Matt & Rachel Fowler – Finding Financial Freedom
Put simply, Matt and Rachel Fowler are good people – the type who remind you of the best of humanity and leave a residue of positivity in their wake as they navigate everyday life. Altruistic, ambitious (without stepping on others in their pursuit of success) and community-focused, they are the founders of Fowler Financial Planning, a financial advice firm, based on the ever-vibrant Magdalen Road, Exeter. I recently met with them to discuss the world of financial management and their journey in business so far. We were also joined by their baby Pippa who made a few contributions of her own to our discussion!
Born into a forces family, Rachel moved around a lot growing up, including from the Highlands of Scotland down to Somerset. She explained,
“Exeter was the first place that I had a hand in choosing for myself as I came here to study Law and French Law at University. Via France and Brussels (where I met Matt at the Brussels Barbarians Rugby Club), I eventually moved to London where I qualified as a solicitor before moving to Jersey where I practiced law for a few years.”
“When Matt decided that he wanted to set up his own business, we discussed where we might want to base ourselves and I had such fond memories of Exeter that it quickly rose to the top of our list of ideal locations. In particular, it was really ‘on the up’ in terms of its economy and infrastructure as well as having such a fantastic rugby team – a sport that has always been important to us both.”
Matt, on the other hand, grew up in Somerset and was educated in Bristol. He studied, in his words, “the conversation killer” at the University of Warwick – a degree in Maths, Operational Research Statistics and Economics (or MORSE for short). This lead to a place on the graduate scheme of Lloyds Bank during which he was seconded to Brussels, moving into Retail Banking in London and then into a Risk Analytics role covering the whole of the UK, before qualifying into Corporate Banking.
After getting engaged, Matt and Rachel agreed that the London life was not for them and they moved to Jersey where Rachel practiced law and Matt worked in Alternative Investment Funds.
Looking back over his career so far, Matt commented,
“The genesis of Fowler Financial Planning (FFP) really came from the realisation that I didn’t want to exist within the incredibly corporate world that I had started my career in. I am the simplest complex person that you will ever meet. I have a complicated thought process and I really enjoy grappling with a range of challenging and complex concepts, but I can’t abide corporate politics and a lot of the rubbish that comes with working in big businesses.”
He went on,
“I wanted to be able to offer similar services and advice to clients to a big corporate, but with all of the heart and people-centricity that comes with being an independent financial advisor. To put it bluntly, to offer first-rate advice but with a solid ethos and a robust value-system.”
Rachel, on the other hand, stepped back from a very successful career in law in order to join FFP in a Business Development and Marketing capacity. She was at the stage where she was considering becoming a Partner at her firm but decided that she didn’t want to spend the next thirty years working thirteen-hour days and weekends – making the sacrifices required in her personal life for the sake of her career.
I sensed a health, humility and self-awareness in Rachel’s description of this decision-making process which spoke of an inner-strength and bravery to look the golden idol of a lucrative career in the face and forego its lure for the sake of protecting her marriage and her plans to start a family in the not too distant future. Now that little Pippa has come into the world, just a matter of years later, this decision has already borne fruit.
Back to business… Fowler Financial Planning is a Partner Practice of St James’s Place Wealth Management – a FTSE 100 company and one of the UK’s leading wealth management operations, managing client funds of £112.8 billion. So, FFP are genuinely well-positioned as a firm of local, warm and friendly advisors but with the backing and re-assurance of an industry-leading firm.
It was evident in conversation that Matt primarily sees his role as being a problem-solver. At a basic level, people come to him with financial problems and he simply finds solutions to those problems. He commented,
“Working face-to-face directly with the people whose finances you are advising on is so rewarding. It is the first role I have ever had where someone has said ‘Thank you’ to me!”
Started in November 2016 in the spare room of their home, the company has grown quicker than even the meticulous planning of Matt could’ve prepared for. Initially working on his own, they now have a team of six people and are looking to scale to around twenty in the next few years. This growth has meant that they have secured their first business premises on Magdalen Road and are in the process of extending the office to prepare for their future growth plans.
“Financial Planning is about having a mindful and intentional strategy for your finances. This can range from securing insurances or protection against unforeseen circumstances to taking an objective ‘bird’s eye view’ look at what your finances are currently going to mean for your future. This in itself can lead to restructuring finances and achieving a level of financial clarity and peace of mind which, perhaps, hasn’t been enjoyed before. It is not uncommon to hear our clients tell us that they are living today better because they understand what tomorrow looks like more clearly.”
In a world that, for good and for bad, is driven by money, empowering people to live better and more ethical financial lives is an important role – one that Matt and Rachel Fowler take very seriously indeed. And with a young, energetic and passionate team behind them, they are geared for sustainable growth and a bright future indeed.
For more information, visit www.fowlerfp.co.uk or call Fowler Financial Planning on 01392 790623.
Written by Joff Alexander-Frye
Photos supplied by Matt & Rachel Fowler