Our mission is to help our clients and their families achieve more with their resources, positively impacting their own lives and the lives of their loved ones and creating a better future in a world worth living in.

For more than 20 years we have been helping clients and their families accomplish their dreams. Through developing meaningful and enduring relationships, we are able to help our clients consider their true aspirations and then create a financial roadmap to help them reach those goals. Our strategies reflect our understanding that no two clients are the same and each financial plan is tailored to individual needs, underpinned by our desire to support our clients live happy and fulfilled lives.

Meet the Team

“Having the right team is fundamental to us delivering a service beyond our client’s expectations. Every one of our team is a specialist in what they do but most importantly, they are specialists in people.” David Penney, Chief Executive

David Penney

Founder and Chief Executive

David Penney

Founder and Chief Executive

David was just 28 when he became one of the youngest Partners with St. James’s Place Wealth Management. In the two decades since, he has overseen the business grow to a team of almost 20 with more than 700 clients and in excess of £200m under management. His expertise is Intergenerational wealth, tax and estate planning and ensuring the well-being of all his clients. David is also a staunch advocate for better financial education and outside of work has raised thousands of pounds alongside his wife Beverley for Supporting Nepal’s Children.

WILL HARRISON

Senior Consultant and Director

Will Harrrison

Senior Consultant and Director

Will is a proud Yorkshireman who started his career with one of the large life insurance companies before working for an IFA as a stepping-stone to establishing his own business in 2010 and aligning with St. James’s Place in 2012. The privilege of building potentially life-changing relationships with clients and helping to demystify complex financial situations is what makes Will tick. A Chartered Financial Planner, he will often draw pictures for clients as he helps them through their retirement planning, the latest pension legislation or effective tax strategies. His passion for providing clear and straightforward advice for his clients is matched only by his love of travelling with his young family and sport, having played cricket for Yorkshire and rugby for Sale and England Sevens in a previous life.

STEVEN WOODFORD

Financial Consultant

Steven Woodford

Financial Consultant

Prior to working in financial services, Steven developed software for warships and he brings this analytical and technical approach when working with clients. Steven’s mantra is that for every complex scenario, there is a simple solution. Steven also has extensive experience of investment products and platforms, having previously worked for a major investment bank in the City of London before joining Penney Financial Partners, where he has since become a Chartered Financial Planner. His two children keep him busy outside of work and he barely has time to remember when he was once a scuba diving instructor on the Great Barrier Reef.

David Penney

Founder and Chief Executive

David was just 28 when he became one of the youngest Partners with St. James’s Place Wealth Management. In the two decades since, he has overseen the business grow to a team of almost 20 with more than 700 clients and in excess of £200m under management. His expertise is Intergenerational wealth, tax and estate planning and ensuring the well-being of all his clients. David is also a staunch advocate for better financial education and outside of work has raised thousands of pounds alongside his wife Beverley for Supporting Nepal’s Children.

Will Harrrison

Senior Consultant and Director

Will is a proud Yorkshireman who started his career with one of the large life insurance companies before working for an IFA as a stepping-stone to establishing his own business in 2010 and aligning with St. James’s Place in 2012. The privilege of building potentially life-changing relationships with clients and helping to demystify complex financial situations is what makes Will tick. A Chartered Financial Planner, he will often draw pictures for clients as he helps them through their retirement planning, the latest pension legislation or effective tax strategies. His passion for providing clear and straightforward advice for his clients is matched only by his love of travelling with his young family and sport, having played cricket for Yorkshire and rugby for Sale and England Sevens in a previous life.

Steven Woodford

Financial Consultant

Prior to working in financial services, Steven developed software for warships and he brings this analytical and technical approach when working with clients. Steven’s mantra is that for every complex scenario, there is a simple solution. Steven also has extensive experience of investment products and platforms, having previously worked for a major investment bank in the City of London before joining Penney Financial Partners, where he has since become a Chartered Financial Planner. His two children keep him busy outside of work and he barely has time to remember when he was once a scuba diving instructor on the Great Barrier Reef.

Sam Johnston

Financial Consultant

SAM JOHNSTON

Financial Consultant

A graduate of the prestigious St. James’s Place Academy, Sam is passionate about creating effective, efficient and relatable financial plans for his clients. Based in our Cheltenham office, Sam has a particular focus working with contractors and helping them gain financial clarity, certainty and security in what can be an uncertain world. Passionate about sport and fundraising, he has helped raise more than £30,000 through numerous golf days and a white-collar boxing bout.

Thomas Kelly

Head of Operations

THOMAS KELLY

Head of Operations

Apart from some youthful fishmongery, Thomas has clocked more than 30 years in the financial services sector. In his early career Thomas worked in retail banking before working for an IFA where he was technical manager for 12 years. Prior to joining the practice, Thomas worked for a specialist pensions provider as its Head of Operations. Today Thomas is the engine room of our business – helping drive everyone towards the goals and targets that we set ourselves. Ensuring that every colleague has the right support – be it technical, practical or emotional – at the right time is what gets him out of bed in the morning. He is also a quiz stalwart and is a longstanding charity quiz night organiser and compere.

Nina Sahota

Head of Client Services

Nina Sahota

Head of Client Services

Nobody can doubt’s Nina’s pedigree when it comes to understanding the business, having worked under the St. James’s Place umbrella since graduating with her Law LLB Hons degree from the University of Birmingham 20 years ago. She initially worked for another Partner Practice when the company had just changed from J Rothschild Assurance to St. James’s Place and two years later, she joined The David Penney Practice - and has been with us ever since. Nina is responsible for the overall delivery of client services and there is not a computer yet invented that will diminish her passion for interacting and assisting our clients. In short, if our clients are happy then Nina’s happy.

