘the boosst way’ and meeting some of the clients for whom they are the lead planner. Tom is a Chartered Financial Planner and is working with a group of our individual clients, most of whom he has now been able to speak to or meet virtually for the first time. Jo is an experienced financial planner and was quickly up to speed working alongside Keith to serve our enterprise members. She also looks after some of our individual clients who enjoy our a little boosst service.
October saw a return to in-person events, with six of the team attending the annual Financial Planning Conference, which was conveniently hosted at the Red Bull Factory here in Milton Keynes. We were treated to a tour of their (very) impressive design and manufacturing facilities before a presentation by Rob Marshall, the Chief Engineering Officer at Red Bull. Later in the day Josh was back onstage, this time taking part in a debate to argue ‘for’ the motion that financial planning firms should do more to engage with the next generation. This is something we are very passionate about and you will be seeing more from us on this topic in 2022.
October was a memorable month for Laura as she walked down the aisle at the beautiful Shearsby Bath in the rural Leicestershire countryside to become Mrs George on Saturday 23rd.
We then had the idea to host a private screening of No Time To Die for clients at the Odeon in Milton Keynes. The final instalment of Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond was a thriller and everyone left the building with smiles on their faces… always a good sign!
We were able to celebrate excellence once more in November. boosst was once again named a ‘Top 100’ Financial Planning firm and just a couple of days later, both Gabby and Josh were included in Citywire’s ‘35 under 35’ shortlist as leading figures for the future of our profession. It was a proud few days for us all!
We held our most recent Investment Committee Meeting in November and were joined by Tim Hale and his research team at Albion. Whilst there have been no significant structural changes to our portfolios over the past year, we were able to introduce some improved sustainability funds to our ESG portfolios in May and we are now keeping a close eye on two further funds that we plan to introduce in due course. Our overall approach to investing (low cost, evidence-based and utilising mass diversification) has remained successful and unchanged.
Early in December we held our final professionals event of the year and again hosted our friendly accountancy and legal professionals. This time around Keith delivered a deep-dive presentation on the Pension Lifetime Allowance and Josh took our guests on a whistle-stop tour of all things ‘digital assets’ – from cryptocurrencies to blockchain networks, NFTs and the Metaverse.
The final month of 2021 was neatly divided into two halves, as is the annual routine here at boosst. The first two weeks are always devoted to any final client work of the year, followed by one last week together as a team before closing the office for the festive period. We spend that last week together reflecting on the past 12 months and planning for the year ahead. It probably isn’t a surprise to hear that your financial ‘planners’ like to plan ahead for the upcoming year – and this is when we set our projects, goals and milestones for the new year. We were joined by Michelle Hoskin and as a team we have set some exciting goals for 2022.
The office was then closed so that all of the team had the opportunity to take some rest over Christmas with family and loved ones before we catapult into 2022.