Gavin, a senior partner at Blevins Franks, first came to the Algarve with his family from Brunei in 2000. “We were looking for a financial adviser position in Europe where our eldest daughter (11 at the time) could find an international secondary school to avoid the prospect of boarding school as would have been the case in the Far East,” Gavin told The Portugal News.
“Both girls went on to attend the International School of the Algarve at Porches. What we were looking for was a school, what we found was an established and respected wealth management firm with depth of knowledge and strong corporate governance. That was the best find of my life, after my wife Joan of course.”
Gavin holds the Diploma for Financial Advisers (DipFA) and the full UK Financial Planning Certificate. He is a member of the Personal Finance Society by Certificate and has attended wealth planning and investments courses in Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and Sydney as well as Rome and London, a little closer to home.
As a Senior Partner, in addition to advising his own clients on their financial affairs, he also runs the Portugal branches of Blevins Franks, a leading international tax and wealth management company advising UK nationals living in Europe, in Loulé and Cascais. There are also five other Partners and 14 members of support and administrative staff.
Keeping up to date
Dealing with personal finances requires a wide breadth of knowledge and experience. Gavin explains: “All UK qualified financial advisers have to undertake over 35 hours of structured learning and personal development in order to obtain an annually renewable certificate of professional standing. At Blevins Franks we have a team of Chartered Tax Advisers that keep our technical library up to date and we have a number of ‘mandatory reads’ every year that cover the current rules and changes to the Portuguese tax code as well as any changes to the UK regulatory framework.
“This has been further complicated this year by Brexit and the regulatory requirements within Portugal and across Europe.Meanwhile, The Portugal News keeps me up to date locally,” he added.
So just what makes Blevins Franks different from other similar companies? “The Blevins Franks model is quite unique in that every client is looked after by a Private Client Manager as well as the Partner that provided the original strategic financial planning report and introduced them to the firm,” said Gavin.
“The Private Client Manager (PCM) is responsible for ensuring that every client receives a regular review of their entire financial, wealth and succession planning to ensure that the original strategic plan is being followed. That process ensures that, among other things, the client’s investment portfolios remain aligned to their attitude to risk and that whatever life events happen, their wealth is in the right hands at the right time.
“At Blevins Franks we take a multi-generational view of our clients tax, wealth and succession planning. All of our Partners live and work in the country that our clients live in or are moving to and our support staff are here in Portugal as well. Partners and PCMs have access to international tax and pensions specialists with the Blevins Franks Group providing a dedicated technical resource unmatched by other financial services practices.
“So while there are many imitators (which is truly flattering) we have very few true competitors with such highly qualified (many have chartered status) and regulated advisers. The size and stature of Blevins Franks opens doors to financial institutions and a quality of advice that is not available to retail investors.”
The personal touch
When you think of financial planning you may imagine spreadsheets and complicated analysis, however there is a very human side of the business that Gavin cherishes.
“For sure, the most enjoyable part of my work is the interaction with clients and the pleasure that I get from seeing a job well done. There is no greater joy than when a client recommends a friend to me and as 80 percent of our new clients come to us that way it’s very rewarding indeed.
“Over the past 20 years the word ‘client’ has become synonymous with ‘friend’ which has made Portugal home to me. The founding Partner, David Franks had a philosophy that our clients are the business. It seems obvious but not always understood.
He used to say that if you put the client at the centre of every decision that you make then you will have a stronger business for that. That ethos is at the heart of everything that we do today and it has given me a peaceful sleep for the past 7,451 nights.”
Gavin also prides himself on being a “hands on” member of the team, whose door is always open. “I’m still seeing clients regularly and my door is always open to the other Partners who often come into my office to discuss a complicated case or to share a good idea. I often wish there were more hours in the day to be able to get involved more closely in other aspects of the business but I’m sure my colleagues are quite happy that I can’t!”
Looking to the future
The future regarding financial planning for British expats has recently been made considerably more confusing thanks to Brexit, however Gavin is confident about the future; “Brexit has created some confusion (that might be understated). That has been positive for Blevins Franks as more people require a guiding hand to ensure a smooth transition from the UK to Portugal.
“I don’t believe it will have a detrimental effect on the numbers of people moving to Portugal in the future even if there is a bit more paperwork to complete to get here. The attractions of lifestyle and the temptations of a benign tax environment will continue to bring British nationals to Portugal. My advice to people concerned would be to get professional advice from people that understand the process and have been dealing with these issues for over 40 years.”
And the attraction of Portugal continues for Gavin: “I think I enjoy the people of the Algarve the most. When we talk about lifestyle, it’s often our interaction with the people that makes us happy or sad. The people of the Algarve are generally happy people (that may be a reflection of the climate) and that makes me happy.”
Blevins Franks Wealth Management Limited (BFWML) is authorised and regulated by the Malta Financial Services Authority, registered number C 92917. Authorised to conduct investment services under the Investment Services Act and authorised to carry out insurance intermediary activities under the Insurance Distribution Act. Where advice is provided outside of Malta via the Insurance Distribution Directive or the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive II, the applicable regulatory system differs in some respects from that of Malta. BFWML also provides taxation advice; its tax advisers are fully qualified tax specialists. Blevins Franks Trustees Limited is authorised and regulated by the Malta Financial Services Authority for the administration of trusts, retirement schemes and companies. This promotion has been approved and issued by BFWML.