Members and directors of the award-winning First Choice team, winners of the Munster broker of the year prize at the Brokers Ireland Life, Pensions and Investment Awards | Pictures: Adrian Butler
LIMERICK financial services company, First Choice Financial Services has been named ‘Best Broker in Munster’ at this year’s prestigious Brokers Ireland Life, Pensions and Investment Awards in Dublin.
The firm, which employs 17 people at its offices on Lower Mallow Street in the city, beat off stiff competition from six shortlisted brokers throughout the province to secure the accolade.
As well as winning ‘2018 Munster Broker of the Year’, First Choice was also shortlisted for the national titles of “Mortgage Broker of the Year” and ‘Life and pensions broker of the year’.
Managing director at First Choice, Barry White said the future is looking bright for the company.
“We’ve been in business almost 20 years and this award is a reflection of all the hard work and dedication that our team provides to our clients, said Mr. White.
“Each financial specialist working with the company is ‘best in class’ and highly qualified. We’re hoping to grow and expand our team so that we can remain the best financial broker.
“Our philosophy is simple. We don’t take on a client unless we believe we can add real value,” he added.
To demonstrate this value, First Choice financial services MD Mr White has outlined his six top reasons why more homeowners and businesses are now trusting brokers to solve their financial problems, rather than high street banks.
Whether you’re trying to get on the housing ladder, upsizing to a second home, or simply trying to get a better deal on your existing mortgage, First Choice can save you time, offering you a 360-degree view on all providers.
Mainstream lenders only offer you their products.
First Choice brokers analyse all mortgage providers to find you the best rates, saving you time and stress.
“People are very busy and therefore we can meet clients in their homes after work. We also assess all banks’ mortgage offerings available through the broker channel so with one visit you get access to the most suitable option for you,” said First Choice mortgage specialist Cathal Parkes.
“We understand you’re looking for a home, not a mortgage. We analyse all mortgage providers using the broker channel in Ireland and find the one most suitable for your financial circumstances,” he added.
Unlike conventional banks, First Choice brokers offers a coaching service to its clients, meaning if they are not ready for a mortgage just yet, they will make sure they are on a pathway to being eligible for one in a relatively short time.
“If a client comes in, and they are not mortgage-ready, say, their current account bank statements don’t evidence the appropriate repayment capacity, we will give them a path to follow to become ‘mortgage ready’” said Mr White.
“It’s this approach which makes First Choice more accessible to people, who might feel apprehensive about going to a high-street bank.
“We will work to tackle some of the roadblocks which can meet first-time buyers.”
Makes Switching Simple
If you have been paying a mortgage for many years, you often feel a sense of loyalty to your current provider and inertia can prevent you from reconsidering your options.
But it can be worth thousands of euro to switch lenders.
Financial broker First Choice makes switching simple as it will look at your specific needs and circumstances and examine the options best for you.
“Thousands of savings can be made just by one simple switch and indeed many banks will even pay the client’s legal and valuation charges,” said Mr. White. “We take the hassle out of it for you and can quickly assess if it is worth your while,” he added.
Alternate Finance for Business and Farmers
First Choice Financial Services also supports small and medium sized businesses by offering them access to alternate finance.
There are over 30 finance providers offering an array of financial products or services in Ireland, with more emerging every day.
“Whether you’re a farmer, small business or a start-up, we can look at your financial requirements and secure the best finance for you.
“We are loan assessors for Microfinance Ireland and mentors for Limerick City Enterprise Office,” said Mr White
“We are experts in this field. Evidence of this is the fact that we have held the role of Senior and Agri-Reviewer with the Governments Credit Review Office since 2010,” he added.
“Brian McAuliffe in our office is a small farmer himself and holds a green cert. He is a fundraising expert for farmers and really understands the current struggles of modern farming.
First Choice is one of 50 companies regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland to provide debt management advice. It acts as a mediator between the client and the bank/vulture fund, resolving the client’s financial issue as quickly and effectively as possible.
“One of the more rewarding aspects of my job is seeing a client, an individual, company or a combination, get their life back on track after being heavily in debt,” said Paul Kerr, debt consultant at First Choice.
“We make it very simple. One of the first things we get from the client is a letter of authority.
“So instead of the banks ringing them; the banks / vulture fund rings us. It’s a huge weight off the client’s shoulders.
“Generally, clients who we assist in resolving their debt, become lifetime clients of First Choice for pension, investment and other financial advice,” he added.
First Choice can offer those with money to invest sound financial advice. The broker takes a client through a defined process, helping the client identify what they want to achieve with their investment.
“Any client coming into us gets a complete financial audit. We want to ensure our clients and their families are protected in the event of unexpected events, such as illness or death,” said Mr White.
“We rigorously assess all our clients, to establish their appetite for risk.
“We then match this to the most suitable funds available in the market.
“We update the client on their investment or pension fund performance on a quarterly basis and have face to face meetings with our clients twice a year, which helps to ensure the clients investments are kept in line with their requirements.”
Find out how First Choice Financial Services can help you: Make an appointment at its Limerick branch, 12th floor, Riverpoint, Lower Mallow Street, Limerick City or call 061 317260. For further information visit www.fcfs.ie