A director at UAE-based Abacus Financial Consultants, Pindoria was nominated for the award by his peers. An independent panel of judges assessed the entries, which included statements about why individuals were deserving of recognition.
On the night, Pindoria walked away the winner.
But don’t assume that the ‘young’ part of the award means that Pindoria lacks experience or doesn’t have a deep understanding of what the industry needs.
Pindoria graduated with a business economics degree from Middlesex University and found himself unsure of his next steps. An opportunity arose to join a national IFA firm – in a recruitment position.
It was this glimpse into the industry and his growing interest in working with clients, to understand and meet their needs, that opened Pindoria’s eyes to financial advice as a career.
So, in 2004, he joined Lloyds Bank’s advisory training programme.
“I got qualified with a Certificate in Financial Planning, worked towards my diploma, moved on to their senior consultancy and then onto the private banking arm,” he explained.
“The bank was a fundamental part of how I developed. There was a real focus on compliance and the whole advisory process; from the initial terms and first meeting, explaining the terms of business, how you operate, how you’re qualified, who you are regulated by and so on.”
For Pindoria, there is a big difference between advisers who have been “brought up” through a bank and those who have joined an advice firm and learned their craft there.
Firms with a mass-market approach “tend to err on the side of caution”, he said. “A lot of our training was related to risk.”
It’s not a job
In 2008, Pindoria moved to the UAE to join an advice firm. He describes his time there as “feeling a bit like a square peg in a round hole”.
Having chafed in his first UAE-based adviser role; Pindoria, at the age of 33, set up Abacus Financial Consultants in 2013 with four partners.
“We wanted to create something that was forward thinking. We’ve got a fantastic blueprint from other very well regulated and more mature jurisdictions, so we applied those lessons to Abacus.
“I’ve always believed in treating customers fairly, doing the right thing and continuing your professional development. If you are a person of authority, you should have absolutely no issue saying to a client ‘this is what my company makes from this piece of advice’ or ‘this is the fee we are charging for it’.”
When asked why he felt he won the award, Pindora modestly replied: “I would say dedication and hard work; but, truthfully, it was because I made financial planning my career.
“I dedicated myself to this field of work. I got qualified and came out to the UAE. Legislation was changing in the UK and I sat my diploma papers in the UAE. I didn’t have to do that; but I wanted to, to make sure that I was still up there in terms of my credentials and reputation.”
Moving from his previous firm and setting up Abacus emphasised to Pindoria the difference a workplace can make.
“If everyone is qualified, or ‘in the knowledge’, then they would know if a proposition that was put in front of them was wrong. They can look at something and know that it doesn’t smell right, even if it is something that their company is promoting.
“If you don’t have the knowledge then you might doubt your right to ask questions and challenge it.
“When someone applies their knowledge, it empowers them to feel proud of what they are.”
For businesses in the UAE and other regions, Pindoria has a few words of advice.
“Have a clear process. Every client, in our opinion, should receive a financial planning report. If you’re giving advice you should be putting your name to it, so its clear what you are recommending and why it is right for that client, outlining the charges and so forth.”
Although the UAE is currently exempt from the Isle of Man Conduct of Business Code, which mandates that insurance companies must disclose fees and charges from July 2019, Pindoria believes that the sooner commission disclosure comes in, the better. “It just creates clarity.”
From a regulatory standpoint, a qualification specifically for advisers would be welcome.
Pindoria acknowledges that this would not be easy, “but you could have qualification criteria associated to things like risk, understanding risk/reward, the financial planning process, the whole life cycle, for example. Then touch on specialist areas such as taxation and trusts or UK tax planning”.
“When we apply our knowledge, we’re advising clients as opposed to selling to them,” he added.
Kay Pindoria is currently working towards achieving chartered status. Abacus Financial Consultants is regulated by the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA).