Eldon Financial Planning co-directors Joss Harwood and Tony Conner, who are both Chartered and Certified Financial Planners, have returned from honeymoon after marrying last month.
It has been a momentous few months for Ms Harwood, 59, who also decided she will be retiring at the end of this year after 40 years in financial services.
Following a surprise proposal from Mr Connor after a decade together, the couple were married in April at Headlam Hall, near Darlington.
There was an extra day off for all their colleagues who joined family and friends for a lively celebration including a ceilidh (Gaelic word for gathering) that lasted “well into the night”.
Ms Harwood said: “What a fabulous day we all had, with a beautiful venue, great food, entertainment, and a free bar.”
Ms Harwood said her plans for her exit were well established, with clients having met several other members of the team over the past two years. The transition of business ownership has been cleared via HMRC and settled, she explained.
She de-authorised in December and is working part time this year to say farewell to clients whose relationships go back up to 28 years.
Mr Conner will continue for a few more years before the ‘younger ones’ will take over the firm. Gemma Siddle is already a director and with two others, a shareholder.
Ms Harwood said: “Everyone is happy that it will be ‘business as usual’ for clients and colleagues with no external business sale.
“The business is strong thanks to Tony’s management and I am able to extract value for retirement without ‘rocking the boat’ at all. We don’t need to sell to a third party - it has always baffled me how you can sell ‘people’, and ours is a ‘people’ business.
“There is no scope for cynical investment churning within our business anyway.”
Pictured below: Joss and members of the Eldon team
Below: Gemma Siddle is now a director
Below: Jon Bean is one of Eldon's Financial Planners
She told FP Today: “I am very happy to be retiring and am ready for it. I have done a full shift as I didn’t have children and haven’t had a break in 40 years. I have also had a brush with cancer.
“I know that I have helped very many people to achieve financial independence and to meet their own personal goals and I am proud of my work.”
She said: “My retirement is indeed a case of ‘practise what you preach’. We believe that as planners, we should be able to organise our own affairs properly and it surprises me that apparently, so few Financial Planners get themselves organised for their preferred exit.
“Our aim at Eldon was always to separate our own personal financial security from the firm’s, and we have achieved that, giving us flexibility and choice at the end of our careers. Owen retired several years ago and now it is my turn. I am very happy with the value that I will take with me.”
The plan is for Mr Conner to carry on for up to five years, gradually winding down before stepping aside with his share of the value.
Ms Harwood said: “The business still needs his expertise as the younger colleagues continue to grow. I believe that Tony is one of the best Financial Planners in the UK, having a huge technical library in his memory, with the ability to see the ‘bigger picture’ as well as work with detail. Add to that his background in accountancy, experience successfully running businesses, uncompromising, honesty and his easy relationship with clients and you have the full package.
“I am biased - I just married him! But I know that he is held in very high regard by those who understand and appreciate his skills. He doesn’t seek the limelight though and goes about his work quietly, so Eldon’s spokesperson will be one of our younger colleagues going forward.”
As for her plans for her spare time now, she said: “I am looking forward to spending more time at home, just taking things more slowly and getting out and about with my dog and my horse. I also hope to get back into masters athletics as there are still some hurdles records that I would like to break!”
Below, left, Joss, after a sporting challenge