Barry Horner – Chief Executive Officer, Paradigm Norton Financial Planning Ltd 

“The directors all have a background in accounting. From day one, we took a ‘fee only’ approach to building the business, something which felt way ahead of its time then. 

Over the last decade we have focused on recruiting the ‘brightest and best’, those who are qualified at level 7. We put them through our graduate programme and leadership academy and it really gives us strength in depth.” 

In 2019 Paradigm Norton also became a B-Corp – which means it is equally committed to profit, people and the planet. The business is working to be carbon-neutral, a process guided by its ‘b-keepers’. 

Paradigm Norton also strove to identify positive impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. Technology has brought three offices split across the country closer together, to a point which Barry now describes as “It genuinely feels like one firm. Picking up the most-prestigious award a financial-planning firm can win – from the professional body we joined at the outset – is a huge honour for every single one of us. 

What was the secret ingredient in your awards entry last year which you think gave you an edge? 

Don’t forget that all of the finalists for this prestigious award will already be great financial planning firms – that’s a given. It is therefore the additional services or things that as a business you focus on, that will make your business and your entry stand out. This could be for example your evident commitment to the profession, how you work and serve your local community, how you are addressing the challenges of diversity and inclusion or why you chose to become a ‘B’ Corporation business. The judges are looking for ‘above and beyond’.  

What general tips can you offer anyone looking to enter this year? 

Entering any award takes time and effort as you have to convince the judges that your firm are worthy winners over and above many other amazing businesses. All I would say, is that it is well worth the effort. We have had such wonderful feedback from both our clients and the team. Because we were announced as the 2020/2021 winners ‘in lockdown’ rather than only a small number of the team being able to attend the awards dinner, we had all our team on video conference, awaiting the outcome. The feel-good factor on the night and since has been wonderful. Who doesn’t want to work for a firm or be a client of a firm that is voted ‘The best in the UK’! 

You have to carefully explain all of the great stuff that you do day-to-day for both your team, your clients and your local community. Go into detail, share some examples and think through what you do that other firms don’t do. What is going to make your entry really ‘pop’?  

Is there one top tip above all others? 

If there was just one tip that I might share, it would be to take your time over your application and make sure that yours is the one that really stands out. In my experience, you need to allow a good working day to do justice to an award application such as this one. Go beyond just answering the questions and look to why the questions were asked in the first place. Examples, examples and more examples is the key.  

As we emerge from the pandemic why is now an excellent time to enter the awards?  

The last fifteen months or so has been a real test and challenge for any business, so what could be better for boosting team morale than applying for this prestigious award and being told that you have won! If you feel that you have gone the extra mile for your team and clients in recent months, then let the judges know and give some examples of what you have done and what was the outcome.  

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