SAM JOHNSTON

Financial Consultant

A graduate of the prestigious St. James’s Place Academy, Sam is passionate about creating effective, efficient and relatable financial plans for his clients. Based in our Cheltenham office, Sam has a particular focus working with contractors and helping them gain financial clarity, certainty and security in what can be an uncertain world. Passionate about sport and fundraising, he has helped raise more than £30,000 through numerous golf days and a white collar boxing bout.

THOMAS KELLY

Head of Operations

Apart from some youthful fishmongery, Thomas has clocked more than 30 years in the financial services sector. In his early career Thomas worked in retail banking before working for an IFA where he was technical manager for 12 years. Prior to joining the practice, Thomas worked for a specialist pensions provider as its Head of Operations. Today Thomas is the engine room of our business – helping drive everyone towards the goals and targets that we set ourselves. Ensuring that every colleague has the right support – be it technical, practical or emotional – at the right time is what gets him out of bed in the morning. He is also a quiz stalwart and is a longstanding charity quiz night organiser and compere.

Nina Sahota

Head of Client Services

Nobody can doubt’s Nina’s pedigree when it comes to understanding the business, having worked under the St. James’s Place umbrella since graduating with her Law LLB Hons degree from the University of Birmingham 20 years ago. She initially worked for another Partner Practice when the company had just changed from J Rothschild Assurance to St. James’s Place and two years later, she joined The David Penney Practice - and has been with us ever since. Nina is responsible for the overall delivery of client services and there is not a computer yet invented that will diminish her passion for interacting and assisting our clients. In short, if our clients are happy then Nina’s happy.

Rob Hawkins

Business Development Consultant

Rob Hawkins

Business Development Consultant

Rob is another colleague with a strong St. James’s Place Wealth Management pedigree having enjoyed a successful 23-year career at the firm. His most recent role at St. James’s Place was as Head of Division Private Clients but prior to that he held a number of positions across the business including in training & development and communications. A Cotswold resident for more than a quarter of a century, Rob has brought his extensive client experience and local knowledge to help develop our Cheltenham office, which was opened in 2019. Joining Penney Financial Partners was not the only exciting recent appointment for Rob having also secured a volunteering role at the Cotswold Wildlife Park where he is learning a good deal about lemurs.

Linda Askey

Senior Paraplanner

Linda Askey

Senior Paraplanner

Linda has worked with David for 15 years and is currently a Senior Paraplanner, primarily supporting the Consultants by writing reports for investments although her general experience is an invaluable asset for the smooth running of the practice. In a previous life Linda worked as a legal executive with experience across a range of specialisms including family, commercial law and will & trusts. Outside work you will find her with the grandchildren or playing golf although unfortunately not yet at the same time.

Jo Jackson

Paraplanner

Jo Jackson

Paraplanner

Investment and tax research, viability analysis and compiling client strategy documents are all in a day’s work for Jo. Providing merchandising support for her sons and their band fills the rest of her time.

Rob Hawkins

Business Development Consultant

Rob is another colleague with a strong St. James’s Place Wealth Management pedigree having enjoyed a successful 23-year career at the firm. His most recent role at St. James’s Place was as Head of Division Private Clients but prior to that he held a number of positions across the business including in training & development and communications. A Cotswold resident for more than a quarter of a century, Rob has brought his extensive client experience and local knowledge to help develop our Cheltenham office, which was opened in 2019. Joining Penney Financial Partners was not the only exciting recent appointment for Rob having also secured a volunteering role at the Cotswold Wildlife Park where he is learning a good deal about lemurs.

Linda Askey

Senior Paraplanner

Linda has worked with David for 15 years and is currently a Senior Paraplanner, primarily supporting the Consultants by writing reports for investments although her general experience is an invaluable asset for the smooth running of the practice. In a previous life Linda worked as a legal executive with experience across a range of specialisms including family, commercial law and will & trusts. Outside work you will find her with the grandchildren or playing golf although unfortunately not yet at the same time.

Jo Jackson

Paraplanner

Investment and tax research, viability analysis and compiling client strategy documents are all in a day’s work for Jo. Providing merchandising support for her sons and their band fills the rest of her time.

DAN SALT

Paraplanner

DAN SALT

Paraplanner

Dan has packed plenty into his 25 years. For the last four of them Dan, who graduated with a maths degree from Nottingham University, has worked as a paraplanner at the practice where he prepares documents for client meetings, completes applications, carries out research and processes investments. His true passion is tennis in which he represented for his university and he has been a qualified coach for a decade although he can also turn his hand to Olympic weightlifting, running and golf. One of his proudest achievements is being part of a team that trekked up the Salkantay Pass and Machu Picchu and helped raise more the £1.7m for Breast Cancer Now.

MEGAN WARD

Paraplanner

MEGAN WARD

Paraplanner

Megan was potentially destined to one day join the practice having enjoyed a number of work experience spells during her school and college days. Although passionate about art and a keen artist, Megan decided a career in financial services was for her and for the past year she has been working towards her paraplanning qualifications, the first step she hopes towards one day joining the Consultant team. However, she can still be found with a paintbrush and easel when winding down, or possibly even playing the electric guitar she is learning.

Lauren Chapman

Paraplanner

Lauren Chapman

Paraplanner

Lauren provides technical support for our Consultant team, conducting investment research and formalising recommendations while also keeping in regular contact with our clients to ensure they receive the personalised and friendly service they have come to expect. She is an expert multi-tasker, a superpower she has been able to hone after recently becoming a mum for the first time and when she’s not out making memories with her young family, she loves to cook and makes a mean roast duck with plum sauce and dauphinoise potatoes - although she does prefer it when it hasn’t been mashed up.

