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IFA Magazine interview with Julie Hansen

Published 07 October 2019 - Julie Hansen, Director of Distribution for Unity Mutual, was recently interviewed for an article published in 'Independent Financial Advisor Magazine'. Here is that article.

 

 

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?

Unity Mutual is 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. Here at Unity Mutual, we feel that our product range will appeal to those wanting sound, protected investments to safeguard theirs and their families futures, with market leading interest rates* and all the benefits of working with a truly modern mutual.

How do you see Unity Mutual’s roots as a not-for-profit friendly society underpinning its relevance today to meet clients’ needs?

Being part of the Society offers our customers and Advisers peace of mind 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 exceptionally financially strong, having also made 4 acquisitions over the last 12 years and 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.

What other aspects of your business makes you different from other financial services product providers?

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.

Do you believe that your underlying principles and values are important in developing trusting and long term client relationships?

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 that meets their particular client’s needs – please keep us in mind and give us a try, we are certain we will also deliver that same great service to them that we currently offer our customers directly. We believe that we currently have a product for everyone and wish to build on that going forward with some exciting developments planned.

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?

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 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 complete peace of mind.

We offer a Guaranteed Investment Bond that sees a growth of 11.76% over a five year period – so if IFAs have those customers that have money to put away – 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 you have customers wanting 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 a traditional ten year tax-exempt savings policies (as to where customers can invest £25 per month or £270 per year tax free)

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?

We always strive to make the experience easy and enjoyable for our customers and aim to offer the same to advisers. working with Advisers is always a pleasure and developing those relationships is extremely important to Unity Mutual. The range of investment products along with the guarantees we give, we hope will be a very appealing proposition for the IFA industry.

Having worked together previously, Dean Brandreth re-joined me at the beginning of the year to further the Business Development function, Dean has enjoyed some great partnerships with advisers over the years and I know he is looking forward to reconnecting with Advisers and developing new partnerships. He can be contacted at dean.brandreth@unitymutual.co.uk and is more than happy to help with any questions or queries.

The team are always on hand to help, they are available by email, phone or face-to-face appointments can be arranged. If an adviser has any particular query about the products, the suitability of them for their customers 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 as we add to our product portfolio.

The team can be contacted on 0161 214 4652.

Julie Hansen 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 advisers have and understand they are interested in market developments and unique products that they can offer their clients to meet their changing needs.

 

*Sources - Lifetime ISAs How they work, who they're for & all best buys 12 March 2019 https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/savings/lifetime-isas/

**In the event of withdrawal during the term, interest is payable as per the example https://www.unitymutual.co.uk/savings-for-you/investment-bond/

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