Family's trust has been well rewarded; YOUR MONEY Personal finance planning should be exactly that - personal. Alastair Gilmour reports on three generations of trust.
A glance behind the sensational headlines reveals that ethics and principles haven't been completely abandoned, they remain firmly gripped in those steady hands. That is why the likes of the Bainbridge family from Gosforth in Newcastle has invested three generations-worth of trust in Newcastle company Dhanda Financial.
Dorothy Bainbridge first invited its principal Alok Dhanda to advise on her affairs in 1985, since when her daughter Barbara, grandson Paul and granddaughter Alison have all benefited from his independent guidance on pensions, mortgages, life assurance, critical illness cover, tax mitigating schemes, investment planning and management. It represents 24 years of the sound judgment that never seems to hit the headlines - and to put the time-scale in context, 1985 was the year European Footballer of the Year Cristiano Ronaldo first kicked in his mother's arms and when Mohammed Al Fayed bought Harrods.
Newly-retired Barbara Bainbridge would still be a primary school teacher had she not acted on Alok's advice. She is now at 53 carving out a new career as a driving instructor.
"My mother is coming up 89 and she first did some investments with Alok in 1985," says Barbara. "They've seen her through her retirement and my brother's education. I came on board when I needed mortgage advice after my marriage broke up. He kept it all on the straight and narrow and manages to cover everything.
"My son Paul and daughter Alison both had policies from my mother which matured and made a good return. He bought a house and made some investments but both of them didn't need the money straight away and have kept it for a rainy day."
Alok was working for insurance company Albany Life when Dorothy Bainbridge sought the firm's services through a newspaper advert. For the family it turned out one of the best phone calls she could have made.
"Her investments did very well," says Alok. "Then, when I first started dealing with Dorothy's daughter Barbara she said she wished we had met years before and that she'd missed out on seven or eight years of financial advice.
"Paul is getting married in April so he'll need a financial review and who knows, there could be a fourth generation to plan for soon. This is what it's all about, looking after people from day one. You hear so many stories these days about financial advisers who don't do the full job, but I liken it to building a house - you're not finished until you reach roof level.
"You must have a regular financial MOT. You go to the dentist every six months, your health needs a regular service, your car needs a regular service and it's the same with your finances.
There are simple things we can do; people want the basic easy-to-understand solutions that the Bainbridge family took up.
The big problems in the UK at the moment are caused by people who don't start understanding their finances from an early enough age - it should start from school."
Alok should know, born in India and part-raised in Kenya, he specialised in accountancy for his business degree at Northumbria University. He now advises more than 200 clients "from millionaires to ordinary people in the street".
He says: "There are three certainties in financial planning - we die too soon, we are unprepared for being sick or disabled, or we live too long. It's like a tripod or a three-legged stool; if one of those breaks it becomes unstable and we need to get back on track and fix it so we can sit on it again.
"You keep working things out, refining clients' investments, their life assurance, income protection, tax savings and retirement savings protection."
Dorothy Bainbridge is now heavily dependent on Barbara's help, so early retirement and a business start-up that has flexibility at its core is an ideal arrangement.
"I'm looking after my mother now," says Barbara. "She lives with me and needs a lot of care - so I can do my own hours. It's still teaching and I'm still using my people skills - and I'm a swimming coach as well.
"Alok is very proactive and he'll always come to you and say, 'Barbara we need to change this or we need a new mortgage, let's move it now'. He works so hard, you can catch him any time day or night when you need him. I've recommended him to a few friends; in fact, I can't recommend him highly enough.
"My daughter is at Northumbria University doing English and creative writing.
She's going to Georgia State University in Atlanta to do a second year as part of an exchange programme, so she'll be using some of her invested money for that. It's the kind of thing you should do when you're young.
"My son works in a plastics factory making parts for the car industry. His job's OK at the moment but it's a difficult time.
"Alok has definitely made my money work for me - I felt really safe about taking early retirement with his advice.
He brings everything to the house for my mother to see, he's very patient and explains everything; he sets it all out for you. But at the end of the day you can say, 'no, I'll just wait' - he respects our opinions as well.
"If I hadn't had someone like Alok to advise I'd still be stuck in the classroom and not teaching driving. I would have had something in a savings account but not really as much as I have."
THREE GENERATIONS From left, Alison Means, Dorothy Bainbridge and Barbara Bainbridge have all had financial advice from Alok Dhanda. Picture: Emily Barber www.journallive.co.uk/buyaphoto ref: 01225076