Meet the team

First Financial was founded in 1997 by father and son, Michael and James Caplan.

Since then the firm has gone from strength to strength by delivering honest, impartial financial advice to an ever growing and dynamic customer base in and around London.

“Our people are our most valuable asset and a key reason behind our success to date. Each of our client teams shares our original vision to create a financial services business, dedicated to service and delivering industry leading results – something that we still stand by today.”

James Caplan, Managing Director

Michael Caplan

Chairman

Michael’s career spans almost 30 years, beginning at Laurentian Life.

Over the years he established himself as one of the company’s leading business writers, building a broad and varied bank of knowledge and experience in the industry.

He holds a Financial Planning Certificate, Mortgage Advice Qualification (MAQ) and is qualified to advise on lifetime mortgage products. In 1997 he formed First Financial, taking a holistic view of financial planning and specialising in providing his clients with mortgage, commercial funding and insurance advice.

Michael is dedicated to helping people achieve their financial ambitions – no job is too big or too small, no circumstances too difficult, no challenge too great. Michael spends most of his spare time focussing on his family, particularly his six grandchildren.

Michael Caplan

Chairman

Michael’s career spans almost 30 years, beginning at Laurentian Life.

Over the years he established himself as one of the company’s leading business writers, building a broad and varied bank of knowledge and experience in our industry.

Michael’s career spans almost 30 years, beginning at Laurentian Life.

Over the years he established himself as one of the company’s leading business writers, building a broad and varied bank of knowledge and experience in the industry.

He holds a Financial Planning Certificate, Mortgage Advice Qualification (MAQ) and is qualified to advise on lifetime mortgage products. In 1997 he formed First Financial, taking a holistic view of financial planning and specialising in providing his clients with mortgage, commercial funding and insurance advice.

Michael is dedicated to helping people achieve their financial ambitions – no job is too big or too small, no circumstances too difficult, no challenge too great. Michael spends most of his spare time focussing on his family, particularly his six grandchildren.

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James Caplan

Managing Director

James has put more than 20 years into First Financial with a breadth of experience that takes in residential and commercial finance as well as lifetime mortgages, insurance and critical illness cover.

He has been responsible for building the company’s professional introducers, which includes leading local estate agents, solicitors and accountants. He’s dedicated to getting results for clients but is equally motivated by developing team members and their careers, helping them to achieve their ambitions too.

In his spare time, James focusses on his family, cycling and is a coach on the McGuire programme helping others to overcome stammering.

James Caplan

Managing Director

James has put more than 20 years into First Financial with a breadth of experience that takes in residential and commercial finance as well as lifetime mortgages, insurance and critical illness cover.

He has been responsible for building the company’s professional introducers, which includes leading local estate agents, solicitors and accountants.

James has put more than 20 years into First Financial with a breadth of experience that takes in residential and commercial finance as well as lifetime mortgages, insurance and critical illness cover.

He has been responsible for building the company’s professional introducers, which includes leading local estate agents, solicitors and accountants. He’s dedicated to getting results for clients but is equally motivated by developing team members and their careers, helping them to achieve their ambitions too.

In his spare time, James focusses on his family, cycling and is a coach on the McGuire programme helping others to overcome stammering.

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Simon Ryder

Director

Simon has been a part of First Financial for over 11 years and was made Director in 2012. Prior to this he worked in the mortgage industry as a mortgage and protection adviser. For the past five years Simon has focussed on the expansion of the commercial funding side of the business, specialising in bridging finance, development finance and commercial loans, helping property professionals in arranging the finance they need.

Simon holds both CeMap and CeRER qualifications and continues to look after his private clients with the support of the team. Over the years he has formed strong relationships with many private banks, family offices and private equity to make sure First Financial can offer a solution to any client enquiry.

Outside of the office Simon has two young sons and enjoys golf and supporting Watford FC and more locally Kings Langley FC.

Simon Ryder

Director

Simon has been a part of First Financial for over 11 years and was made Director in 2012. Prior to this he worked in the mortgage industry as a mortgage and protection adviser. For the past five years Simon has focussed on the expansion of the commercial funding side of the business, specialising in bridging finance, development finance and commercial loans, helping property professionals in arranging the finance they need.

Simon has been a part of First Financial for over 11 years and was made Director in 2012. Prior to this he worked in the mortgage industry as a mortgage and protection adviser. For the past five years Simon has focussed on the expansion of the commercial funding side of the business, specialising in bridging finance, development finance and commercial loans, helping property professionals in arranging the finance they need.

Simon holds both CeMap and CeRER qualifications and continues to look after his private clients with the support of the team. Over the years he has formed strong relationships with many private banks, family offices and private equity to make sure First Financial can offer a solution to any client enquiry.

Outside of the office Simon has two young sons and enjoys golf and supporting Watford FC and more locally Kings Langley FC.