DAN SALT

Paraplanner

Dan has packed plenty into his 25 years. For the last four of them Dan, who graduated with a maths degree from Nottingham University, has worked as a paraplanner at the practice where he prepares documents for client meetings, completes applications, carries out research and processes investments. His true passion is tennis in which he represented for his university and he has been a qualified coach for a decade although he can also turn his hand to Olympic weightlifting, running and golf. One of his proudest achievements is being part of a team that trekked up the Salkantay Pass and Machu Picchu and helped raise more the £1.7m for Breast Cancer Now.

MEGAN WARD

Paraplanner

Megan was potentially destined to one day join the practice having enjoyed a number of work experience spells during her school and college days. Although passionate about art and a keen artist, Megan decided a career in financial services was for her and for the past year she has been working towards her paraplanning qualifications, the first step she hopes towards one day joining the Consultant team. However, she can still be found with a paintbrush and easel when winding down, or possibly even playing the electric guitar she is learning.

Lauren Chapman

Paraplanner

Lauren provides technical support for our Consultant team, conducting investment research and formalising recommendations while also keeping in regular contact with our clients to ensure they receive the personalised and friendly service they have come to expect. She is an expert multi-tasker, a superpower she has been able to hone after recently becoming a mum for the first time and when she’s not out making memories with her young family, she loves to cook and makes a mean roast duck with plum sauce and dauphinoise potatoes - although she does prefer it when it hasn’t been mashed up.

SAMANTHA CAPENER

Client Services

SAMANTHA CAPENER

Client Services

Sam was a legal secretary before joining the Penney team and co-ordinating client meetings, managing busy consultant schedules, helping with research and running client events are all in a day’s work. To unwind she can often be found striding out across the mountains of Snowdonia or slightly less energetically, pottering in the garden. If the day is concluded with something French and a good bottle of Châteauneuf du Pape then you will hear no complaints from Sam.

Di Harrison

Client Services

Di Harrison

Client Services

Di’s first career was as a marketeer in the financial and healthcare sectors, latterly as Marketing Manager at Allied Healthcare. Her second career has been to raise her two young children while also providing administrative support for the senior Consultant team at the practice. Her greatest desire is to develop the magic powers of her children’s favourite TV character Nanny Plum so she could swish her wand to tidy up, cook and clean. Until then however, the Consultants will have to continue to do it themselves.

VIVIENNE MASON

Client Services

VIVIENNE MASON

Client Services

For Viv, the client is everything – an attitude reinforced at Penney but developed during a career in retail and private banking with NatWest, Coutts, Barclays, EFG Harris Allday and Brewin Dolphin. Her mantra is a simple one – the client’s needs come before everything else and she’ll happily eat anywhere as long as ice-cream is the pudding. When she’s not working as an integral part of the Client Services team, she enjoys nothing more than being taken for a walk along Barmouth beach by her two dogs.

SAMANTHA CAPENER

Client Services

Sam was a legal secretary before joining the Penney team and co-ordinating client meetings, managing busy consultant schedules, helping with research and running client events are all in a day’s work. To unwind she can often be found striding out across the mountains of Snowdonia or slightly less energetically, pottering in the garden. If the day is concluded with something French and a good bottle of Châteauneuf du Pape then you will hear no complaints from Sam.

Di Harrison

Client Services

Di’s first career was as a marketeer in the financial and healthcare sectors, latterly as Marketing Manager at Allied Healthcare. Her second career has been to raise her two young children while also providing administrative support for the senior Consultant team at the practice. Her greatest desire is to develop the magic powers of her children’s favourite TV character Nanny Plum so she could swish her wand to tidy up, cook and clean. Until then however, the Consultants will have to continue to do it themselves.

VIVIENNE MASON

Client Services

For Viv, the client is everything – an attitude reinforced at Penney but developed during a career in retail and private banking with NatWest, Coutts, Barclays, EFG Harris Allday and Brewin Dolphin. Her mantra is a simple one – the client’s needs come before everything else and she’ll happily eat anywhere as long as ice-cream is the pudding. When she’s not working as an integral part of the Client Services team, she enjoys nothing more than being taken for a walk along Barmouth beach by her two dogs.

BEV PENNEY

Client Services

BEV PENNEY

Client Services

If you have an emergency, then look no further than Bev – as a former 999 operator she is well versed in getting to the nub of the problem and putting the wheels of a solution in motion. Thankfully emergencies are few and far between at Penney Financial Partners so she is able to concentrate her efforts elsewhere, such as assisting with events, seminars and financial education initiatives as well as supporting the development of the practice’s social media output. Outside work she is passionate about animals and is currently embarked on a lifelong mission to get the family dogs to do as they are asked.

JUDY DAVIES

Client Services/Front of House

JUDY DAVIES

Client Services/Front of House

In many ways, Judy is the face and voice of Penney Financial Partners as it’s often her beaming smile and dulcet Californian tones that will be the first thing visitors see and hear when they visit our Shrewsbury office. Having spent almost 30 years working for the Motion Picture Group at Universal Studios in the Golden State, Judy knows a thing or two about customer service and if her infectious warmth and good humour could be bottled then it would be a best seller. When she’s not facilitating a smoothly run practice, Judy is busy exploring the country she now calls home.

ALUN THORNE

Communications Consultant

ALUN THORNE

Communications Consultant

Alun is an aging raver and former journalist who in a previous life edited some of the UK’s leading regional newspapers before embarking on a career in communications. After five years as global head of public relations for a major international architect’s practice, Alun established his own consultancy and now helps clients from across the public and private sector get their messages across. In his diminishing spare time, he is passionate about grassroots football, managing both a boys and girls team as well as being club secretary for Shrewsbury’s largest youth football club.

