Telling the truth about SME life today

30: Financial

Charlie Palmer began working life as a farmer. Today he is the founder and CEO of independent financial advisory company Financial – the 30th fastest-growing private company in the UK. After acquiring In-House Pension Services in 1999, Financial was incorporated in 2000.

Palmer says the company moved into compliance “by fluke” and that it started out by helping friends in the industry who needed a PIA-regulated firm as an umbrella. “The reason we have grown so quickly is because we started with a blank sheet of paper and designed more efficient and robust systems than the competition. This enables us to add new members to the business with little additional capital.”

Palmer also attributes Financial’s 108 per cent growth over the past four years to the surge in regulation of the financial sector. “Red tape is our bread and butter. IFAs join our network to avoid being bogged down in the paperwork and rules put upon them by the Financial Services Authority. It’s also good for the IFA business sector because it increases barriers to entry”

Palmer invested £100,000 in setting up Financial and has never looked at any outside investment: “As a service business that began with clients on the books, the company has enjoyed good cash flow and has been relatively self-funding.”

However, Palmer still gets to enjoy his love of farming – the firm’s head office is based on a working farm outside Cheltenham, with a second office recently opened in


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