People lost trust in financial advisors after the boom - we're trying to repair that
My Big Idea
Published 07/08/2014 | 00:00
Deirdre Costello (44) worked in financial services for decades, but was unhappy selling products for just one company. The Galway resident, originally from New Inn outside Ballinasloe, set up an independent financial advice service with business partner Paul Tarpey four years ago. She spoke to Sarah McCabe
"Paul and I have known each other forever; he was friends with my brother and played hurling with an old boyfriend. He had plenty of experience at running his own business but our partnership, Costello and Tarpey Financial Services, was a first for me.
"Finance was always something I was good at, even in school. I worked as an employee for financial institutions for years but I always wanted to own my own business.
"When the opportunity arose to do something with Paul I jumped. We own the company 50:50. It was a bit of a leap, going from employee to business owner, but I am so glad I took the risk.
"Our service, offering independent financial advice, aims to help people make the most of their money. People make simple but costly financial mistakes all the time - we had someone come in recently who had €20,000 saved in a bank account earning only 2pc interest a year, and at the same time also had a €20,000 loan paying 7pc interest. He was losing 5pc every year without even realising it. There is so much confusion out there around subjects like savings schemes, pensions, life insurance and income protection.
"Our premise is that it is much easier to give the best financial advice when you are doing it as an individual, rather than on behalf of a company.
"Getting people to trust us has been the biggest challenge. A lot of people are afraid of financial service advisors. They think our only goal is to sell them something, which I think is a hangover from the Celtic Tiger days when banks and financial institutions really pushed products on people - selling rather than offering advice.
"We get commission from financial institutions when we sell their products, but we have a wide range of companies on board and they all pay us pretty much the same, so we don't feel we are biased by that.
"We offer a really different set of products - things like first day income protection, an idea we picked up from the UK. People taking out income protection usually have to wait weeks before it kicks in but ours starts immediately - if you lose your job you can claim it the next day.
"We have not taken any outside investment, building up the business from scratch ourselves and reinvesting our profits. We mainly get new clients from referrals so our reputation is everything. The company now employs four people, with a fifth coming on board in October.