A celebrity financial adviser enlisted by PR guru Max Clifford to help wealthy clients is aiming to grow his Midland-based company with a string of acquisitions.
Frank Cochran, founder of FSC Investment Services in Wolverhampton, which advises TV stars and footballers, plans to buy-out a number of IFA firms – as the sector moves towards change in light of the retail distribution review by the Financial Services Authority.
The 52-year old’s group of companies, including London-based Celebrity Financial Planning (CFP) and a concierge service for shopping and holidays, manages a portfolio of £100 million for 550 wealthy individuals.
His work has included devising a specialist programme for Wolverhampton Wanderers to help its players manage their salaries, as well as other Premiership players.
But keen to stress his firm’s services are not only for celebrities and footballers he plans to grow the core business in 2011.
“We are on the acquisition trail looking at buying up other IFA firms. We are aiming to increase to a portfolio of half a billion in the next two years.” he said.
“We are looking at buying up companies, particularly with the retail distribution review at the end of 2010 which means the industry is going to change. There will be a huge number of IFAs retiring from the market, these guys are usually one man bands that are going to want their clients to be looked after so want an exit strategy and that is what we are focusing on. We have put the plans in place and now we are going to make it work.”
He added: “Everyone wants to know how much celebrities and footballers earn, the truth is some are embarrassed because they don’t earn enough or because they earn too much.
“We want to take away the stigma that you don’t have to be a celebrity to afford financial advice. That’s the last thing we want. The general public need advice more than ever. The marketplace is crying out for us to help people make the most of what money they have, build up tax-free cash, offer a portfolio of low risk investments.”
Born in Glasgow, Mr Cochran moved to Coventry with his family as a youngster where he completed school. He pursued a career as a BT engineer but discovered during an apprenticeship scheme it wasn’t for him. Through a friend’s uncle who was then manager of the Coventry Co-op Funeral Service he became a funeral director. After 12 months he realised the only way to make money in the business was buy one, which at 18 he couldn’t afford.
His job search led him to Unilever in Birmingham and through contacts he was able to carve out a career path in financial services, earning £6,300 in one month, in 1979. He worked for a number of high profile financial firms from Crown Life to Royal Life but after being made redundant for the second time chose to go it alone.
He set up FSC Investment Services in 1989 from home but expanded quickly into offices in Codsall and two years later – its current home in Waterloo Road where 11 people are based. Mr Cochran admits he was bored after doing the “bread and butter” stuff for so long. He got into advising celebs two years ago after attending a Royal Variety Club dinner.
He realised, talking to some of the guests, that they were not receiving specialist financial advice but turning to their accountant, lawyer or bank manager to manage their cash.
Today, confidentiality prevents him from naming his clients, many who were referred on by Max Clifford. One client that can be spoken of is Kerry Katona. Mr Cochran was hired by the former face of retailer Iceland to help track down her missing millions and he was the person who broke news of her marriage split with Mark Croft to the media.
“I searched the internet and there wasn’t one firm who were specifically financial advisers to celebrities and sports people. I wanted to fill the niche so I got office accommodation in Devonshire Square in London. The big break I got was a phone call from Max Clifford, I thought it was a joke at first but went to meet him. He said that because I had started looking after some of his clients he wanted to know more. He acknowledged that I offered a service he couldn’t. His business is about promotion and protection and the source of problems is too much spare cash. So we started working together.”
Mr Cochran began to get regular calls from wealthy individuals and then became involved with neighbours Wolverhampton Wanderers.
“We wanted to get into football in a big way and our offices are opposite Molineux. It was a case of speaking to the young players in the squad to help them cope well massive amounts of money. We put in place a Young Players Jump Start scheme – designed for young players and apprentices. It teaches them public relations, about how to use their money better – every aspect about the financial relationship between a player and a club. To some clubs, players are a piece of meat and I think what we’ve got is something unique because it helps the players to concentrate on being good at what they do.
“Footballers have got 180 pay days – if you look at the average length of their career, so they have got to make that money work.”