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Gavin Pearse

Director

Gavin joined us in 2014 as a Trainee Mortgage and Protection Adviser and became a fully-fledged one the same year. Prior to this, Gavin worked within the management team of Barclays Bank.

He advises on all aspects of finance. This includes residential, help to buy and buy-to-let in addition to commercial and bridging finance. Gavin also focuses on personal and business protection, predominantly dealing with our introducers, contractors and first-time buyers.

Outside of work, Gavin is a keen golfer and follows Plymouth Argyle up and down the country.

Gavin Pearse

Director

Gavin joined us in 2014 as a Trainee Mortgage and Protection Adviser and became a fully-fledged one the same year. Prior to this, Gavin worked within the management team of Barclays Bank.

He advises on all aspects of finance. This includes residential, help to buy and buy-to-let in addition to commercial and bridging finance. Gavin also focusses on personal and business protection, predominantly dealing with our introducers, contractors and first-time buyers.

Gavin joined us in 2014 as a Trainee Mortgage and Protection Adviser and became a fully-fledged one the same year. Prior to this, Gavin worked within the management team of Barclays Bank.

He advises on all aspects of finance. This includes residential, help to buy and buy-to-let in addition to commercial and bridging finance. Gavin also focuses on personal and business protection, predominantly dealing with our introducers, contractors and first-time buyers.

Outside of work, Gavin is a keen golfer and follows Plymouth Argyle up and down the country.

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Mark Hansard

Mortgage and Protection Adviser

Mark has been at First Financial for six years. He made the switch from a career in sport before acing the CeMAP qualification within his first 18 months and is also qualified in Equity Release. The sporting focus has never left him though – he knows all about dedication, hard work and achievement in a busy and demanding environment.

Mark’s motivation is about helping clients to get their dream homes. He’s focussed on finding the right option for each client, ranging from residential and buy-to-let mortgages all the way to first-time buyers and arranging bridging finance.

His ongoing work in protection allows him to help clients plan not only for that goal, but for the years that follow too. Mark keeps his clients up to date throughout the process putting them at ease with any questions they may have. When Mark is not at work he enjoys football and golf.

Mark Hansard

Mortgage and Protection Adviser

Mark has been at First Financial for six years. He made the switch from a career in sport before acing the CeMAP qualification within his first 18 months and is also qualified in Equity Release. The sporting focus has never left him though – he knows all about dedication, hard work and achievement in a busy and demanding environment.

Mark has been at First Financial for six years. He made the switch from a career in sport before acing the CeMAP qualification within his first 18 months and is also qualified in Equity Release. The sporting focus has never left him though – he knows all about dedication, hard work and achievement in a busy and demanding environment.

Mark’s motivation is about helping clients to get their dream homes. He’s focussed on finding the right option for each client, ranging from residential and buy-to-let mortgages all the way to first-time buyers and arranging bridging finance.

His ongoing work in protection allows him to help clients plan not only for that goal, but for the years that follow too. Mark keeps his clients up to date throughout the process putting them at ease with any questions they may have. When Mark is not at work he enjoys football and golf.

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Shaun Owens

Mortgage and Protection Adviser

Shaun joined us three years ago after leaving university and was a new starter in the finance industry. Shaun wanted to pursue a long-term career and work towards becoming a Financial Adviser, for which he obtained his CeMAP qualification within the first two years with us. Shaun is now a Mortgage and Protection Adviser working closely with Mark Hansard, focusing on reviewing existing clients’ mortgages and protection needs.

Shaun enjoys the human element of the job most of all. Meeting with new people, understanding their needs and ambitions and helping them achieve their goals, as well as ensuring they’re kept safe for the future, is what drives him to continue building his experience and knowledge. Shaun is a lover of sports, in particular football and in his spare time he enjoys spending quality time with his family and friends.

Shaun Owens

Mortgage and Protection Adviser

Shaun joined us three years ago after leaving university and was a new starter in the finance industry. Shaun wanted to pursue a long-term career and work towards becoming a Financial Adviser, for which he obtained his CeMAP qualification within the first two years with us. Shaun is now a Mortgage and Protection Adviser working closely with Mark Hansard, focusing on reviewing existing clients’ mortgages and protection needs.

Shaun joined us three years ago after leaving university and was a new starter in the finance industry. Shaun wanted to pursue a long-term career and work towards becoming a Financial Adviser, for which he obtained his CeMAP qualification within the first two years with us. Shaun is now a Mortgage and Protection Adviser working closely with Mark Hansard, focusing on reviewing existing clients’ mortgages and protection needs.

Shaun enjoys the human element of the job most of all. Meeting with new people, understanding their needs and ambitions and helping them achieve their goals, as well as ensuring they’re kept safe for the future, is what drives him to continue building his experience and knowledge. Shaun is a lover of sports, in particular football and in his spare time he enjoys spending quality time with his family and friends.

