Last year, Ingenious ran an educational webinar when we revealed the ‘Six Golden Rules‘ which, in our view, one could apply when selecting the most appropriate unlisted Business Relief (BR) services for clients looking to conduct some proactive estate planning.
Since then, we have fielded many questions as to the priority in which one should apply those rules. Now we deliberately didn’t seek to prioritise them, as when applied properly they all could reveal a factor or issue about any service that might mean they are assessed as more, or less, suitable for a client.
However, one should remember that if the goal of estate planning is to pass on the maximum of a client’s wealth to their chosen beneficiaries when they die, anything one can do to ensure that a client is able to protect their estate, grow their wealth and mitigate the potential effects of IHT are what counts towards this goal.
However, in the same vein it is also possible to identify ‘Six Potential Oversights‘ anyone could make which might pose a risk to their advice, their clients’ outcomes, the beneficiaries’ wishes and ultimately retaining their business.
At a recent webinar, we were told by the audience that the primary motive to undertake estate planning is to eliminate, or reduce, the potential IHT burden clients’ estates will be subject to on their death*. However, this could be missed if one focuses on solely the investment risk present in any potential solution, as the IHT efficacy may actually play a much larger role in the success or failure of the proposed financial planning strategy. For example, should a client be invested in a lower risk investment within a solution which is only IHT effective after seven years and then the client dies after two, the advice has palpably failed the client. Bearing in mind the impact of IHT can mean a loss of 40% of the estate value, the result of not doing everything possible to eliminate IHT risk could be far greater that the assumed extra investment risk in doing so.
We all have a duty to understand the investments we recommend to our clients. As a result, many choose to utilise independent due-diligence to give them an easy snap-shot across the whole market to assist them in comparing rival managers’ services. However, this broad picture cannot be relied on in isolation and to provide the most robust process advisers should overlay their own judgement, having accessed all the relevant facts on these services. See our Six Golden Rules.
It is noticeable that the fee models for a lot of unlisted investment services can be confusing and hard to assess and compare. However, it is vital to fully understand not just the magnitude of any investment costs, but how this may impact the performance of the service and what it may imply about the level of risk the manager is taking.
Many managers make a big issue of the fact they may only charge a modest annual management charge (AMC) if a set “hurdle” target is achieved over the life of the investment. What appears even better, is that they also suggest they will defer the taking of this annual charge until that exit point. In these cases it is highly likely the manager is also charging another annual fixed “service” fee which typically is greater than the other quoted AMC, and it is not contingent on any performance target and will be taken annually rather than deferred.
Lastly, understanding the full cost burden of any service can be a good indicator as to the level of risk being taken by the manager. Basically, to make a net positive return a manager must take greater risk for every percentage of fees they take to earn those fees back.
Not all unlisted BR services are valued the same way. Many services are valued and audited in order to calculate their Net Asset Value (NAV) but some then declare a separate, and floating, share price which may not match the audited NAV. If this is the case, and the share price is higher than the NAV, any incoming clients are buying shares at more than their “break-up” value which exposes them to the risk that should the trading company cease trading or needs to be broken up, they may only get back less than they invested and indeed thought that they owned.
Many investors value the concept of instant or fast liquidity in an unlisted investment. Many believe a service that offer redemptions in 10 days is superior to one that offers redemptions in 30 or even 60 days. Some managers also tell them this. But what if maintaining that liquidity impacted the level of funds actually deployed on trading activity? What if that faster liquidity actually meant holding significant capital back to meet those requests, which inevitably has a negative impact on investment returns? Why would the beneficiaries care if it took 20 days more when probate is typically taking more than twelve months anyway? Surely, they would want to have selected the service with the best estate planning effect so they get the best value and absolute maximum of growth?
There can be a natural assumption that the biggest must be the best. But one should consider the impact AUM actually plays in the goal of effective estate planning. Does a larger office or more staff actually benefit investors? It’s our view that the previous metrics above are probably a far more accurate predictor of which managers and services offer the chance of achieving a better outcome to clients. So, deciding which metrics are the most relevant to the outcome clients are seeking is key to selection criteria.
As mentioned above these have been the key areas that seem to cause the most uncertainty and we believe we offer some answers but if have any more issues where you would like some clarity please contact us at email@example.com
*Ingenious/PFS Webinar – Six Golden Rules – Oct 2021
Over the last few decades a lot has changed in financial services, but one thing has remained the same: the difficulty experienced by many advisers in getting their clients to commit to estate planning.