BEV PENNEY

Client Services

If you have an emergency, then look no further than Bev – as a former 999 operator she is well versed in getting to the nub of the problem and putting the wheels of a solution in motion. Thankfully emergencies are few and far between at Penney Financial Partners so she is able to concentrate her efforts elsewhere, such as assisting with events, seminars and financial education initiatives as well as supporting the development of the practice’s social media output. Outside work she is passionate about animals and is currently embarked on a lifelong mission to get the family dogs to do as they are asked.

JUDY DAVIES

Client Services/Front of House

In many ways, Judy is the face and voice of Penney Financial Partners as it’s often her beaming smile and dulcet Californian tones that will be the first thing visitors see and hear when they visit our Shrewsbury office. Having spent almost 30 years working for the Motion Picture Group at Universal Studios in the Golden State, Judy knows a thing or two about customer service and if her infectious warmth and good humour could be bottled then it would be a best seller. When she’s not facilitating a smoothly run practice, Judy is busy exploring the country she now calls home.

ALUN THORNE

Communications Consultant

Alun is an aging raver and former journalist who in a previous life edited some of the UK’s leading regional newspapers before embarking on a career in communications. After five years as global head of public relations for a major international architect’s practice, Alun established his own consultancy and now helps clients from across the public and private sector get their messages across. In his diminishing spare time, he is passionate about grassroots football, managing both a boys and girls team as well as being club secretary for Shrewsbury’s largest youth football club.

CREATING A BETTER FUTURE IN A WORLD WORTH LIVING IN

Join the Team

We want Penney Financial Partners to be a vibrant, inclusive community where difference is recognised as a strength. As part of this focus, we seek to foster an inclusive culture where everyone has clarity of purpose and feels valued as we all strive towards a common goal.

We strongly believe in investing in our people and nurturing talent and our training and mentorship is focused not just on driving your professional growth but also helping you explore the barriers to diversity in the workplace and how you can support us build an inclusive culture for everyone.

Experienced Financial Consultants

Candidates should be qualified to at least Diploma-level, possess a strong technical knowledge and have excellent client-facing skills. There is significant potential on offer for the right candidates with a competitive base salary plus performance related pay.

Contact us
Paraplanners / Trainee Consultants

Previous financial experience is required for potential candidates and you will be Diploma qualified or working towards. Key attributes include attention to detail, an aptitude for technical matters and a willingness to learn. Salary is negotiable depending on experience.

Contact us
Client Services / Administration

Ideal candidates will have strong people, computer and organisational skills. Experience in a professional office environment is essential and knowledge of the financial services sector preferable but training can be provided. Salary is negotiable depending on experience.

Contact us

PENNEYTALKS

When it comes to relationships, we believe communication is everything.

Connecting the Dots

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Connecting the Dots

Connecting the dots is a big deal for us at Penney Financial Partners. The dots are all the things that are important to you and only when we can draw lines between them are we able to reveal and then deliver the life that you want to live. As part of this philosophy, we are committed to providing you with regular, engaging, high quality and occasionally thought-provoking information that we hope will help you in your quest to connect the dots.

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward

So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever

This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life

Steve Jobs

Connecting the Dots videos
Our Connecting the Dots videos are designed to support you along your life journey, whether that is providing practical issues to consider from a financial perspective, important new initiatives from the practice or more philosophical themes that might make you contemplate your outlook on life a little differently.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH MORE >

Webinars

Join our regular webinars where we aim to inform and inspire in equal measure.

More

Webinars

Join our regular webinars where we aim to inform and inspire in equal measure.
SOCIAL MEDIA

Follow us today for all the latest news, views and insights from Penney Financial Partners.

More

Social Media

As part of our commitment to continually improving our communication with clients we expanded our social media channels - so make sure to follow us for all the latest news, views and insights from Penney Financial Partners.

Connecting the Dots

Connecting the dots is a big deal for us at Penney Financial Partners. The dots are all the things that are important to you and only when we can draw lines between them are we able to reveal and then deliver the life that you want to live. As part of this philosophy, we are committed to providing you with regular, engaging, high quality and occasionally thought-provoking information that we hope will help you in your quest to connect the dots.

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward

So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever

This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life

Steve Jobs

Connecting the Dots videos
Our Connecting the Dots videos are designed to support you along your life journey, whether that is providing practical issues to consider from a financial perspective, important new initiatives from the practice or more philosophical themes that might make you contemplate your outlook on life a little differently.
CLICK HERE TO WATCH MORE >

Webinars

Join our regular webinars where we aim to inform and inspire in equal measure.

Social Media

As part of our commitment to continually improving our communication with clients we expanded our social media channels - so make sure to follow us for all the latest news, views and insights from Penney Financial Partners.

The Dots

Some regular thoughts on things you might like to know.

The art of decision making

By David Penney

In life, as in business, there are apparently three kinds of decisions that we have to make. 

There are those operational decisions that are taken multiple times a day to ensure that things run as smoothly as possible.

Then there are those tactical decisions – the decisions whose impact will be felt more over the medium term, something that needs to be planned for and factored into the future. 

And finally, there are those strategic decisions. These are decisions which will shape the long term, the ones that plot not just a direction of travel but also the desired destination.

The best way to come to those decisions has been a subject of conjecture and debate ever since we have been making decisions.

Clearly many of those decisions that we take every minute of every, from the words we say to what we have for breakfast, are so instinctive as to barely register on the decision-making scale, or certainly so we would imagine.

For those more tactical and strategic decisions that we make in our lives – those ones that we believe will have the greatest impact - one would assume that these are decisions that will be best made after a much more considered approach. 

It is an assumption that may not necessarily be correct. 

