Feature in New Model Adviser’s “Top 35 Next Generation Financial Planners”

Alasdair Walker

Age: 29

Director, Hunter Aitkenhead and Walker

Prominent NextGen Planners member Alasdair Walker has been spreading the word about financial planning.



Some more on the practitioner panel (from our blog)

Alasdair has been appointed to the Personal Finance Society’s (PFS) Financial Planning Practitioner Panel for 2018/19. Aiming to help shape best practice, opinion, and PFS’s lobbying strategy, Alasdair hopes he can help to improve public access to valuable financial planning.

The panel launched just last year with the aim of encouraging the “sharing of skills, techniques and good practices” among members. Alasdair is one of three new panel members to join the esteemed cohort, which appoints members on a rolling three-year basis.

Alasdair said: “I’m really pleased to have been appointed to the panel. Anything I can do to improve access to and the quality of financial planning across the country has got to be worthwhile.”

During its inaugural year, the Financial Planning Practitioner Panel developed and shared a range of continuing professional development with members of the professional body. Among the materials have been good practice guides, client testimonial videos, case studies, articles and a live event. Alasdair will now work with the other members of the panel to build on this success and take its aims into its second year, hosting a second conference as well as best-practice workshops across the country. This appointment is pro-bono and undertaken in Alasdair’s free time.

Sharon Sutton, President of PFS and panellist, said: “I am passionate about the power financial planning has to genuinely change people’s lives. I wanted our members to have access to the vast experience of their peers in applying a range of skills and techniques to help improve the outcomes for their clients.

“This year has gone by in a flash, but I am proud of what the team has achieved and how great the feedback has been from members. Since inviting new members to be part of the panel we have been overwhelmed by the response. Whilst it does allow us to build a balanced panel, it’s a shame we can’t involve everyone at the same time.”

Alasdair will be using his expertise to help benefit the profession of financial planning, and in turn, the service delivered to clients. Having joined us in 2011, Alasdair sits on both our Board of Directors and Investment Committee, as well working closely with clients. He has expertise in pension and investment planning, both for private clients and small businesses, and is authorised to deal with Defined Benefit pension transfers.

Alasdair Walker appointed to the Financial Planning Practitioner Panel

Comments for The I Newspaper, 6th June 2018

Financial advisers generally say everyone’s circumstances are different, and that people should not feel overwhelmed by the recommended amounts.

“My first answer when people ask me how much they should save is ‘as much as you can reasonably afford’. That usually isn’t considered a solid enough answer. The rule of thumb ‘half your age as a percentage’ is a good enough starting point. Most people get employer contributions and government tax relief, which will bring this down,” says Alasdair Walker, a chartered financial planner at Hunter Aitkenhead & Walker.


People in their twenties should be paying £190 a month into their pension, say experts

Comments in The Independent Daily Edition, 2nd June 2018

Alasdair Walker, a chartered financial planner at Hunter Aitkenhead & Walke, says there’s no need to despair even if you’re already 35 with nothing saved, you just need to work out what has to be done.

“The good news is that a 35-year-old can start their retirement saving from £0, and still retire comfortably,” he insists.

Walker adds: “It might take a little more work but it’s definitely doable. The rule of thumb has always been whatever age you start saving, save half your age as a percentage of your annual income for the rest of your working life. A 20-year-old with amazing forward-planning would save 10 per cent, but a 40 year old would save 20 per cent. So, not an impossible task, but not painless either.

“How can we make this easier? My favourite method borrows from behavioural finance and is called ‘Save more tomorrow’. It’s easier to commit tomorrow’s budget than today’s, so start today with what you can reasonably afford, and agree (preferably with your pension provider or employer) that you will increase contributions annually for the next five years.

“That might look like 5 per cent today, and a commitment to add 2 per cent a year. Studies have shown this to be incredibly effective – in one example savings rates increased from 3.5 per cent to 13.6 per cent, with relatively little pain.”

If that still sounds painful to you then remember that it’s not all your contribution.

“The other point to remember is that the rule of thumb is ‘total savings’,” he explains. “A basic-rate taxpayer in employment can expect a minimum employer contribution to their pension of 3 per cent PA and a government top-up of 25 per cent on anything they save. The rather daunting 20 per cent target for a 40-year-old then becomes 13.6 per cent, after top-ups.”

The full article can be found here:



Comments in Sunday Telegraph article, 19th November 2017

Alasdair Walker of Hunter Aitkenhead & Walker, a financial planning firm, said:

What an exciting portfolio! The investor is clearly an expert and enjoys actively trading funds, which is not surprising considering his past employment.

The past five years have seen bull markets in most asset types, and taking more risk has generally been rewarded across the board, but one question I would ask in relation to this portfolio is: “What if the tech sector had major issues?”

This would have an impact not only on those funds explicitly focused on technology, such as Pictet Robotics and Polar Capital Global Technology, but also on BlackRock US Dynamic, whose top three holdings are Apple, Alphabet (Google’s parent company) and Microsoft, which account for more than 10pc of the fund.