There have been many articles detailing the continued rise in inheritance tax receipts, and as the continued freeze of nil rate bands drags more and more people into the IHT net, public awareness of IHT has never been greater. It is supposedly the one tax that nobody likes paying, so why do clients often shy away from doing something about estate planning?
Whilst every individual is different, and they all have their own reasons, these challenges often fall into three areas.
Starting the discussion – the challenge of discussing money and death with families
Whilst the pandemic has made people more aware of their mortality, acknowledging this and then being able to discuss it with their nearest and dearest is often difficult for many people. And that’s before the discussion turns to how their wealth may be distributed amongst beneficiaries. As a result discussions are often postponed for another day, but sometimes that can be too late.
As an independent expert in estate planning matters, a financial adviser is perfectly positioned to help families navigate these difficult discussions together in an objective, supportive and practical way. Whilst helping families find a way through intergenerational matters can be challenging, clients will frequently say that a weight has been lifted from their shoulders once they begin this process with a trusted adviser. It is extremely rewarding to see the impact that these discussions can have on clients and their families. Playing such a role can also help advisers develop broader relationships within the family which may ultimately assist them with the question of intergenerational transfers and retaining an advisory relationship with the next generation.
Engagement and actions – connecting with hearts and minds
Whilst obtaining client agreement to start the discussion is the beginning, being able to engage with different family members in a positive and supportive way requires a certain deftness of touch, without which good client intentions remain just that.
This is where the full range of an adviser’s skillset comes into its own. Advisers will generally feel very comfortable playing that independent and objective role in these discussions and advancing the logical outcomes of alternative outcomes. In addition, emotions surrounding the discussion will inevitably need to be managed so that family members all feel listened to and common ground can be established for without this last part, the family may not ultimately take any action or decisions may be delayed as consensus has not been reached. These can be difficult discussions for us all to have, especially if we put ourselves in the position of the people being advised but advisers can nevertheless play this role very successfully.
Finding the right solution – balancing control, certainty and performance
Fundamental to the successful outcome above is the answer to the question advisers will inevitably be asked: what do you suggest we do? Sometimes, clients simply don’t buy the recommended solution as it isn’t compelling enough and decisions are put off for another day. But without the right products and solutions, the financial plan may not fully deliver the outcome the client really needs, particularly if it involves an unacceptable compromise.
The objective of estate planning for most people is to provide the best possible legacy for their beneficiaries whilst allowing for their own life needs. At a high level this is simple. Plans must:
As we know, it is not easy to achieve that combination as some aspects conflict. Many people find gifting and trust planning unpalatable due to the lack of access to capital. More flexible trusts have been popular in the past, but many are put off by the length of time they take to be fully IHT effective. They have also become expensive as the chargeable lifetime transfer, periodic and exit charges may erode the intended benefit.
As a result, many advisers have turned increasingly towards the use of Business Relief-qualifying investments to meet their objectives as the risk of planning failure due to mortality is reduced to two years. This only reduces the risk of failure – it doesn’t remove it. Insurance solutions can be added to actually remove mortality risk and ensure the effects of IHT are mitigated whenever a client dies, as long as the premiums are paid. The challenge with that approach is that premiums can be significant, and may erode the value of the inheritance over time. Costs remain too high for many to contemplate going down this route.
Advisers therefore also need help from product providers in the form of innovation, to furnish them with more compelling solutions which encourage clients to take action.
It’s not hard to see why estate planning falls down the priority list when talking to clients. It’s not fun to talk about. For anyone. However, having the conversations about the emotional impacts for both them and their loved ones can really help ease clients’ fears, and move them toward a solid plan. And with new services on the market every day, advisers can start building plans that are more likely to achieve their clients’ goals.
Last July I wrote an article considering the potential impact of rising inflation on clients in later life (Later-life and estate planning in an inflationary environment – FTAdviser.com). At the time RPI was increasing at a rate of 1.7% per annum (1), with the OBR predicting a medium-term average of 3% pa. Well, as at 18 May it is now 11.1% per annum (1), and the highest it has been since January 1982 (12%) (1).
In my original article I referred to the 1970s and the last period of sustained high inflation, and how those that were starting out in adult life now find themselves in later life. I looked at the parallels and considered how those clients and their advisers might work together to address the effects of inflation on their later life and estate planning.
However, this new period of high inflation in which we now find ourselves is markedly different from the last, it is worse in many ways and in particular for those in later life. A perfect storm of rising costs and poor returns is hitting middle England, a group that is already being squeezed due to changes in age and gender related demographics and lifestyle. Before considering how advisers may be able to help them, let’s firstly consider the pressures they are under.
