Cashing in on the Vogue Vogue for Pensions Flexibility; Sophie Freeman Meets ANGUS MILLEN, Principal of Millen Financial Management
Byline: Sophie Freeman
ANGUS MILLEN starts by saying: 'You and I both know that there are millions of independent financial advisers out there and most of them are complete idiots, I feel, just flogging policies with commissions. I've always tried t o be a bit different.'
Millen set up his Southport financial management firm just over six years ago and now handles client funds of more than pounds 35m.
'We are, on the tin, independent financial advisers, that's what we're qualified to do, but really all we focus on is two things - self-invested pension plans (SIPPs), and alternative investments,' he says. He advises clients who have a minimum of pounds 100,000 to invest and charges flat rates rather than fees based on a percentage of the fund value.
'SIPPs are the biggest investment boom product that I've ever seen,' he says, 'and we've been banging their drum for three or four years now.'
He explains how more and more people are now abandoning their traditional pensions and stakeholder plans for these more flexible investment packages.
Government changes in pension fund management mean that for a short 12-month window, pension-holders can transfer all their funds directly into commercial property.
Millen has spent the last two years putting in place links with some of the region's biggest property groups to take advantage of this window and has also teamed up with Andy Bell, an actuary who he describes as 'the country's leading SIPPs guru,' t o cut out the insurance middle men.
He explains how he is now able to fast-track funds to the right properties before they go on the market and respond to pressure from investors, who, he says, have grown increasingly mistrustful of conventional pension schemes.
'People have seen traditional pensions perform consistently badly,' he says, 'and are used to their financial advisers giving them the 'good' news that although their funds have decreased, they have out-performed the market.
'All that means is they haven't lost quite as much as someone else.
'Working together with ur property r partners makes total sense as it means we can put together investment syndicates, perhaps four or six investors, each with funds of pounds 100,000 plus to buy larger properties.'
On the day we meet, Millen is wearing a yellow Live Strong band made famous by cancer sufferer Lance Armstrong. He explains how the cyclist, who fought the illness to win the Tour de France, is a particular inspiration to him. A keen triathlete - Millen confesses to recently installing a rowing machine and shower in the office so he can train more - he also enjoys fundraising for the Teenage Cancer Trust. Last month he organised a ball in aid of the charity at the Royal Birkdale golf club (where he has a handicap of seven) and guest of honour was Marc Woods, four times Paralympic gold medal winner. …