IFAM: The Unity Mutual brand is now over a year old but it may not be one that is entirely familiar to financial advisers and paraplanners. Can you give us some background to the organisation?
JH: Unity Mutual is the trading name of the Financial Services division of The Oddfellows, a Society that has over 200 years of experience, assets of £500 million and a high solvency ratio. Being owned by its members, for its members, the Society has a fantastic proposition for its member base, aiming to improve the quality of people’s lives through friendship, care and charitable support.
Unity Mutual is positioned as the ‘modern mutual’, offering a wide range of family-friendly financial products. We feel that our product range will appeal to those clients wanting sound investments to safeguard theirs and their families futures, with market leading interest rates* and all the benefits of working with a truly modern mutual.
IFAM: How do you see Unity Mutual’s roots as a not-for-profit friendly society underpinning its relevance today to meet clients’ needs?
JH: Being part of the Society offers our customers and the advisers who deal with us the peace of mind from knowing that we’ve been in existence for a long time and have successfully navigated our way through the changing landscape of the financial services industry. We are financially strong, having also made four acquisitions over the last twelve years. Our financial strength is displayed in our products and the peace of mind that we offer to the customer. As a mutual, there are no shareholders to consider, we are owned by our members for the benefit of the members.
IFAM: As well as being a mutual, what other aspects of your business make you different from other financial services product providers?
JH: We are big enough to offer the appropriate financial security to customers and yet small enough to offer a bespoke service to advisers. We welcome working with IFAs and listening to their feedback, particularly around any gaps in the market that we have the ability and flexibility to address.
IFAM: Do you believe that your underlying principles and values are important in developing trusting and long term client relationships?
JH: I’m sure that as they hear more from us, advisers will learn that we have already been successful for a very long time. We remain very true to our values and have no plans to change. We feel that working with IFAs is key to our future growth strategy and we strive to give them the confidence in our products and services.
We would ask that if paraplanners and advisers see a product of ours which meets their particular client’s needs – please keep us in mind and give us a try. We are certain that we will also deliver that same great service to them that we currently offer to our customers directly.
IFAM: Can you give us a brief summary of your range of products – in particular those which you believe are of most interest and relevance to financial advisers and their clients?
JH: At Unity Mutual, we believe that the ‘family friendly finance’ phrase is extremely important and as such, we offer savings for the whole family. We’re one of a few providers that offer the Lifetime ISA and ours has the market-leading interest rate* of 1.5% in addition to the Government bonus! The unique LISA that we offer protects the client’s capital investment and we guarantee the interest rate on a tax-year basis unlike cash providers who can change the rate with only 30 days’ notice. This gives the investor peace of mind.
We also offer a Guaranteed Investment Bond that offers a compound growth rate of 11.76% over a five year period, so if IFAs have clients who have money to put away for this length of time and for whose risk tolerance it is in line then this is a great option for them. Investors have access to their money at any time** for any reason at all. Again, the capital is protected and the return is guaranteed plus there are the FSCS guarantees.
Our Stocks and Shares Junior ISA is perfect if clients are looking to save for their child, grandchild, niece or nephew. Savings start from as little as £10 per month.
We remain true to our Friendly Society roots by offering traditional ten year tax-exempt savings policies (as to where customers can invest £25 per month or £270 per year tax free)
IFAM: How important is it for you to develop intermediary relationships and work with independent advisers and what resources and communications channels are available for them to get the information they need?
JH: We always strive to make the experience of dealing with us easy and enjoyable for all our customers – and advisers are no exception. Working with advisers is always a pleasure for us and developing those relationships is extremely important for our business. We hope the range of investment products along with the guarantees we give, will be a very appealing proposition for the IFA community and their clients.
Having worked together previously, Dean Brandreth re-joined me here at Unity Mutual at the beginning of the year to further our Business Development function. Dean has enjoyed some great partnerships with advisers over the years and I know that he is looking forward to reconnecting with advisers and developing new partnerships. IFA Magazine readers can contact him by email firstname.lastname@example.org and he is more than happy to help with any questions or queries.
Last but not least, our team are always on hand to help and is available by email, phone or face-to-face appointments can be arranged if that’s the adviser’s preference. If an adviser has any particular query about the products, the suitability of them for their clients or just fancy a chat with the team, we want to make this as easy as possible for them and look forward to working with them in years to come.
The team can be contacted on 0161 214 4652.
About Julie Hansen
Julie is Director of Distribution at Unity Mutual and has over 20 years of experience in Financial Services including building sales teams, developing products and new distribution channels. She joined Unity Mutual 12 months ago to open up new distribution channels and expand the product range. Having started out as an adviser, she appreciates what a difficult but rewarding job it is that advisers have. She also understands advisers’ interest in market developments and unique products that they can offer their clients to meet their changing needs.