The Real Return Crisis
Whilst inflation has yet to hit the peaks of the 1970s and early ‘80s, as I have mentioned it is at its highest point in more than 30 years. That’s where the similarities end though. In May 1982 bank base rate was 13.13% (2), so savers were still seeing a real rate of return of 1.13% per annum. Contrast that with May 2022 where we have a bank base rate of 1.0% (2) and a real terms loss of 10.1% per annum. A swing in annual real rate of return of c.11.23% is huge
Savings and income are being eroded at an unprecedented rate at a time when most tax allowances and thresholds have been frozen, adding to the squeeze. But prices of goods and services increase at differing rates, the rise in the costs of essentials is disproportionately great and therefore is hitting those hardest who can least afford it.
1. RPI All Items: Percentage change over 12 months: Jan 1987=100 – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)
2. Bank Rate history and data | Bank of England Database
The Care Crisis
The cost of care provision is already eye-wateringly high, and will remain so despite the forthcoming care cap. However, it’s almost impossible to see how this won’t get worse still when you consider that the core costs of care provision are human resource, food and energy (heat) all of which will likely be at the higher end of the inflation basket.
Rising costs, paired with eroding savings mean that care provision could become even less affordable for many, and this will inevitably mean that many middle-aged workers will be forced to provide care for their elderly relatives whilst still working, and likely still providing a home for their children who are unable to get on the housing ladder.
This is already becoming a significant problem as 22.3% (3) of workers aged 50-59 are also providing care to others. This rises to 23.9% (3) for workers aged 60-69. If, as seems likely, this is happening because the costs of care are skyrocketing, then these numbers will only increase as costs continue to rise and inflation takes further hold.
Medical advancements mean that people are living longer (5), which we all hoped would be a good thing. Unfortunately, this is just adding fuel to the fire. Longer lives are not necessarily healthier ones. Recent statistics from the ONS show that, on average, males will spend 16.2yrs (6) of their lives in poor health, and females even longer at 19.4 years (6). Increased life expectancy simply increases the need for care provision, putting even more pressure on the care system, those working as well as caring and it becomes a vicious circle, people will increasingly need support whether that be financial or guidance.
3. Care homes and estimating the self-funding population, England – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)
4. Life expectancy in care homes, England and Wales – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)
5. Living longer – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)
6. Health state life expectancies, UK – Office for National Statistics (ons.gov.uk)
Perfect storm for the squeezed middle
The wealthy can frequently escape these crises relatively unscathed as they have sufficient resources and access to professional support and guidance. Those with little in savings or assets are also not likely to feel the full effects of these challenges as they are often supported by the state.
It is those in the middle who are most likely to feel the pain, and who will have to adapt the most by making changes and re-plan their finances. Those that had planned to leave their savings to their children may now find that they need to repurpose those funds to meet their own needs – not to mention possibly funding care for their own parents. This may lead to dipping into savings to meet costs which previously would have been covered by income.
Given all the challenges they face, there has never been a time when middle England has had a greater need for advice, and yet only the minority actually seek it, as evidenced by the UK Advice Gap Report by Open Money (7). Without advice, this group could be making mistakes that put them even further behind in meeting their financial goals.
7. UK Advice Gap Report 2021 | OpenMoney (open-money.co.uk)
What can the financial services industry do to help?
All stakeholders need to help increase the visibility of and access to advice. It is also incumbent upon all parties to be proactive and not to freeze in the face of this financial pandemic. There are some very specific things the financial industry can do to help clients achieve the best possible outcomes for themselves and their loved ones.
Product providers / investment managers
At Ingenious we are committed to helping advisers through education and support but also by developing innovative solutions which aim to deliver greater certainty and peace of mind for advisers and their clients
Never has there been a time when clients have needed their advisers more. Advisers have a vital role to play by making sure they understand the pressures their clients are facing, how those might change and what solutions are available to help them by staying on top of developments and working proactively with product providers to fully understand how they can support them now and into the future.
Ingenious is a specialist investment manager focused on the media, real estate, infrastructure and education sectors. To find out more about Ingenious and their flagship estate planning service IEP Apex visit www.theingeniousgroup.co.uk/iep-apex/
Ingenious backed Crimes of the Future from the legendary director David Cronenberg will hold its world premiere at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival. Starring Viggo Mortensen, Léa Seydoux and Kristen Stewart, the story is set in the not too distant future in a time when humankind has learned to alter their biological makeup – some naturally and some surgically.
