The end of the year is always a good time to stop the treadmill, take a step back and both reflect and celebrate what has been achieved as a business over the course of the past 12 months.

That’s certainly the case here at Wills & Trusts. From rising up nationally-recognised rankings and winning a number of prestigious awards, to expanding our premises and continuing our hugely important work in the communities we serve — we’re reflecting on a fantastic 2019 for our business and our people.

And it’s certainly the people that lie at the heart of our successes. Without committed individuals and talented teams who all come together to share in our vision and in our journey, the fantastic year we have experienced wouldn’t have been possible.

Here are just a few of the reasons why 2019 has been such a standout year for the team at Wills & Trusts:

Making a difference in our community

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) shouldn’t just be a buzzword; it should be a way of making a meaningful, tangible difference.

In 2019 we have raised £10,800 for various good causes close to our hearts – including Dogs for Good, Helen and Douglas House for terminally ill children and young adults, Enrych National and Florence Nightingale Hospice, while we also helped raise money for a new greenhouse for Home of Hope Orphanage.

However, our commitment to our communities isn’t restricted to raising money. In fact, 2019 saw one of our financial planners, Rachel Phillips, become a qualified Dementia Friend Champion and she has since gone on to train other members of the team to become Dementia Friends; enabling them to give a more tailored and supportive service to clients and families living with dementia.

We put time, effort and resources into our community because it’s the right thing to do – we don’t seek recognition for it. However, that doesn’t mean we’re not incredibly proud when we’re acknowledged for making a difference.

To that end, we were delighted to attend the Professional Adviser New Talent Awards in September, where Katy Howard, who chairs our Charity Committee, won the Charitable Deeds Award. A thoroughly deserved win, which reflects brilliantly on both Katy and our wider team in general.

On the subject of awards…

The Charitable Deeds Award came fresh off the back of our very own fund analyst, Carol Starkey, who was awarded ‘Trailblazer’ at the Fund Manager of the Year Awards in association with Investment Week.

This was a fantastic achievement for Carol, who said at the time: “I can see the impact of what we do – not just on the client but their whole families over many generations. It’s that feeling of doing something that matters, something that makes a difference.”

Growing our presence

We’ve been busy in 2019 growing our presence – both geographically and in terms of increasing our influence in the sector.

How have we done this? We were incredibly excited to expand our premises in September, expanding from our Oxfordshire base to open new offices in the heart of the country, in Ashby-de-la-Zouch, Leicestershire. This was an important and momentous step on our journey to further evolution and growth as we welcomed new members of the team and broadened our horizons and client base.

Another way in which we grew our presence in the sector was our attendance at the annual Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) event, a global gathering of financial advisers across the world exchanging insights and experiences.

Taking place this year in Miami, MDRT is a global association of more than 72,000 of the world’s leading life insurance and financial services professionals from more than 500 companies in 70 nations and territories. To be involved in this was not only a great experience but also helps enhance our reputation and standing in the industry.

Moving up the rankings

We’re proud of what we have achieved in 2019, but there is nothing like external verification from your peers to endorse what you are doing.

Last month we attended the prestigious FT Awards, in association with the Financial Times, where Wills & Trusts were named 59th best Independent Financial Planners in the country — a huge uplift from last year’s position of 96th.

This was the icing on the cake for us and shows that while we celebrate our successes internally, we’re being recognised for them across the industry nationally too.

Our Chief Operating Officer, Stuart Payne, summed up an incredible 12 months for the company. He said: “Our talented and dedicated team at Wills & Trusts work together to ensure we are offering the very highest quality service to our clients.”

“The collective ethos of our people has helped us to a number of exceptional wins in 2019 while we continue to make a difference in the community. I couldn’t be more proud and grateful to everybody in the team.”

“However, there will be no resting on our laurels. We’ve achieved a lot in 2019 and even though it is right that we celebrate our successes, we must use this landmark year as the foundation to even bigger and better things as we move into 2020.”

Here’s to a prosperous New Year!