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Thomas Pratchett

Mortgage and Protection Adviser

Thomas is five years into his financial services career and has already put together a wealth of training and experience. He began as a mortgage processor before obtaining his CeMAP qualifications and setting his sights on becoming an adviser.

Like a lot of the team, he’s focussed on helping clients to achieve the best possible outcome. He’s keen to understand their ambitions, advise them at every step and help them find their dream home while expanding his own knowledge and understanding of our industry.

Thomas Pratchett

Mortgage and Protection Adviser

Thomas is five years into his financial services career and has already put together a wealth of training and experience. He began as a mortgage processor before obtaining his CeMAP qualifications and setting his sights on becoming an adviser.

Thomas is five years into his financial services career and has already put together a wealth of training and experience. He began as a mortgage processor before obtaining his CeMAP qualifications and setting his sights on becoming an adviser.

Like a lot of the team, he’s focussed on helping clients to achieve the best possible outcome. He’s keen to understand their ambitions, advise them at every step and help them find their dream home while expanding his own knowledge and understanding of our industry.

Read more +

Stephen Bourke

Mortgage and Protection Adviser

Stephen began his career in Financial Services in May 2018, having previously spent four years as a police officer. He joined the team at First Financial in February 2019 and began advising in early 2020.

Stephen is passionate about providing the best possible advice and takes pride in delivering excellent service to his clients. Whether this is assisting a first time buyer, a home mover, or somebody looking to provide protection for their family, he is driven by his desire to help others and is committed to enabling people to achieve their goals.

In his spare time, Stephen is a season ticket holder at Arsenal and enjoys playing golf with friends.

 

Stephen Bourke

Mortgage and Protection Adviser

Stephen began his career in Financial Services in May 2018, having previously spent four years as a police officer. He joined the team at First Financial in February 2019 and began advising in early 2020.

Stephen is passionate about providing the best possible advice and takes pride in delivering excellent service to his clients.

Stephen began his career in Financial Services in May 2018, having previously spent four years as a police officer. He joined the team at First Financial in February 2019 and began advising in early 2020.

Stephen is passionate about providing the best possible advice and takes pride in delivering excellent service to his clients. Whether this is assisting a first time buyer, a home mover, or somebody looking to provide protection for their family, he is driven by his desire to help others and is committed to enabling people to achieve their goals.

In his spare time, Stephen is a season ticket holder at Arsenal and enjoys playing golf with friends.

 

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Natasha Caranese

Mortgage and Life Administrator

Natasha joined us in 2017 as a Mortgage and Life Administrator and has since obtained her CeMAP 1 and CeMAP 2 qualifications. She’s working to become a Mortgage and Protection Adviser and enjoys the rewarding experience of helping clients at every step of the way.

Natasha’s goal for herself and for the company is to provide every client with an experienced, professional and respected service.

Natasha Caranese

Mortgage and Life Administrator

Natasha joined us in 2017 as a Mortgage and Life Administrator and has since obtained her CeMAP 1 and CeMAP 2 qualifications. She’s working to become a Mortgage and Protection Adviser and enjoys the rewarding experience of helping clients at every step of the way.

Natasha joined us in 2017 as a Mortgage and Life Administrator and has since obtained her CeMAP 1 and CeMAP 2 qualifications. She’s working to become a Mortgage and Protection Adviser and enjoys the rewarding experience of helping clients at every step of the way.

Natasha’s goal for herself and for the company is to provide every client with an experienced, professional and respected service.

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Shaunna Casey

Office Administrator

Shaunna joined us after deciding on a new career direction, heading into the finance industry. She picked First Financial because of our long history, but stayed because of our dedication to understanding and helping clients.

Her role is twofold, helping us to understand client needs but also making sure everything runs like clockwork from day to day.

Shaunna is focussed on progress within the company, learning the nuts and bolts of finance and going on to help clients achieve their ambitions.

Shaunna Casey

Office Administrator

Shaunna joined us after deciding on a new career direction, heading into the finance industry. She picked First Financial because of our long history, but stayed because of our dedication to understanding and helping clients.

Shaunna joined us after deciding on a new career direction, heading into the finance industry. She picked First Financial because of our long history, but stayed because of our dedication to understanding and helping clients.

Her role is twofold, helping us to understand client needs but also making sure everything runs like clockwork from day to day.

Shaunna is focussed on progress within the company, learning the nuts and bolts of finance and going on to help clients achieve their ambitions.

Read more +

Katie Badiani

Compliance Manager

Katie joined us in 2010 after obtaining her degree in Financial Services and two stints as a paraplanner for independent financial advisers. She’s now qualified to Financial Planning Certificate level and also holds her Mortgage Advice Qualification (MAQ).

