What a year it has been, with many lows, but also highs. Yet, against all odds, somehow so much has been achieved. Whilst this doesn’t take away the pain and difficulties of this year, within society, people have shown greater empathy and kindness than we’ve ever seen before. And at Balance, we’ve managed to grow as a company and support each other through the storm.
There’s no denying this year has been trying. However, we want to focus on the positives from a challenging, but equally pivotal year.
At the beginning of the year, we celebrated Balance going into its fifth year of Business, and we had a look back at our journey so far.
We also shared two of our goals for the year. The first being to run an educational workshop per month, and the second being to complete five fundraising activities for our chosen charity, Cancer Research UK.
Here’s how we got on.
In total, we ran thirteen workshops throughout the year. For the first couple of months, we hosted these as seminars in our West Bridgford office. Then, from March we transitioned to webinars due to the pandemic.
The topics we covered included financial planning, redundancy, retirement, business planning, divorce and ethical investing. And we had some brilliant guest speakers contribute to our webinars too.
As part of our mission, we want to educate and positively impact as many people as possible through our work. Influencing the perception of financial planning as a profession, as well as help people understand the true meaning and value of money.
A big thank you to everyone that got involved and helped us create these resources. You can look back at any of our previous webinars here.
At the start of 2020, to celebrate being five years old, we committed to five fundraising events throughout the year. Unfortunately, lockdown derailed some of our plans, but read on to see how we got on.
- Rebecca named a top-rated adviser
Our Managing Director, Rebecca Aldridge, was recognised for the second year running in the VouchedFor 2020 Guide to the UK’s Top-Rated Financial Advisers, as published in The Times.
- Bake sale
To coincide with World Cancer Day on 4th February, we organised an office bake sale and got the whole team to show off their hidden baking skills. In total, we raised around £70.
This seems like a distant memory, with the team being in the office, and other workers from around the building coming to purchase goodies. But we hope to be able to do this again soon!
- Balance shortlisted for ‘Small advice firm of the year’
Balance: Wealth Planning was shortlisted for ‘Small Advice Firm of the Year’ in the Money Marketing Awards 2020. Read on below to see us all dressed up with nowhere to go watching the virtual award ceremony at home.
- A message from Rebecca
March was a pivotal month, and the shape of 2020 changed. We’re not sure if anyone could have predicted what was to come, but Rebecca shared a message to address concerns, the financial implications and answer any questions at this troubling time.
- Working remotely
We transitioned to working remotely and quickly adapted to this new way of working. Business continued as usual, with meetings offered via telephone or videoconferencing.
We were very fortunate that our work remained relatively unaffected by the pandemic, and our thoughts go out to those less fortunate. We hope that the industries that were crippled by the events of 2020 can rebuild and have a prosperous future in 2021.
- Team boosts
To keep team morale up, we hosted a weekly team boost and Friday fun meetings, which helped lift everyone’s spirits. We rotated the quiz-making responsibilities and saw new, fun ideas each week. Here are just a few snapshots of our fun.
- Big Quiz for Cancer Research UK
Since we couldn’t host a quiz of our own, we took part in Cancer Research UK’s very own Big Quiz for Cancer Research UK on Sunday evenings.
- Rebecca shortlisted for ‘Financial Adviser of the Year – Midlands & East Anglia’
Our Managing Director, Rebecca Aldridge, was shortlisted for ‘Financial Adviser of the Year – Midlands & East Anglia‘ in the Professional Adviser Women in Financial Advice Awards 2020. Although we may be biased, we think Rebecca is incredible, but it’s lovely to receive industry recognition. Unfortunately, Rebecca didn’t win but was honoured to be shortlisted.
- Dani gained the Certificate in Advanced Financial Planning
Our Paraplanning Manager, Dani Nicholls, passed her exam and gained the CISI Level 6 Certificate in Advanced Financial Planning. She now moves on to the gruelling task of completing a case study to achieve Certified Financial Planner status. Good Luck to Dani!
- Free Covid sessions launched
We launched free COVID-19 crisis coaching sessions, all done via a video call with one of our professional financial advisers.