There are two points that should be considered here. Firstly around what part conscious decision making actually plays in determining the outcomes of our lives and secondly, does thinking differently about decision making depending on the situation actually make any difference to the overall outcome. 

A key point to recognise when considering our decision-making processes and capability is that our lives are actually dominated by decisions we take in almost complete ignorance.

Take having children for instance. We were of course all children once and most of us had the opportunity to study our parents growing up but we ultimately all become parents with no real knowledge of what it truly is to be a parent.

It is also a truism that many of those big decisions we make in our lives, those decisions that will have a profound impact on its direction and quality, are much easier to make than the smaller ones because very often they are not decisions in the most obvious sense at all. 

Many will have watched the film Sliding Doors where the life of the character played by Gwyneth Paltrow takes two fundamentally different courses dependent on whether she rushes to make it through the closing doors of a tube train.

The message of this film and ultimately the reality of life – and this is as true for business as it is for individuals - is that the decisions we make that have the potential to have the greatest impact are those multiple decisions we make every day without hesitation.

They are the decisions we take with little or no thought or consequence beyond the immediate even though every single one could have multiple unintended consequences that will shape the future direction of your life or your business.   

It is a liberating thought although it is not many of us who are prepared or mentally equipped to consciously leave our futures down to chance and so there remains value in having a better understanding of how and why we make the decisions we do. 

Whether it is a conscious process or not, what is clear is that we all have our own way of making decisions. 

Whatever the decision that needs to be made, some people like to react from the hip – it feels right, decision made. Others like to take a much more methodical and analytical approach. 

The second approach to decision making certainly seems like the most rational but does this necessarily lead to the best outcomes? The reality is that people often make decisions that are neither necessarily rational or even predictable and yet it doesn’t mean that those decisions they make are wrong.

If you dig a little deeper into the psychology of decision making, humans have a tendency to create mental shortcuts to simplify decision making using something called heuristics.

This can mean that decisions are influenced by a wide range of factors including how a question is framed, our tendency to ignore statistics and focus on stereotypes, our most recent experiences and our own prejudices, regardless or whether they are material to the matter at hand. 

So, when it comes to making the best decisions, which way is best?

Well the reality is that it actually both or neither – depending of how you frame the question!

What is clear is that if you understand heuristics and deliberately sidestep those mental shortcuts that simplify decision making, there stands a more than reasonable chance that the decision you make will be a better one.

However, there is also plenty of evidence that the brain is sufficiently evolved to process all the available information almost instantaneously to allow you to make a snap decision that will often lead to the most favourable outcome.

So, whether you are somebody who makes decision on the fly or likes to approach decision making in a much more methodical way, the most important thing ultimately is to make that decision.

If the decision turns out to be a poor one, that’s ok. It will immediately become part of your lived experience and will enter the psychology of your decision-making process in the future.

Procrastinating (as opposed to being deliberately thorough) undoubtedly has some advantages – it provides more time to gather evidence and it is said to potentially enhance creativity – but it can also become something of a habit.

In this one precious life of ours, taking action and living out the consequences would always seem a much more fulfilling existence than a lifetime of wondering. 

Positivity is nothing without optimism

By David Penney

By this Friday the sun will begin to rise before 8am – and by the following Friday the sunset will be closer to 5pm than 4pm.

Within a month we will begin to see the green shoots of spring flowers and the first bumblebees will emerge on sunny days, looking for untidy corners to start building their summer nests. 

These seasonal realities may seem relatively inconsequential against the seemingly perpetual stream of challenges many of us are facing at the moment, but how we view the former tells us a lot about how prepared we are to face the latter.

One of the most common refrains to be heard around the recent lockdown is about how much harder it will be to manage in the cold and dank winter months compared to the beautiful late spring and early summer weather of the first lockdown last March.

It is a completely understandable expression of pessimism in light of all our experiences over the past 10 months but also reflects a mindset that focuses on the challenges of today rather than the opportunities of tomorrow.

As the great Winston Churchill said: “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

To be an optimist is to look at the world differently. To be optimistic allows you to react to problems with a sense of confidence and often with an ability to overcome them.

Optimists have a strong belief and understanding that negative events are temporary, have limited scope to impact the long-term direction of their lives and that all issues that befall them can be managed. 

Of course, optimism can be repeatedly challenged – we are in a period that seems to be doing that on an almost daily basis – but by remaining optimistic is to look beyond events and focus on your assumptions that everything will work out in the end.

To be optimistic is linked to thinking positively but it is not the same. Thinking positively is undoubtedly the best way to live your life but there is a downside to always taking the positive view to the point of it being potentially destructive.

Being positive does not automatically make things ok – it can be a screen for challenges that are not being faced and can be a slippery slope to accepting mediocrity, both in our personal and business lives.

Indeed, being exceptionally positive is in many ways no better than being overly negative – we need to balance both extremes to live a life that has equilibrium and authenticity. 

When we always think that everything is going just great, we lose that all important motivation to improve. 

It is positivity that motivates us to respond to the moment, but it is optimism that provides us with the comfort and hope that there are better times ahead.

Positive thinking is about telling ourselves that everything is good even when it may not be whereas optimism accepts the truth of reality and looks forward to a brighter future.

The Four Pillars of Financial Freedom

It is this optimistic mindset that provides the fundamental underpinning of our four pillars of financial freedom – growing wealth, family, wellbeing and community.

Within each of these four pillars you can find a lessons that provide the support and reassurance that allow us look to the future with an optimism that invigorates our lives rather than leading to stagnation and paralysis.

Growing wealth

When investing to grow wealth, the prevailing view will always be to take a long-term view and look beyond short-term fluctuations as has been reflected in the bounce back in the markets over the past 10 months. 

