THE CHAL­LENGE

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE -

EN­TREPRENEURS of­ten find them­selves do­ing business in crowded mar­ket­places where com­pe­ti­tion is wide­spread. To be suc­cess­ful business own­ers need to carve out a de­fined niche and seek to differentiate them­selves from oth­ers in both what they of­fer and how they of­fer it. Paul Mer­ri­man found such a niche when he set up Pax Fi­nan­cial Plan­ning to pro­vide in­de­pen­dent and jar­gon-free fi­nan­cial ad­vice to con­sumers.

PAX Fi­nan­cial Plan­ning was set up by Dubliner Paul Mer­ri­man in 2011 to pro­vide a fresh ap­proach to fi­nan­cial plan­ning prod­ucts and ser­vices. Head­quar­tered in Sandy­ford and with of­fices in Lim­er­ick and Cork, he now em­ploys 18 staff and this year, will see his com­pany’s an­nual turnover reach €1.4m. “We are es­sen­tially a fi­nan­cial bro­ker­ing and fi­nan­cial plan­ning business. Our aim is to ed­u­cate and ad­vise clients about all as­pect of their fi­nan­cial well­be­ing, fo­cus­ing pri­mar­ily on as­set/ wealth man­age­ment and per­sonal fi­nance,” says Paul. “In the area of as­set/wealth man­age­ment, we work with clients who are typ­i­cally in their 50s and who have sig­nif­i­cant as­sets in the form of ei­ther prop­erty, in­vest­ments or cash.

“We help them put in place struc­tures that will best pre­serve their wealth while tak­ing into ac­count rel­e­vant le­gal, tax and in­her­i­tance plan­ning is­sues for them­selves, their fam­i­lies and their busi­nesses,” he adds.

In the area of per­sonal fi­nance, Paul and his col­leagues pro­vide ad­vice on mort­gages (though he is keen to stress that his business does not ac­tu­ally ex­e­cute on mort­gages), those look­ing to take out pen­sions, put in place life-as­sur­ance poli­cies, in­come pro­tec­tion or spec­i­fied ill­ness cover. They also cater for those who have large sums they wish to put into sav­ing and in­vest­ment funds or who want to save for their chil­dren’s’ ed­u­ca­tion.

While he has a var­ied mix of in­di­vid­ual and business clients Paul has also man­aged to de­velop strong re­la­tion­ships with spe­cific pro­fes­sions, in­clud­ing GPS, pilots, and ac­coun­tants — with most of his new clients com­ing by way of re­fer­rals.

Paul is up­beat and en­gag­ing and be­lieves he has the best job in the world.

“I love this business. I have seen clients turn into long-time friends over the years. There is no bet­ter sat­is­fac­tion than see­ing peo­ple be­gin to draw down their pen­sions when they reach that age and know that they have the re­sources in place to en­joy their re­tire­ment free from fi­nan­cial wor­ries and stress,” he says.

“I have also been able to help peo­ple who have lost loved ones draw down death claims and while this is a most ter­ri­ble time for them and their fam­i­lies, it’s re­ward­ing to be able to help them have ac­cess to the se­cu­rity these poli­cies pro­vide in their time of need.”

Paul grew up in Tal­laght. His fa­ther ran his own com­mer­cial build­ing com­pany while his brother-in-law had a suc­cess­ful con­tract paint­ing com­pany.

“From a young age I was ex­posed to con­ver­sa­tions about prop­erty, in­vest­ments and cash man­age­ment and I have no doubt but that my pas­sion for all things fi­nance stems from their in­flu­ence,” says Paul.

Hav­ing re­alised that he made a bad CAO de­ci­sion in choos­ing to en­rol in a course in elec­tronic en­gi­neer­ing, Paul de­cided to leave shortly after start­ing the course, opt­ing in­stead to take a job with gen­eral in­sur­ance firm RSA. Al­though he en­joyed the job, a friend con­vinced him that there were bet­ter prospects in the life as­sur­ance sec­tor.

Al­though ac­cepted for an in­ter­view with Ir­ish Life, he soon re­alised that he could not join their mo­bile team be­cause he was too young for their fleet car in­sur­ance at the time. Rather than give up, he took a job in sales with Camp­bell Soups and two years later, com­plete with car in­sur­ance and ad­di­tional sales ex­pe­ri­ence, he joined Ir­ish Life as a fi­nan­cial plan­ner. Work­ing full-time and study­ing in the evening, he later qual­i­fied as a

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