The pandemic this year turned many lives upside down, and we wanted to help in the small way that we could; providing a reassuring ear in a time of crisis.
- Race for Life at Home
Our team had planned to take part in the Cancer Research UK Race for Life on Sunday 7th June. And sadly, due to the pandemic, the race got cancelled. However, we didn’t want that to stop us. Instead, we decided to complete a 10k team relay for the Race for Life at Home (adhering to the social distancing rules of course!).
- Started a YouTube Channel
As everyone turned to online communication and keeping up to date remotely, we created a new YouTube channel to host all of our webinar recordings and important video updates. Again, as part of our drive to educate, we hope this channel provides a useful resource to people far and wide.
- Virtual Money Marketing Awards
On 8th July, we had a great time getting dressed up for the Money Marketing Awards 2020 virtual ceremony. Although we didn’t win the award for ‘Small Advice Firm of the Year’, we did receive a couple of bottles of fizz for the best team photo in their Twitter competition.
- Joined the Initiative for Financial Wellbeing
Our financial planners, Rebecca Aldridge and Tina Winter, both joined the Initiative for Financial Wellbeing (IFW). The IFW is an exciting venture bringing together members of the financial planning community and creating a space where professionals can collaborate and share research. The aim is to improve the advice industry and help us help you to be happier and more fulfilled.
- A message from Rebecca: Covid six months on
At the start of lockdown, I don’t think we all knew what was in store for us. But, six months on, Rebecca provided a Covid update, sharing her thoughts on where we were at, where we might be in six months and what this could mean for your investments.
- Financial Planning Week
At the beginning of October, we supported Financial Planning Week for another year. We offered free one-hour consultations with our professional financial advisers, and our Managing Director, Rebecca Aldridge, hosted a webinar introducing financial planning. You can watch the webinar recording here.
- Marathon Month
Dani, Laura, Lauryn and Joe all signed up to complete a month-long marathon for Cancer Research UK. The aim was to run 26.2 miles each over the month, and despite the drop in temperature, we’re pleased to say that they all rose to the challenge and raised £291.20 between them! Well done and bravo.
- Good Money Week
We also released a series of videos in support of Good Money Week. Our financial planner, Krupesh Kotecha, talked about what sustainable and ethical finance is, relevant news surrounding sustainability and what we can do to help build a better future.
- New Model Adviser Top 100
Balance: Wealth Planning was named one of the New Model Adviser® Top 100 Financial Planning firms in the UK for the third consecutive year. It was also great to get a special mention for our fixed-fee model, charitable donations and low-cost advice alternative with Neon Financial Planning Limited.
- Five Charitable events throughout 2020
To mark our 5th anniversary, we committed to organising five fundraising events or opportunities throughout 2020.
We are pleased to say, despite the pandemic throwing a rather large curve-ball at us, we did the following:
- Client referral donations – for every referral we received we donated £10
- Bake sale – we raised just under £70 in February
- Team 10k relay – we did a race for life at home to raise a little extra
- October marathon month – raising just under £300
- Twelve days of Quizmas – some of our very generous entrants opted for a charity donation, even though a bottle of fizz or a luxury box of chocolates were on offer!
In total, throughout 2020, we are proud to say we raised just over £1,000 for Cancer Research UK. During a year where money may be tight for some, the generous donations will mean even more. Fundraising events have been on pause this year, so the little extra we can help is brilliant.
- Twelve Days of Quizmas
Even though we couldn’t invite you to a Christmas event to celebrate the festivities in person, we weren’t about to let that stop us from getting into the festive spirit with you all. Instead, we put together twelve challenges for our ‘Twelve Days of Quizmas’.
A final note…
Whilst the ‘Twelve Days of Quizmas’ provided a light-hearted and welcome distraction, it’s undeniable that Christmas will be different this year, and it will be unlike any other we’ve experienced before. However, we hope that this festive season you can find some joy and comfort in the smaller things.
Although for many reasons, this might not be the Christmas we had hoped or planned for, we must hold on to the two things that 2020 highlighted, the human spirit and the power of community. Be kind to yourself, and those around you.
Here’s a message from us to you this festive season.
We wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, from the team at Balance: Wealth Planning.