Welcome back to Galway Chamber’s Business of the Week series. This week, we spoke to Niall McBride of Harvest Financial Services.
My name is Niall McBride and I have worked with Harvest Financial Services providing financial and retirement planning advice to individuals and companies since 2007. I am a native of Galway and graduated with a Masters in Economics from NUIG. When the opportunity arose in 2013 to spearhead Harvest’s operations in the West of Ireland I jumped at the chance to move home having spent a number of years in our Dublin office.
Tell us about Harvest Financial Services.
Since its establishment 25 years ago this month (!), Harvest has grown to be one of Ireland’s leading financial advisory firms helping meet the needs and objectives of our clients through the provision of retirement planning, financial planning and investment advice. Our business model focuses completely on our client needs and much of our growth has been generated from referrals, from both existing clients and other professional firms. As primarily a fee-based advisory firm, cost transparency is at the core of everything we do. We oversee more than €1 billion assets on behalf of our clients who are pension funds, approved retirement funds, private individuals, corporations and charities.
Why did you choose to become a member of Galway Chamber?
Galway has a vibrant & varied business community which we very much wanted to be a part of and the one organisation that promotes that ethos of community is the Galway Chamber. Not only does the Chamber do exceedingly good work on the ground in the local area but it also influences national policy by bringing together the many qualities and disciplines of its members and everyone can add something different. I feel this is what Galway and the West are all about.
The Breakfast Seminars and Business After Hours are also a great way to promote your business and provide excellent networking opportunities to a diverse range of sectors in the business world.
What are the current challenges facing the pension industry?
The traditional pension model has changed in Ireland over the last 25 years. Many older employees will be or have been members of Defined Benefit pension schemes where their employer ensured that they were paid a percentage of their final salary for life after they retired. Most of these pensions are now closed to new members or have wound up completely. The responsibility to provide for an income in retirement has now been pushed back to the individual. The big issue facing people is accumulating an adequate fund to provide for the lifestyle they want to enjoy in retirement. It can seem daunting to begin the process as well as evaluate all the options out there; however pensions are still the most tax efficient way to provide this fund. Therefore it is essential that every person has access to specific financial advice that meets their own needs; Harvest Financial Services provides expert advice tailored to the individual client. We can also offer advice to companies on how to structure and implement employee benefit schemes to attract and retain staff. Pension funds used to finish at 60 or 65, now they are for life and the need for appropriate advice is greater than ever.
Tell us about a highlight for Harvest Financial in the last 25 years?
As a business we are continuously working to improve our service offering to our clients. We were delighted to be awarded Independent Financial Advisor/Pension Broker of the Year at the Irish Pension Awards 2017 for the third consecutive year. These awards honour excellence within the pension industry, and our continued success in this category is testament to our advice led approach to working with our clients to meet their retirement and investment planning needs. We have also recently added the Investment Broker of the Year 2018 at the recent LPI awards and having grown to a workforce of nearly 60 we will endeavour to maintain the high standards we have set over the last 25 years!
What changes have you seen, with regard to investment, over the last 5 years?
Though holding cash was always seen as a sure bet, the extremely low cash deposit interest rates have led a lot of clients to reconsider this as a long term investment. We have seen this particularly for personal and corporate funds. It has proven challenging for investors with many looking for solutions that have the potential to generate higher returns without taking significantly higher levels of risk. Thankfully there are some solutions available so that client’s money isn’t losing real value over time.
What does being located in Galway offer your business?
It allows Harvest to offer our clients the best of both worlds – we’re accessible to meet clients locally while having the scale and expertise of a national brand.
What is the best piece of advice you have been given?
I was told when I started working as a financial advisor that my job is to make sure people have enough money in the right hands should they die too early or live too long! Having a young family and planning for my own early retirement it is advice I’ve taken and I pass on to our clients!
Harvest Financial Services
Tel: +353 (0) 1 237 5500