By embracing a long-term orientation, we are reflecting an optimistic view of the financial markets, reinforced by experience and cold hard facts.

Wellbeing

When it comes to wellbeing, optimism is the very essence of personal well-being. Our own physical health and those around us is more important than anything else in our lives and having an optimistic mindset can have a hugely positive influence on this. 

Not surprisingly it is considered an important factor in the fight against depression and anxiety but there is also strong and credible evidence that it improves the immune system and can make you less likely to suffer from chronic disease. 

Family

Not everybody is naturally optimistic, but it is a state of mind that can be learned through a range of processes, not least by focusing on those important virtues of selflessness and a gratitude, virtues that are intrinsically linked to those other key pillars, family and community.

The dictionary definition states that to be to be selfless is to be more concerned about the wishes of others than one’s own, something we all do as parents or indeed as children, particularly as more of us join the so-called ‘sandwich’ generation.

While our feelings and actions towards our own families are often instinctive, we should also recognise in ourselves the effort and sacrifice we make to make their lives better. Serving other people, whoever they are, is inspiring, fulfilling and full of reward.

Community

Gratitude is something that we have all probably had much more of in recent times as we have focused on the importance of community and those who have been such a support throughout the pandemic.

Gratitude is such a fantastic initiator of optimism and when you look at all the things that you are grateful for in your life, it is difficult not to be optimistic. 

Ultimately, there is no right or wrong way to deal with the challenges in our lives but the benefits of approaching life with an optimistic mindset undoubtedly allow us to solve the problems before us in a more calm and courageous way.

So whatever challenges you are facing today, remember that we are another day closer to the bluebells and daffodils emerging to remind us that a new and wonderful year of opportunity is upon us. 

Neutral by name but not by nature

By David Penney

You will often read that a company stands for something – indeed you will find it written on our own website.

But what does it actually mean?

The expression “what a company stands for” often relates to its core values and brand – for Penney Financial Partners these include trust, integrity, passion and innovation, ideals that underpin how we do business and all essential in delivering the service that our clients expect.

However, I am not sure that is what we actually stand for. For me, standing for something is more fundamental than what we do or how we treat our customers. 

Standing for something is about aspiring to make a positive impact that reaches beyond the expected, that transcends a business’s natural sphere of influence.  

In our mission statement we state our commitment to helping families achieve more with their resources, creating a better future in a world worth living in.

This is a mission that that has successfully guided us over the past 20 years although it is the final part of that statement that is the most important and the part that truly expresses what we really stand for – and what has driven us to make a key decision about our business for 2021.

The recent pandemic has been hugely disruptive to all of our lives, but it is climate change that is the great crisis of our age and will eventually have the greatest impact on all of our lives.

It is an issue that has to be everybody’s responsibility, particularly businesses that currently account for half of all carbon emissions in the UK. It is for this reason that we have committed in 2021 to become a carbon neutral business. 

In simple terms this means that as a business we will take responsibility for absorbing as much carbon as we emit.

Ultimately this will mean investing in technologies and mechanisms that offset the amount of carbon that we produce at Penney Financial Partners, but our commitment has to be greater if we are truly committed to creating a better future in a world worth living in. 

Becoming a carbon neutral business is not just about offsetting but about behaviour. Our goal is not to emit the same amount of carbon and then use the profits we generate to offset that carbon but ultimately to reduce our carbon footprint itself.

This means reviewing our energy use in our offices and switching to sustainable sources, reducing commuting by supporting a more flexible approach to office working and developing a best practice culture where colleagues are encouraged to question and challenge the sustainability of all our business activity. 

There is no doubt that it is an approach that is good for business as fewer costs means better efficiency and what business doesn’t want that - but it is about so much more. 

At the heart of the service we provide for our clients is to help them manage their wealth for today, for their future but also for future generations – if we don’t stand for taking clear action to provide a better future for all of us then supporting our clients pass on their wealth to the next generation becomes somewhat moot. 

Of course, we understand that our contribution to reducing overall emissions will be small but this is also about creating a platform to meet the information demands of our clients.

After all, it is our clients who are our partners in delivering our mission and if we can support them in considering a more sustainable future, then we will know that this was something that was really worth standing for. 

The sense in being a good business

By David Penney

When the history books are written about those individuals who helped shape the 20th century, very near to the top will be Steve Jobs.

As a founder of Apple, he can rightly be considered one of the pioneers of the technological age with a visionary approach that literally changed the world.

But of course, his successes were not down to him alone – something he readily admitted in one of his best-known quotes:

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They are done by a team of people.”

Indeed, no matter what the business, building the right team and creating the environment for them to thrive both collectively and individually is the fundamental base on which success is built. 

Of course, we are very much at the other end of the scale compared to a global giant such as Apple, but the principles remain the same whether you are a team of 20 or a team of 20,000.

And building a team who are engaged, committed and happy in what they do is not just good for business but it often has a wider positive impact beyond the office – I think most people’s experience is that if you are happy at work then you tend to be happier in other areas of life.

So, for all these reasons and more it was an incredibly proud moment earlier this month when Penney Financial Partners was accredited by the Good Business Charter in recognition of our commitment to good employment practice as well as our attitude towards tax, the environment, customers and suppliers.

The Good Business Charter, which has the support of both the CBI and the TUC, was established by the Good Business Foundation.

The charter consists of 10 components, more details of the which can be found at www.goodbusinesscharter.co.uk, but at the heart of the charter is a commitment to maintaining a fair and ethical approach in all aspects of our business.

This means ensuring equitable pay and conditions for all, providing clear and transparent policies that support wellbeing and committing to investing time and money in creating an inclusive workforce that recognises the importance and opportunities presented by diversity.