In an interview with Deadline, asked about going back to Cannes following the controversy surrounding his 1996 film Crash, the director said “Well, I’m not nervous. I’m looking forward to it because you make a film to have people react to it. And, as usual — and I’ve said this many times — I’m not making a movie to shock people or assault them. I’m saying, “These are things I’ve noticed. These are ideas I’ve had. These are dreams that have troubled me. I’m showing them to you. You can interpret them as you wish. I just think you maybe would be interested in experiencing these things as I have experienced them.” That’s my approach, and you get a huge variety of responses. “
Cronenberg has been an inspiration to filmmakers and audiences worldwide with films such as The Fly, A History of Violence and Eastern Promises. Crimes of the Future will be released in France following its Cannes premiere and in June in the United States.
According to a survey conducted by Ingenious last year* the single most important factor that motivates financial planners and wealth managers to recommend a Business Relief (BR) qualifying service to clients is the speed of IHT efficacy. BR investments should be fully IHT-exempt after just 2 years, rather than the 7 years of a Potentially Exempt Transfer (PET).
This feature makes BR-based investments attractive to clients looking for proactive estate planning solutions that allow them to retain both access and control of those assets, and even more so for those clients who may be concerned about their longevity. As clients frequently make estate planning decisions in later life, it is also likely that more clients will live for two years following an investment decision than for seven.
These drivers have led BR-based investment services to such popularity that now well over £1.5Bn per annum is invested into these solutions**. As a result, a wide variety of fund managers’ services have proliferated to support demand.
However, independent research into these solutions has so far understandably tended to focus on just one of the two major elements of a BR-based service: the underlying investment service and how that may impact a client’s outcome. Due to the common assumption that all BR-based services will produce full IHT efficacy after the same 2-year holding period, the other element, the actual estate planning impact of these services, has been largely ignored.
However, even if a “2-year plan” does have a better chance of success than a “7-year plan”, the 2-year wait may itself still be taking a significant risk with your clients’ outcomes. And should the clients
’ die inside that two-year window, their desired outcomes simply aren’t being achieved when their beneficiaries are being hit with a significant IHT bill after their death. And much as we don’t want to face it, we all run the risk of dying within the next two years, regardless of our age or current health status.
So, what can be done to mitigate this clear risk and ensure we deliver on the client’s outcomes as intended?
For the last five years or more there have been some BR-based services that set up a 2-year life insurance policy alongside the investment service to cover the specific risk of the client dying within those first 2 years. If an investor dies, the life policy will typically pay out 40% of the amount invested into the service, neatly covering the IHT liability and making the investment IHT-effective from day one. However, with these services the client must pay extra fees to cover the costs of the insurance. So, whilst this helps negate the financial impact of mortality within the first 2 years, it will compromise the investment return and therefore the final value that will be passed on to the chosen beneficiaries.
This poses a dilemma to advisers and their clients. If they decide to protect themselves from the impact of IHT if they die within 2 years, they will likely compromise the return they can pass to the beneficiaries; but if they don’t pay for the life cover, they run the risk of IHT fundamentally impacting their loved ones. As a result, many decide to take the gamble and not purchase the cover.
By contrast, a BR-based service that includes life insurance as standard at no extra cost to the investor could deliver this immediate IHT efficacy without compromising on cost or investment performance – an obvious choice for investors and advisers alike.
This kind of service has never before been available on the market – until now. IEP Apex, launched in March, combines Ingenious’ proven investment strategies with life insurance at no extra cost to eligible investors. IEP Apex will ensure that in those cases where investors die within the first 2 years and therefore fail to make Business Relief status, their investment will have grown in line with the performance of the Ingenious IEP services and it will settle the IHT liability via the insurance cover, thus preserving the ultimate value of the investment. Equally, those investors who see out the initial 2-year period will be no worse off as they won’t have paid for insurance thereby protecting their investment returns.
For investors and advisers alike, IEP Apex offers a unique and reassuring way of meeting their estate planning goals immediately in one simple service via accelerated day one IHT cover (post share allotment) without having to incur expensive insurance that hits investment returns.
*Based on a webinar with 340 attendees
** TER – June 2021
Business Relief (BR) qualifying investments are very popular with advisers and investors as the investments are free of Inheritance Tax (IHT) liability after two years, much quicker than other estate planning solutions. Whilst this is appealing, an investor still has a two year wait for the investment to become BR-qualifying.
