Peter Barfoot, Chairman of Barfoots, describes how Close Brothers’ personal and innovative approach to structuring their pensions helped him secure the future of his business.
My name is Peter Barfoot I am the Chairman of a farming and agri-food business. It produces exotic vegetables with farmers in 36 countries around the world and most of that product is then delivered through our system into the high street retailers and food service companies.
When I first started in business, like most entrepreneurs you have a will to build a business, you have a will to win, you have a will to succeed. One way or another you make your own luck and yes, you look for something that is interesting, something that you think is going to be a runner - we’re still looking for that today. We’re stood at the moment in a large chilli greenhouse where we’re growing various varieties of chillies for the public consumer. This glasshouse creates our summer production in England and the rest of the year we’ve got a one-stop chilli shop on our farming operation in West Africa.
Butternut squash, we were the first ones to bring butternut squash into the UK in 1990 from South Africa, now we sell 350-400 tonnes of butternut squash a week. The most important thing in any stage of running the business is to move forward, to have a vision, to have a business plan and that might be a five year plan leading into a ten year plan but you must be moving forward all the time. If you stand still you go backwards.
In terms of creating a pension and keeping that pension situation moving forward, Close Brothers have the quality of advice to give me to take me on that journey and whereas ten years ago it was all about building up a very large self-administered pension scheme, in case we needed to use that within the business and we did at times use that to buy some land, that is now moved on because of my situation and also the family’s situation in the business has moved on to private SIPP’s for everybody and most of it towards the benefit of taking me through into my retirement years, although I can’t see that happening immediately, the plans are being put in place.
Close Brothers deliver the detail, they deliver the mathematics and hopefully the profitability on the pension arrangement but it is that personal management that really matters with a client. The personal relationship with that manager, who manages my portfolio, is the central ingredient with doing business with Close Brothers. If that chemistry is not there, it’s not going to work no matter how good the sell is by whatever company you are trying to sell, you have to have the chemistry between the relationship manager and yourself. And whatever he doesn’t know in terms of the detail, he’s backed up by a top, top team that can supply that detail at a drop of a hat when it’s required and that makes you confident to have someone that you can trust to take you in the right direction and actually although he’s paid by Close Brothers he’s actually working for you and your benefit.