Our accreditation also recognises our work towards minimising our own impact on the environment, the fact that we are signatories to the government’s Prompt Payment Code and our commitment to upholding the standards in the Ethical Trading Initiative Base Code. 

In short, it is an accreditation that recognises the responsibility we feel as a business both to our employees and also to the wider community, a responsibility we have felt particularly acutely during this recent period of uncertainty but for which we have also been richly rewarded. 

For while this accreditation is technically about how the business behaves towards its employees and other stakeholders, it is actually recognition for the team themselves.

They are the ones who are carrying our vision forward and creating the kind of business that is important to them and this very accreditation is the result of a huge amount of work led by our Head of Client Services Nina Sahota, a colleague for almost 20 years, which I hope tells a story in itself. 

To coin another phrase by Mr Jobs, “the only way to do great work is to do what you love.” I would not be so bold to suggest that every colleague does what they love but I can say with absolute certainty that they do great work.   

Pivoting to success in a crisis

The impacts of the ongoing Covid crisis have been many and varied.

One of the more frivolous has been how it has introduced a range of new words and phrases into the everyday lexicon.

For the generation that has lived through this moment in history, words like lockdown, quarantine, furlough and even pandemic itself will carry so much more meaning than they did before we have ever heard of Covid-19.

In a business environment, one of the words we are hearing a lot at the moment is pivot.

It is far from being a new word and has long described that process when a business changes its direction or approach to respond to unfavourable economic conditions, a surge in competition or responding to a previously hidden opportunity. 

In a world where nothing is very certain and people are behaving and thinking differently to how they have ever behaved or thought before, it is no surprise that there is an awful lot of pivoting going on.

History is filled with companies and organisations that have successfully pivoted but it is also a process that is fraught with potential pitfalls, from undermining your hard-earned brand to alienating the customers who have been key to your success up to that point.

However, in times of adversity, being able to adapt and evolve may not just be the difference between survival and demise but in many instances, the outcome can be a business or organisation that is better than before.

As the saying goes, businesses are very much like relationships – bad ones fall apart in a crisis, good ones get by and great ones are better because of it. 

This is certainly the case for the Cheltenham Literature Festival, an internationally important annual event that celebrates the very best in global literature every October and one that we were privileged to be involved in this year.

The event is part of Cheltenham Festivals, which also includes the excellent jazz, science and music festivals and like for so many people and organisations, 2020 has not been a kind year.

However, having had to cancel the three previous events, the organisers developed a new hybrid approach so that while some of their 160 events would continue to be live to a socially distanced audience, all would be livestreamed for free to a new global audience or viewers could pay £20 and watch the events at their leisure over the next three months.

The response to this innovation, both from the literary world and its audience, was nothing short of outstanding. 

The packed festival programme included 290 authors and speakers and was full of great names from Malcolm Gladwell to Mary Beard, the venues were as full as guidelines permitted and the streaming figures beat even the most optimistic of expectations with more than 200,000 viewers. 

The organisation and commitment to changing the direction of the festival was a huge undertaking and relied not just on an incredible amount of hard work but also the belief of all involved that the event could not just be delivered but that it would actually create something that was better than before.

Through establishing a clear vision, supporting it with strong messaging that took their customers on their journey with them and then delivering an exemplary product that exceeded expectations, the festival managed to turn adversity completely on its head.

The approach was as brave as it was creative and the result is a template for a future that will enable the festival to reach into places that it was never possible before, opening an exciting new chapter where the sky’s the limit.

The impacts of the Covid crisis may be many and varied but there is no doubt that the experience of Cheltenham Literature Festival offers a fantastic lesson that we can all learn from as we pivot in our own ways to respond and overcome the challenges of today. 

Why Cheltenham?

By David Penney

There are many attributes that combine to give a town its identity.

For some it could be a rich history for which it has become synonymous, for others it might be its distinctive architecture or perhaps an industry in which it excels. 

When it comes to Cheltenham, it is a little bit of all of the above – and a good deal more.

When I established my own practice in Shrewsbury more than 20 years ago it was always with the aspirations to one day expand beyond our Shropshire heartland. Cheltenham was on the radar for a number of years and when the time was right to open our second office in 2019, it just felt like the natural choice.

First and foremost, there are some clear synergies between Shrewsbury and Cheltenham that make it such an attractive proposition for a business like ours that aspires to work with successful individuals and families.

Agriculture and farming have long been an important staple of the local economy for both towns but they have both evolved to become increasingly dynamic hotbeds for a wide range of exciting businesses, from tech and e-commerce to the full plethora of creative industries – with plenty in between. 

Both towns are well connected into larger cities but are thriving hubs of activity in their own right, with Cheltenham acting as a natural gateway into all that is wonderful about the beautiful Cotswolds.

Both Shrewsbury and Cheltenham are also blessed with a host of excellent state and independent schools, indeed some of the best performing in the country, providing a fantastic local education service but also a real lure for those looking to relocate.

From a business perspective, Cheltenham is also within striking distance of St. James’s Place’s HQ in Cirencester and home to many of its senior team. It’s hard to think of a town with a richer pool of talent and experience to interact with and support our delivery of an exceptional service to our clients.   

But for all these exciting characteristics, there is something more about Cheltenham that is slightly more difficult to define – an energy and a vibe that is infectious.

It is from this energy that has seen the Cheltenham Festivals emerge over recent years to establish the town as a town right at the heart of the UK’s arts scene with a jazz and science festival to partner the literature and music festivals that were first established after the Second World War.

Make no mistake, these are wonderful events that over the years have attracted some of the biggest names on the planet, from ex-Presidents to multi-million selling authors, and I was delighted this year to get behind the festivals by becoming a patron.

