Meet the Portsmouth finance firm which really does have family at its heart
As Steve Blofield looks around his lovely Hayling home, he can hardly believe how his life has turned out.Â Â
From veryÂ humble beginnings in PaulsgroveÂ where he had to leave school at 15 to help pay off his mother's debts, Steve now runs a financial planning firm in picturesque Droxford which has protected more thanÂ Â Â£725m of clients' wealth.Â
Redwood Financial '“ named after the giantÂ trees which symbolise growth, maturity and stability '“ is a family business in the true sense.Â
At work Steve is surrounded by familyÂ including his wife Julie, who he started dating when he was just 13, his daughter, Jasmine, and his daughter-in-law.Â
His son Robert and son-in-law are both shareholders. All big decisions are run past the family.Â
Though 54-year-old Steve appears to have it all in January 2015 it all came to a head when '“ following years of working 90 hours aÂ week, he had a violent seizure during which he badly injured his back.Â It forced him toÂ take his foot off the accelerator.Â
He has now handed the management of the hugely successful firmÂ over to Jasmine, 30, and together theÂ family have set up a foundation to ensure society's most vulnerable get the financial advice they need to get back on their feet.Â
Steve explains:Â '˜Both of my kids are way more intelligent than me.
'˜Right from the ages of eight or nine we encouraged them to think independently and we'd debate what was happening in the world around the dinner table.Â
'˜We would never have pushed them into the business, it's been really important to us that the kids do their own thing.
'˜So when Jasmine said she wanted to join the family business we were over the moon.'
Aged just 19, Jasmine qualified as a financial planner '“Â her family believe one of the youngestÂ ever. She would work at Redwood in the day and study at night. Together with mum Julie she gainedÂ qualifications in all aspects of financial planning.Â And, at the tender ago of just 24, she became managing director.
SheÂ says: '˜It was about continuity for clients because dad is the first to admit he's not getting any younger.Â
'˜It was a natural progression for me. My dad had said I would always have a job at Redwood but if I was going to make a career of it I'd have to do it on merit. I had to work my way up from receptionist.
'˜And although I was young, it felt like it took me a long time because I've been here since I was 18.Â
'˜Become managing director was an honour but it also came with huge responsibility. I still feel that responsibility every day '“Â to our clients, their families and our team.Â
'˜Although four of us here are related, everyone hereÂ '“Â there are nine of us '“Â is part of the Redwood family.'
Steve was determined not to hand over the reigns without making JasmineÂ work for it.Â
'˜She had to work extra hard, and then some', laughs Steve. '˜I was 10 times tougher on her than anyone else.
'˜I left school without a qualification to my name. I was 15 andÂ I had to earn money to help my mum out.Â
'˜I grew up in a very poor environment. Thankfully my kids haven't had to. They have been very fortunate. To say they want to help people less fortunate than themselves is typical of them.Â Now I watch my son with my grandson and he teaches him exactly the same things and exactly the same values.'
Wife Julie has always been at Steve's side although she now looks after their grandson one day a week.Â With a huge grin,Â heÂ recounts the moment he knew Julie was the one for him.Â '˜We met aged 11 and we were friends for a couple of years.Â I knew she was the person I was going to be with for the rest of my life when I walked her home from the school disco one night.Â
'˜I ran to my best friend's house afterwards and told him she was the girl I was going to marry.Â
'˜Julie wasn't quite so convinced, it took her a couple of years!Â
'˜Life has its trials and tribulations but if you're 100 per cent committed you will make a success of it. Whether that's being a wife or a husband, father, or running a business.
'˜If you work hard you'll always find a way of getting over the challenges life throws at you.'
Do the Blofields ever get tired of working together?Â
Jasmine smiles:Â '˜We work together five days a week and then have Sunday roasts most weekends and go for walks in the forest.Â
'˜We're one of those really weird families who actually enjoy spending time with each other.'
Making a difference to vulnerable families
The Blofield family are passionate about helping others and spreading their good fortune through financial education.Â
Since the business started in 1999 staff have raised more than Â£45,000 for good causes.
In 2018 they created the RedwoodÂ Foundation, a not-for-profit group headed by members of the Redwood management team.
It will enable the company to have more control over where the funds they raise go.
Steve says: '˜When the kids were little we'd watch Children in Need and, without prompting, they'd ask if they could donate their pocket money. That is just what they're like.'
One of the aims is to give financial assistance grants to those unable to afford wills, lasting powers of attorney, andÂ basic estate planning.Â
The foundation will support projects that help preserve theÂ planet for future generations.Â
It will provide financial education to young and disadvantaged families to help end the wealth gap.Â
To do this they will give free workshops. The first is on January 21 at 6.30pm at Cosham Community Centre, Wotton Street and will be led by Steve Blofield.
To find out more, go toÂ redwoodfinancial.co.uk.Â