Another area to explore is whether the costs of active management of the funds are being suitably rewarded. Taking BlackRock US Dynamic, for example, and comparing against a broad US index tracker such as Vanguard US Equity Index, an investor would have had very similar returns after charges, but would have paid 0.1pc a year rather than around 0.9pc.

More fundamentally, a “DIY” investor may not have the time, inclination or expertise to manage this type of complex investment strategy.

For those who want an easier time, a simple and low-cost portfolio with 60pc in a global stock market index tracker and 40pc in a global bond tracker (I’d recommend the Vanguard LifeStrategy 60pc fund) would have produced an annualised return of 9.4pc over the past three years and 10.2pc over five years, with little need for input from the investor and with costs of less than 0.25pc a year.


The Top 35 Next Generation Advisers 2017

Since appearing in last year’s New Model Adviser® Rising Stars, Alasdair Walker has continued to be involved with cashflow planning, fund selection and portfolio construction at Leicester-based Hunter Aitkenhead & Walker. He is also involved with recruitment and brand and business development.

Walker is active in the Next Gen Planner group of young advisers.

Top 2017 achievements
This year Walker arranged and hosted a workshop on coaching skills for advisers for a local institute.


Don’t sign on the dotted line: IFAs start e-signature campaign

Don’t sign on the dotted line: IFAs start e-signature campaign

A group of IFAs have begun a campaign pressing providers to offer electronic signatures for pension products, so they can ‘go green’ and move to paperless offices.

Prudential recently began a new ‘e-signature’ service, Prudential eSign. Now several members of the NextGen Planners network are pushing for other providers to do the same.

Alasdair Walker, director of Leicester-based Hunter Aitkenhead & Walker, Jane Hodges, managing director of London-based Money Honey Financial Planning, and Adam Carolan, NextGen co-founder and director of Cheshire-based Xentum, have begun asking providers whether they offer automated signatures.

Carolan said: ‘We did a recent brief survey of how much time and money it is costing both firm and client to deal with paperwork, and it is amazing how much it was. I plan to name and shame the providers not using e-signatures on 1 January 2018, which gives firms three months to get up to speed.’



How Planners are Changing Their Portfolio Picks Amongst Global Uncertainty

Alasdair Walker

Hunter Aitkenhead & Walker

For the past six months, the fall in yields has led Leicestershire-based Hunter Aitkenhead & Walker to manage its clients’ expectations about income, according to director Alasdair Walker.

‘Previously, we said 4% was a reasonable expectation of sustainable income,’ he said. ‘That is now closer to 3.5%, reflecting the gradual reduction in average yield of the FTSE 100. As well as the increase in valuations, we think this is due to reduced pressure on UK companies to provide yield because it is so low in other asset classes such as cash and gilts.’

Adding diversity

Walker said that, based on a total return approach, good investment performance over the past two years had offset this yield reduction. But, given heightened political and economic uncertainty and his prediction of stodgy growth over the next four years, this cushion may no longer be available.

The firm has responded by looking beyond the FTSE to a more multi-cap approach. Though this adds volatility it also adds a crucial level of diversity, said Walker. He said another response to lower yields had been to focus more on investment costs, by moving towards tracker funds.

‘For example, Invesco Perpetual Income has a yield of 3.1%, but Vanguard FTSE UK All Share Index tracker yields 3.5%,’ he said. ‘We have been switching into Vanguard and have reduced costs by around 0.8% or 0.9% without giving up any yield. In a low-growth environment, this can mean a lot.’

Moving out

Just before and immediately after the Brexit vote, Hunter Aitkenhead & Walker sold most of its large commercial property holdings, before the funds were suspended. It also bought into government bonds or strategic bonds in income portfolios.

Walker said the only response to current uncertainty was to take a neutral stance and ensure your portfolio was as diversified as possible. ‘We don’t know what events in the UK, US and Europe will mean for investments,’ he said. ‘We were using commercial property as a bond proxy, but now we have moved back to a more mainstream approach.’

He said he had observed a general move among other planners towards a total return model for income, rather than just seeking yield. ‘There have been attempts to get yield above the market, but we have seen advisers and wealth managers burnt by going into emerging market instruments, for example, looking for yield,’ he said.


New Model Adviser Rising Stars: The 35 Top Young Advisers of 2016

Alasdair Walker has gained a number of qualifications since joining Leicester-based Hunter Aitkenhead & Walker in 2011, attaining level six from the PFS in financial planning process (AF5) and personal tax and trust planning (AF1). Walker now has a number of duties at Hunter Aitkenhead & Walker, including asset allocation, cashflow planning and portfolio responsibilities.

On an ad hoc basis he gives pro bono advice to relatives of clients and his own friends and family.

Top 2016 achievements:

The past 12 months have seen Walker install a more modern back-office software into the office, which helped streamline many of the firm’s processes and improve client servicing.