These festivals have always led the way in terms of content and innovation and with the recent Covid crisis, the organisers have had to pull out all the stops for the forthcoming Literature Festival in October but what a job they have done in creating a hybrid physical and virtual festival which again looks like it will be absolutely world-class.

This year for the first time Penney Financial Partners will be supporting the festival and we are delighted that we will be sponsoring an event at the wonderful Everyman Theatre where the bestselling author and explorer Ben Fogle will be discussing his new book Inspire: Life Lessons from the Wilderness.

There are a huge number of events at this year’s festival but we felt the subject matter of Ben’s new book really talked to a subject that means so much to us at Penney Financial Partners – the concept of inspiration and where we find it.

Amongst other things Ben has climbed Everest, rowed the Atlantic, re-enacted the race to the South Pole between Scott and Amundsen, swam from Alcatraz to San Francisco and completed the six-day Marathon des Sables. I’m sure you’ll agree that the opportunity to listen at first hand from someone who has achieved all that will be pretty inspiring in its own right!

If you’ve never visited one of the Cheltenham festivals, I would highly recommend it and this year’s Literature Festival looks like it could be one of the best. As well as offering a great insight into the world of literature, it will also help you understand why Cheltenham is such a great place to be. 

Appointment marks new phase for Cotswold office

Rob Hawkins has joined Penney Financial Partners to help the practice grow its office in Cheltenham.

Rob has extensive experience working in the financial services sector having most recently been Head of Division Private Clients at St. James’s Place Wealth Management, where he enjoyed a 23-year career.

Before embarking on a career in financial services, Rob worked for a number of years in the travel & tourism industry, an experience that had strong synergies with his future career. 

He said: “The stakes may be very different but whether it is the travel industry or financial services, fundamentally it’s about people – delivering a great service that makes people happy.

“This was very much at the heart of my most recent role at St. James’s Place working in the private client space where our approach was always that there was no problem that couldn’t be solved. 

“Indeed, the fact that I found these values so clearly embedded at Penney Financial Partners become one of the key drivers for me accepting the opportunity to join the team.”

Rob has joined the Penney team as business development consultant for the practice’s Cotswold operation, which was established in 2019 with the launch of its new office in St George’s Road in the heart of Cheltenham.

West Country born and bred and having lived in the Costwolds for the past 25 years, Rob will work with the Penney team to help build relationships and support the practice’s ambitious growth plans for the region.

He said: “The experience and expertise that Penney bring in understanding the needs of clients from all backgrounds and circumstances and delivering fantastic outcomes provides them with a really strong opportunity to build something exceptional in Cheltenham.

“By supporting them through making connections, relationship building and driving initiatives to build the Penney brand in the region, I am thoroughly looking forward to being part of that journey.”

Penney Financial Partners CEO David Penney believes Rob will have a crucial role to play in helping the practice achieve its aspirations in Cheltenham and the wider area.

He said: “Rob is someone who had been on my radar for a number of years through his work with St. James’s Place and when he had decided that he was looking for a new challenge, he was clearly somebody who we felt could play a big part in supporting our next phase of development in Cheltenham.

“He has huge experience in the sector and is completely aligned with the beliefs that underpin our practice, from our commitment to excellence in everything we do to a belief in the importance of doing business with a smile on your face.” 

Events Calendar

Make sure you sign up for our upcoming events

Inspire: Life Lessons from the Wilderness with Ben Fogle

The Cheltenham Literature Festival
Friday 9th October, 3-4pm
Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham

Ben discusses his latest book in an event supported by Penney Financial Partners.

Find out more
Succession Planning webinar with Farmer’s Weekly

Thursday 29th October, 5pm

Chief Executive David Penney joins a Farmer’s Weekly panel to discuss issues around intergenerational planning on the magazine’s popular webinar advice series.

Watch Now
The Secrets of Sleep

InspireMe webinar series
Wednesday 21st October

Penney Financial Partners CEO David Penney is joined by sleep consultant Dr Ari Manuel and life coach Laurence Udell for our latest Inspire Me webinar.

Watch Now
Planning for a successful 2021

Our Community series
Wednesday 27th January, 4pm

Join CEO David Penney and Will Harrison and Sam Johnston as they look at the lessons learned from an unprecedented year and what that could mean for the year ahead.

Watch Now
Take a step in the right direction – Part 1

Wednesday 10th February, 4-5pm

Penney Financial Partners' Director Will Harrison is joined by St. James’s Place’s Claire Trott to look at what action to take before the Budget and the Tax Year End.

Register now
Take a step in the right direction – Part 2

Wednesday 24th February, 3-4pm

CEO David Penney is joined by Tony Wickenden and Claire Trott to discuss the optimal use of tax allowances with a focus on planning for the next generation.

Register now
Budget review 2021

Friday 5th March, 11am-12pm

Penney Financial Partners' Director Will Harrison will be joined by Obi Nnochiri from St. James’s Place where they will discuss the contents of the Chancellor’s latest Budget.

Register Now
The Power of the Personal

Our Community webinar series
Coming later in 2021

David Penney will be joined by SJP Director of Marketing Claire Blackwell, to discuss the importance of a personal approach to building connections in business.

Registration Coming Soon

GALLERY

Look back at our previous events.

The Partner Practice is an Appointed Representative of and represents only St. James's Place Wealth Management plc (which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority) for the purpose of advising solely on the group's wealth management products and services, more details of which are set out on the group's website www.sjp.co.uk/products The 'St. James's Place Partnership' and the title 'Partner' are marketing terms used to describe St. James's Place representatives.

Penney Financial Partners is a trading name of Penney Financial Partners Ltd. Penney Financial Partners Limited is registered in England and Wales, Number 09964340. Registered Office: Kensington House, Knights Way, Battlefield, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, SY1 3AB, UK