“Pensions’ coverage is a ticking timebomb.”–CEO Q&A: John O’Driscoll, Blueprint Financial Planning

Business, CEO Q&A, Finance, Interviews | Wed 29 Aug | Author – Business & Finance
John O’Driscoll, CEO, Blueprint Financial Planning

In our next CEO Q&A, John O’Driscoll of Blueprint Financial Planning speaks about the importance of financial planning advice, empowering clients and working toward a common goal.

Q. What are your main priorities and goals in your role?

When I founded Blueprint Financial Planning it was to improve my clients financial future and help them build a robust plan for their personal, family and business needs. We are wholly client focussed and I think our company mission statement of “empowering our clients to achieve their goals and secure their future through the implementation of a bespoke financial plan” gets to the heart of everything we do.

Q. What are your biggest challenges as CEO?

Like anyone who runs their own business there are numerous challenges on a daily basis, but there are also numerous rewards. You have to wear many different hats, PR, Marketing, Compliance, HR etc. I guess juggling the different areas of the business is the most challenging aspect.

Q. How do you keep your team/staff motivated?

I think if everyone is working towards a common goal that certainly helps. I remember an old manager of mine saying there are two ways to motivate people, by the “stick” or by the “carrot”. Personally, I think the ‘carrot’ option is best, having an incentive to work towards, a good employee benefits package and tangible rewards is the best way to keep staff motivated. The incentive for me is building a business in promoting better financial outcomes for clients.

Q. What are the challenges facing the industry going forward?

They are many to be honest. Pensions’ coverage is a ticking timebomb. A recent life assurance company survey found that 90% of people are not on track with their retirement savings. There is far too much inertia, people burying their head in the sand and taking a “it will be grand” attitude. Pension auto enrolment is due down the line in 2022 but who knows. Secondly, I think there needs to be a reduction in Exit Tax on Investment and Savings policies, it is far too punitive at present and is not fair to tax people at 41% on investment growth. These people are being prudent and putting some money away and are being hammered in tax on monies that they have already paid Income tax, USC and PRSI.

Q. What new trends are emerging in your industry?

There has definitely been a move to what I term “instant gratification product purchase” i.e. people going online to buy life cover or investments at low cost, but there is no advice. When a financial planner sits down with you there is an in-depth review done. There are accurate calculations on the level of life cover needed, taking cognizance of income, number of dependents, level of debt etc. Proper financial planning in my view is vital, it can have a major positive impact on people’s lives, it’s not about buying a policy like it’s a pair of jeans.

Q. Are there any major changes you would like to see in your sector?

I would really love to see the industry being promoted more, financial advisers nowadays are exceptionally well qualified and adhere to the strictest codes of ethics and compliance. I think financial advisers should be viewed as a credible and desirable job for many. I certainly think better promotion from the various stakeholders in the industry is required.

Q. As an employer are you finding any skills gaps in the market?

I think it’s difficult to find well qualified and experienced Life and Pensions administrators.

Q. How did your strategy develop in the context of the banking crisis and economic crisis?

I set my business up post Banking crisis so I was somewhat sheltered. I was working in a brokerage at the time and there had to be consolidation which was necessary, but I think once the fundamentals of a business are sound and a proper robust plan is in place and you aren’t overly reliant on one particular niche sector or customer you will survive.

Q. How will Brexit affect you, or have you started to feel the effects already?

Brexit will affect investment markets which in turn may have a knock-on effect on my clients pension and investment funds so that will be an issue. However, time will eradicate dips in the markets as the saying goes it’s “time in the markets not timing the markets’. I don’t have an import/export business so I think they are the businesses that will be most affected.

Q. How do you define success and what drives you to succeed?

I read an article from a Harvard lecturer called Howard Stevenson whose view is success is four parts Happiness, Achievement, Significance and Legacy, I think that is fairly accurate. Building a business that will become a main stay in the financial services industry and synonymous with quality is what drives me.

Q. What’s the best advice you’ve been given, or would give, in business?

My Dad who has run his own business for over 30 years always says, “You get out of something what you put into it” – I think that is so true. I saw him build his business John O’Driscoll Motor Factors from the ground up and he always stuck to that mantra. You can’t expect success with hard work.

Q. What have been your highlights in business over the past year?

I established Blueprint Financial Planning in January of 2018, the first 7 months have absolutely flown. The highlight was my business and website officially going live on Monday 8th January, an enormous sense of both pride and relief having gone through a lengthy Central Bank registration process.

Q. What’s next for your company?

We hope to grow and take on at least one new adviser in early 2019. We have begun working with a number of companies on employee wellness packages. We are having an official company launch on Thursday 6th September in Skibbereen, West Cork so that is taking up a lot of time at present.

Q. What opportunities or plans for growth do you see in 2018?

Company pension schemes for sure. If companies want to retain staff the employee benefits package needs to be enhanced, its not all about salary. SME’s are now looking at staff pension schemes, health insurance, financial planning workshops so I think that is definitely a growth area.

Q. Where do you want your business/brand to be this time next year?

I would like Blueprint Financial Planning to be recognised as one of Munster’s leading financial planning firms, a trusted adviser and key stakeholder in our clients financial future and wellbeing.

You get out of something what you put into it.


Business & Finance, CEO Q&A

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