Fenton Simpson Financial Services

Must business success spell personal sacrifice?

Commercial success has come relatively easily for my clients Chris Simpson and Mark Fenton.

Financial advisers so respected by their customers that they survived and thrived through the Credit Crunch, they’re now turning their attention to the above question.

Expecting to double the size of their York-based firm this year, their main objective is to extend the quality time they spend with their families.

I believe that personal balance is fundamental to professional achievement, so I’m delighted to help them with this…

A contradiction in terms?

It might seem like a tall order to plan more time off while doubling turnover, but that’s exactly what Chris Simpson and his business partner Mark Fenton are hoping to achieve.

“We’ve not been able to take many holidays in the past and we typically work five-and-a-half days a week,” said Chris. “We want to get to the stage where we’re working four days a week and taking two more weeks holiday a year.”

Both family men, Mark would like to indulge his 16-year-old son’s football hobby, while Chris simply wants to spend more time with wife and their seven-year-old daughter.

“We’re hopeful that working with Ros will give us the focus we need to finally make that happen,” added Chris.

Keeping eyes on a distinct horizon

“As many school reports famously say, we were doing well before we met Ros but could do better,” Chris continued. “She has helped us identify the gaps in our aspirations and do something about them. When the financials are doing OK it’s easy to rest on your laurels a bit, but she’s helped us see the untapped potential in our brokerage.

“Most importantly of all, she is helping us to unlock the personal potential in ourselves and aim for a better quality of life as well.”

He added: “Before meeting Ros, we were archetypal business owners, too busy doing the job to steer the ship in any particular direction. She got us to write down our vision and the goals we needed to achieve to move towards it.”
Having an external perspective was crucial. “We couldn’t have done this ourselves, as we were too involved to look at things objectively.”

Out of the eye of the storm

Friends since 1972, when they were seven and four-years-old respectively, Chris and Mark have fared well despite running a business selling financial products at the height of the worst global crisis on record.

They set up Fenton & Simpson in 2003 and, after four good years, watched the world collapse around them. “Although some of our team had to go onto reduced hours, we were lucky not to have to make anyone redundant,” said Chris.

Thanks to their ethical practices and strong customer relationships, not only did their company survive while 90% of broker businesses collapsed, this market shrinkage proved a powerful springboard for expansion.“We’re now fishing in a much smaller pond, and have seen our greatest ever growth as a result,” continued Chris.

Over the last three years, thanks to economic stimulii including historically low interest rates, consumer confidence has returned and house prices and saleability are almost back to pre-credit crunch levels.He and Mark now employ 13 people and expect that to increase to 16 by the summer. If they hit their target of doubling turnover over the next 12 to 15 months, future growth could be ‘unlimited’, as Chris puts it.

Incremental changes for big results

What’s their secret?

Clear goals and accountability, according to Chris.

“Ros has lots of little strategies for making us commit to doing the things we need to do,” he said.

“She makes us diarise periods of time to work on our business, and then holds us responsible for completing tasks we’ve committed to. Without her help, these would just get shelved in favour of the most pressing work priority on any given day.

“She also helps us make decisions. As a result, we’ve achieved a great deal already, including appointing an office manager to deal with our day-to-day administration and free us up to focus on strategy.

“The mere fact of having her in the room, acting as a sounding board and asking us the right questions, has brought us on in leaps and bounds and we’re excited for the future.”