To address this problem, insurance cover has been available in the market for several years as an optional extra to protect against IHT liability during the two year qualifying period. A relatively small proportion of investors take up the option of paying for this protection, but many do not as the cost of the insurance significantly erodes investment returns. These investors prefer to wait the two years out and avoid the cost of insurance cover.
This is an understandable and typical reaction to a discretionary insurance purchase which we often make in our day to day lives if we feel the cost outweighs the risk. However, when the consequences of the event being insured can be significant, and life changing, we tend to think differently and happily put cover in place, such as home insurance. A BR investment is no different. Whilst an investor may not believe they are likely to die in the two year qualifying period, it might happen. Nothing is certain after all, other than death and taxes, the two things under the spotlight here! And, if the investor were to die in this two year qualifying period, the consequences for their beneficiaries would indeed be significant with 40% of their estate reduced via IHT, something which most people would want to avoid happening to their beneficiaries.
That’s why we developed IEP Apex, the only BR-qualifying investment with complimentary insurance cover as standard. IEP Apex gives investors and their beneficiaries peace of mind immediately following share allotment that any IHT arising in the first two years will be settled by the insurance policy, for no extra cost to the investor. No hard decisions, no trade-offs, just peace of mind from day one following share allotment.
Given the potential consequences, why would your clients wait two years for their investment to become BR-qualifying when they don’t have to?
How does it work?
The insurance policy is designed to settle the IHT liability arising in the two years post share allotment if the investor dies within this time. In year three, the investment should qualify for Business Relief as normal so it becomes IHT-exempt. It’s really that simple.
Why should you recommend it to your clients?
IEP Apex is a new type of BR-qualifying service. It is unique in that, to the best of our knowledge, no other BR-qualifying service provides complimentary insurance cover as standard to pay for the IHT liability arising if the investor dies in the first two years post investment. The insurance cover is integrated as part of the investment service. It’s simple and straightforward – there are no examinations or complicated forms, no need to assess by how much the cost of adding insurance will erode performance. Just a simple health declaration as part of the easy application process, and investors’ IHT liabilities are covered in case the worst happens in the first two years post investment.
But that’s not all IEP Apex provides. Beyond peace of mind, IEP Apex offers investors:
The IEP Apex peace of mind
At any stage of life, IEP Apex protects investors and their beneficiaries from the consequences of their estates being reduced by 40% in the two year BR-qualifying period. Why should investors wait two years for their investments to qualify for BR when they can be covered immediately following share allotment?
IEP Apex has your clients covered, just in case.
Two Ingenious-backed films, both comedy-dramas and both based on real-life stories, have been enjoying critical and box office success in recent weeks.
The first, The Duke, starring Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren, tells the story of Kempton Bunton, a 60 year old self-educated taxi-driver, who in 1961 steals Goya’s portrait of the Duke of Wellington from the National Gallery in London in what might best be described as a philanthropic heist. Set partly in industrial Newcastle upon Tyne and partly in early ‘60s London, the film is already being cited as a comic masterpiece.
Jim Broadbent gives the performance of his life in a movie which, sadly, was the last feature film to be directed by the great Roger Michell, who died in September 2021. It was awarded five stars by The Guardian and the Daily Telegraph at its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival in 2020. The film’s theatrical release was delayed by Covid but has been a great hit with the public since it opened in February.
The second film, Phantom of the Open, directed by Craig Roberts, stars Mark Rylance as Maurice Flitcroft, an amateur golfer, dreamer and unrelenting optimist, who succeeded in gaining entry to the British Open Golf Championship Qualifying Competition in 1976 where he shot the worst round in Open history, infuriating the golfing establishment and becoming a folk hero in the process. Also starring Sally Hawkins and Rhys Ifans, the film is remarkable for Mark Rylance’s perfectly pitched performance as the defiantly hopeful amateur Flitcroft, a role which the actor plays straight to great comic effect.
Phantom was released in March in the UK and, like The Duke, is proving immensely popular. This is a relief for the whole industry. Over the last two years the pandemic has cast a large shadow over the theatrical box-office for film, with cinemas closed for long periods and audiences evidently reluctant to return other than for occasional super-hero Hollywood movies like The Batman and action-thriller blockbusters like the James Bond film No Time to Die.
