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Gwyn strikes gold in top finance qualification

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A talented young financial planner has become one of the youngest in the UK to achieve a top qualification known as the gold standard in his profession.

At the age of just 27, Gwyn Edwards of Wrexham-based Hadlow Edwards Wealth Management has passed his Chartered Financial Planner exams.

Gwyn runs the London office of Hadlow Edwards which is a Principal Partner Practice of the FTSE 100 Company St. James’s Place Wealth Management, one of the UK’s largest wealth management organisations which looks after client funds of £83 bn.

It’s a mark of Gwyn’s achievement that according to the latest Chartered Insurance Institute (CII) figures, which oversees the Chartered Financial Planner qualifications, only 17 per cent of the 25,000 financial planners in the UK hold the title. The average national age for achieving the qualification is 47.

He also has the distinction of being part of only the second father and son duo within St. James’s Place to have the prestigious qualification. His father, Medwyn Edwards, who founded Hadlow Edwards with joint owner Warren Hadlow in 2000, already holds it.

Gwyn heads up Hadlow Edwards’ Mayfair office which was opened by the firm last year because of increasing client numbers in the capital and south east region.

He studied for his advanced qualifications alongside his high profile day job and it is now the end of a four-year journey to reach the top.

Gwyn said: “I began working towards the exams for the Level 4 Diploma in Regulated Financial Planning in 2013. At the same time I was studying for the qualification I was also working as a trainee financial adviser, which at times was quite demanding but I achieved it about a year later.

“In the summer of 2015 I then began studying for the next stage, which is the Financial Planning Advanced Diploma. That took the best part of two years and involved four exams, the last one being in April this year.

“I passed the exam and obtained the qualification and now have the title of Chartered Financial Planner.”

Gwyn added: “Gaining all the advanced qualifications certainly involved a long and intensive period of study.

“In the weeks leading up to the exam for the advanced diploma I was working during the week and then revising every weekend.

“I know that most people in the industry who have the qualification get it in their thirties and forties and at the stage of having families and children, so I can imagine how hard it was for them doing all the necessary studying on top of having a full-time job.

“I was very lucky that my partner Nia Beynon was very understanding and supportive.

“Given my age I think being a Chartered Financial Planner will help give me a bit more authority when it comes to dealing with clients and help them to feel more comfortable with me.

“After all, people could be putting their entire savings in my hands and trust is the most important thing in this business. I think the title, along with the extensive training to achieve this, will help strengthen that as far as I’m concerned.

“It’s also good that both my dad and I now hold the same title and that I got it at an earlier stage in my career than he did!

“I’m relieved that all the studying is over and I’m very proud to be a Chartered Financial Planner as having the qualification gives me a sense of satisfaction.”

Gwyn is a former Llandovery College student and won a scholarship to the prestigious Carmarthenshire independent school due to his prowess on the rugby field.

After a spell of living and working in New Zealand with two friends, Gwyn decided to forge a career in the same industry as his father.

Although his playing career was cut short by injury, he still turns out regularly as a centre for his local team in West Hamsptead, UCS Old Boys RFC, and says he is currently training hard for the new season.

For more information about Hadlow Edwards go to www.hadlowedwards.co.uk

Five star success for top fabric firm Simon Boyd

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A local businessman who started out over 40 years ago has created a soft furnishings empire that is now believed to be the UK’s largest independent fabric retailer.

Peter Grimes’s chain of four Simon Boyd shops now includes Premiership footballers, the top five star London hotel, The Corinthia and the world famous Gleneagles Hotel and golf resort among its clients.

With a factory outlet in Wrexham and stores in Chester, Knutsford and Shrewsbury, Simon Boyd Ltd is the last man standing in the fabric manufacturing business in North Wales and the North West following the demise of Laura Ashley and more recently the closure of Montgomery’s in Broughton in 2013.

The company now employs around 70 people across the four sites and Peter’s daughters, Nikole and Cordelia, are both directors. Nikole is based at the Shrewsbury store and Cordelia is in Knutsford.

They source most of their fabrics direct from mills in Italy, Spain, Turkey and Belgium, but they also stock big name brands such as Sanderson, Morris & Co, Romo and Harlequin. As a result, they have a range of more than 50,000 options of curtain and upholstery fabrics.

In addition, Peter has established an extremely successful separate property company, which has an extensive portfolio of properties in Manchester, Cheshire, and North Wales including apartments, shops and factories.

According to Peter, one of the secrets of their success has been the expert guidance of chartered accountants Coxeys who have offices in Wrexham and Saltney.

He said: “It’s absolutely imperative that you have the right financial and tax advice when you’re running a company. Coxeys have helped Simon Boyd to develop and grow – they are providing expert support that’s enabling us to maximise our potential and grasp opportunities when they present themselves.”

He recalled: “I always knew that I wanted to do something in business, there was an entrepreneurial spirit lurking within and I started with a small amount of stock which I sold to market stalls and shops in North Wales.

“Our first shop was in Chester and then we progressed from there to South Manchester, Shrewsbury and we bought the old Laura Ashley premises in Wrexham which is our factory, Head Office, and factory shop.”

“We aim at the middle market – the John Lewis customer is absolutely perfect for us. The products they get are from similar mills or the same mills as us but they go through a converter so we’ve always got the edge on price.

“The scale of the operation now has far exceeded my initial expectations.”

Carla Huxley, the operations director, is a key figure who started in the business 21 years ago.

She said: “We have a huge catchment area. People travel for miles because of the size of our range and the sheer quality of our fabrics, allied to extremely competitive pricing. At the factory shop in Wrexham, people travel from as far as Barmouth and Anglesey while our Shrewsbury store actually covers Wolverhampton and towards Birmingham.

“The Knutsford store brings in customers from the whole of the Manchester area and Cheshire, so between the four sites, we do cover a really large area. We even have one lady who makes regular trips from Ireland.

“We have our own workroom so we can provide bespoke manufacturing but we have just as many customers who come in just to buy the fabric, or to purchase ready-made curtains.”

“We also do a lot of contract work. The Corinthia Hotel in London was a commission via an interior designer as we work in close communication with a number of designers. That was a fantastic job because we did the main dining area.

“Because we are specialists in this type of unique manufacturing the Project Manager travelled from London to our factory to commission us for the work. The windows were very big arched shape so the curtains had to be tailored specifically to those windows, so it was a very complicated job.”

“Through the Knutsford store, we carry out work for premiership footballers but because of client confidentiality I can’t name names unfortunately.”

Chartered accountant Michael Coxey said: “We are delighted that we have been able to play our part in the Simon Boyd success story. They are great ambassadors for business and industry, companies like this are the backbone of our economy. They have quality products and excellent pricing which is why they have such a loyal customer base in all the areas they serve.”