Keith has been working in the world of financial services for 57 years and a certificate from The Chartered Insurance Institute in recognition of 50 years of membership hangs proudly in his office.
His journey started in 1963 at Royal Insurance in Carlisle and Liverpool as a trainee life underwriter, at one time assisting with medical examinations. In 1969, he joined Standard Life in Bolton and Manchester as a new business inspector and then a group pension scheme consultant before moving on to start his own life and pensions consultancy alongside a general insurance practice in Leigh in 1975, which was taken over by C E Heath in 1987.
From 1991, Keith helped to start and build Greystone Financial Services in Altrincham and London.
He ‘retired’ from advising in 2002 but stayed on as chairman and was involved in the successful takeover of Greystone by Focus Financial Partners of New York in 2008.
He successfully completed his IFA diploma examinations in 2013, not to advise again but to prove to himself he could do it and to set an example to his up-and-coming colleagues.
Keith said: “I decided to retire completely in December 2015, but you can only play bad golf twice a week, and so when I got a call from Clarion founder Ron Walker in 2016, I jumped at the chance to join Clarion as the Non-Executive Chairman and Investment Committee Member, I also support PR and communications with articles I write and keep strong relationships with clients, some of whom I have been involved with for decades.
“I can honestly say that I’ve enjoyed every minute of my time in financial services. I have been very, very lucky. I’ve had a fantastic journey and met some wonderful people. Our business is all about relationships and I have had many great ones over the years.”
For John, his journey into financial services started when he was 17. He secured a part-time job after college, at a mortgage brokerage, booking appointments for advisers.
It is no surprise to us that the company thought he was good in that role, offering to pay for him to sit his CeMAP exams and put a development plan in place to move him into the role of a Mortgage Adviser. John was just 18 when he began advising clients.
With a desire to provide advice to clients on their wider financial affairs, he joined HBOS at 19 and was fast-tracked through an intensive training programme to become a Personal Financial Adviser, a role he enjoyed but he had his eyes on the world of the IFA.
John said: “I then joined Chase De Vere and was introduced to Keith about 10 years ago via my dentist, of all people.
“The purpose of my first meeting with Keith was to pick the brains of someone experienced in the industry over a coffee and get some general career guidance, however, about 10 minutes into the meeting I distinctly remember Keith stating this is becoming a job interview, isn’t it John? As they say, the rest is history!
“I joined Keith at Greystone and got my first real taste of providing holistic financial advice, a move to a regional IFA practice followed, keeping in touch with Keith throughout as a mentor. When Keith joined Clarion, he thought it would be an ideal fit for me and after several persuasive coffees and an introduction to Ron Walker, I absolutely agreed!”
John and Keith bring a real blend of experience and knowledge to Clarion – intergenerational work at its finest, which brings benefits to our clients.
John said: “I think Clarion clients get the best of both worlds – from Keith (and Ron too), professional and life experiences are shared and that helps to inform certain business decisions and also the way in which advice is delivered.
“From me and the other advisers, who are all 40 or under, we can comment on current trends and ensure that Clarion also appeals to the next generation of wealth. That might mean that I suggest Keith uses an Elon Musk quote in his monthly investment commentary, rather than Winston Churchill… again!
“Ultimately, it helps to ensure we appeal to a multitude of clients and our approach resonates with a 30-year-old tech entrepreneur as much as a 70-year-old retired engineer.”
Keith added: “What better than a blend of experience, maturity, and a bit of grey hair combined with the vibrance and fertile mind of youth?
“John is a brilliant adviser, excellent at finding solutions and solving problems. My experience and older hat approach help to fine-tune them and brings an element of “life experience”.
“He also knows more about the techie side of the business. I had never, ever done or felt comfortable with a Zoom meeting with a client until I sat in on a couple with John.”
John added: “I was hoping Keith would say that I showed him how to access a Zoom/Teams meeting. But in all seriousness though, Keith has taught me the importance of relationships.
“From our relationship and how that has helped me to forge a successful career as a financial planner to Keith’s relationships with clients. Most of his relationships go back decades and some as far back as the certificate in his office would suggest. Other professionals to this day introduce potential clients to Clarion as they ‘have to meet Keith Thompson!’”
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