But the tide is now turning, and it is high quality, quintessentially British films like The Duke and Phantom of the Open that are currently proving instrumental in attracting nervous audiences back to broader cinematic fare. Ingenious is delighted to have worked with long established partners the BFI, BBC Film, Pathe, eOne, Cornerstone, Baby Cow and Screen Yorkshire to bring these two films to the public. Both films will shortly be released in the United States by Sony Pictures Classics.
Ingenious today announces the launch of IEP Apex, a simple and cost-effective solution for any financial advisers and their clients looking to maximise the wealth they pass onto their beneficiaries. IEP Apex is designed to take a holistic approach to estate planning by providing a unique set of benefits as standard, including:
IEP Apex focuses on protecting capital via a lending strategy secured against high-quality assets with a low correlation to public markets. This strategy can reduce volatility in investment returns and aims to benefit from long-term growth ahead of inflation.
IEP Apex makes things simple for financial advisers and their clients by providing complimentary insurance cover from day one to settle any IHT liability arising during the two-year business relief qualifying period as well as providing access to a complimentary care advisory service.
While investment managers have historically always charged investors for insurance cover and peace of mind, Ingenious is proud to make both insurance cover and access to the care service available as standard, creating a new type of estate planning service.
IEP Apex will become the fifth service in the Ingenious Estate Planning family. All IEP services offer investors flexible access to their investment, subject to the terms of the investment agreement, as well as the benefits of the complimentary IEP Care Service. In June 2021, for the second year running, the services were ranked second most competitive in the market for cost over a five-year period, while the Private Real Estate strategy was also ranked number one for the second year running for overall return over a five-year period1.
IEP Apex operates an asset-backed lending strategy to reduce risk and protect investors’ capital while seeking to carefully deliver predictable long-term returns. An investment in IEP Apex can be expected to have a low correlation to public markets, an important consideration for diversification of an investment portfolio.
IEP Apex keeps things simple. Investors achieve immediate peace of mind by no longer having to wait two years for their investment to qualify for business relief, or longer with other strategies. If an investor were to die during the two-year qualifying period, their liability to IHT is settled via the insurance cover, providing peace of mind from day one – why should an investor take the risk of waiting two years for business relief when they can achieve the same effect immediately, on day one?
From year three onwards, the investment should qualify automatically for business relief, meaning that the investor should face no charge to IHT at any point post investment.
Investors automatically receive access to the complimentary IEP Care Service, an advisory service that enables them to plan both practically and financially for potential care needs before they become a reality. This feature also comes as standard as part of this new type of service.
Historically, investment managers have charged investors more money for additional services such as insurance cover and access to care advice. With the new IEP Apex service, financial advisers and their clients no longer need to decide between tax effectiveness or cost as IEP Apex provides complimentary insurance cover and access to complimentary care advice as part of the service.
Ingenious has many years’ experience establishing and monitoring business relief qualifying investments and to date every single investor has benefited from the business relief expected. In addition to Ingenious’ ongoing monitoring, all of our IEP services further benefit from an independent annual review to provide comfort that the service remains business relief compliant. Just another example of our unique service.
1Tax Efficient Review, June 2021. IEP Private Real Estate has been ranked number 1 for two years running for total returns over a five-year period.
2Tax Efficient Review, June 2021. The IEP services have been ranked number 2 for two years running for total cost over a five-year period.
On 23rd March it was announced that the NFTS Board of Governors had appointed Sophie Turner Laing, former CEO of Endemol Shine and MD of Sky, as its new incoming Chair. She becomes the School’s first female chair, succeeding Ingenious founder Patrick McKenna, who will step down at the end of his final term in August, having held the post since 2013.
The NFTS, which has some 600 students studying a wide variety of industry focused MA courses, Diplomas and Certificates covering the whole screen sector, from film and TV to animation and games, has regularly featured in The Hollywood Reporter’s annual ranking of the world’s top ten film schools. It has been described by The Guardian as the world’s best film school, reflecting the fact that the School’s graduates are invariably snapped up by industry on graduation, demonstrating the unique strength of the School’s distinctive teaching model, which is strongly influenced by commercial partners. These include the BBC, Channel 4, Sky, Disney and Amazon.
Patrick’s leadership of the School has been transformational. It has greatly expanded its educational footprint, with the opening of state-of-the-art equipped premises in Beaconsfield and new teaching facilities in Glasgow (NFTS Scotland), Leeds (NFTS Leeds) and Cardiff (NFTS Wales). The number of students taught has more than doubled, whilst the progressive change in the School’s gender and ethnic balance within the student body has set the standard for improving performance on diversity in recruitment.