Katie’s been with us for a while and she puts it down to the family feel and a relaxed, approachable atmosphere. Her experience with the firm is unique in that she first worked closely with clients, taking ownership of cases, but after a move within the company now works with other team members. It means she gets to see the whole picture, understanding complex processes intimately from both a client and business point of view.

Katie Badiani

Compliance Manager

Katie joined us in 2010 after obtaining her degree in Financial Services and two stints as a paraplanner for independent financial advisers. She’s now qualified to Financial Planning Certificate level and also holds her Mortgage Advice Qualification (MAQ).

Katie joined us in 2010 after obtaining her degree in Financial Services and two stints as a paraplanner for independent financial advisers. She’s now qualified to Financial Planning Certificate level and also holds her Mortgage Advice Qualification (MAQ).

Katie’s been with us for a while and she puts it down to the family feel and a relaxed, approachable atmosphere. Her experience with the firm is unique in that she first worked closely with clients, taking ownership of cases, but after a move within the company now works with other team members. It means she gets to see the whole picture, understanding complex processes intimately from both a client and business point of view.

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Tara Caplan

Medical Consultant

Tara has worked with the business since its inception, reviewing critical illness contracts in the market place as well as helping us to reach the best terms for clients with pre-existing conditions and assisting with claims.

She graduated from McGill University Medical School (Montreal, Canada) in 1999, before moving to London where she completed the General Practice Vocational Training Scheme at Barnet General Hospital in 2004. Over the last decade Tara has worked in both the NHS and private practice as a general practitioner, with a key interest in child health and palliative care.

Tara Caplan

Medical Consultant

Tara has worked with the business since its inception, reviewing critical illness contracts in the market place as well as helping us to reach the best terms for clients with pre-existing conditions and assisting with claims.

Tara has worked with the business since its inception, reviewing critical illness contracts in the market place as well as helping us to reach the best terms for clients with pre-existing conditions and assisting with claims.

She graduated from McGill University Medical School (Montreal, Canada) in 1999, before moving to London where she completed the General Practice Vocational Training Scheme at Barnet General Hospital in 2004. Over the last decade Tara has worked in both the NHS and private practice as a general practitioner, with a key interest in child health and palliative care.

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Matthew Dawes

Mortgage and Life Administrator

Matthew is an experienced mortgage professional who joined First Financial in December 2019. Having studied Neuroscience at Nottingham University, he decided to make a career move into Financial Services in 2015 and has passed CeMap 1, 2 and 3 as well as his RO7 exam.

In his spare time, Matt enjoys exploring the great outdoors and is also an avid gamer. These two things may seem incongruous, but he swears it works.

Matthew Dawes

Mortgage and Life Administrator

Matthew is an experienced mortgage professional who joined First Financial in December 2019. Having studied Neuroscience at Nottingham University, he decided to make a career move into Financial Services in 2015 and has passed CeMap 1, 2 and 3 as well as his RO7 exam.

Matthew is an experienced mortgage professional who joined First Financial in December 2019. Having studied Neuroscience at Nottingham University, he decided to make a career move into Financial Services in 2015 and has passed CeMap 1, 2 and 3 as well as his RO7 exam.

In his spare time, Matt enjoys exploring the great outdoors and is also an avid gamer. These two things may seem incongruous, but he swears it works.

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Ruth Williams

General Insurance Adviser

Ruth became part of the team at First Financial in June 2019 and immediately made her mark by setting up the Buildings and Contents Insurance offering. Ruth is Cert CI qualified and has worked in the Insurance industry for the past five years. She is also studying for her CeMap 1 qualification.

Outside of work Ruth is a keen traveller, and has travelled throughout the world. Her greatest travel achievement is that she has visited every continent – yes, even Antarctica!

Ruth Williams

General Insurance Adviser

Ruth became part of the team at First Financial in June 2019 and immediately made her mark by setting up the Buildings and Contents Insurance offering. Ruth is Cert CI qualified and has worked in the Insurance industry for the past five years. She is also studying for her CeMap 1 qualification.

Ruth became part of the team at First Financial in June 2019 and immediately made her mark by setting up the Buildings and Contents Insurance offering. Ruth is Cert CI qualified and has worked in the Insurance industry for the past five years. She is also studying for her CeMap 1 qualification.

Outside of work Ruth is a keen traveller, and has travelled throughout the world. Her greatest travel achievement is that she has visited every continent – yes, even Antarctica!

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Tom Perman

Mortgage and Life Administrator

Tom joined First Financial in August 2019. He chose to pursue a career in Financial Services, having completed his A Levels in Business, Psychology and Graphics. He is currently studying for his CeMap 1 qualification.
Tom has made an impact already. In his first few months he became a core value champion for being ‘Respectful’. He is very proud of this achievement. Tom aims to complete his qualifications and move on to be an adviser in the next few years.
Outside of work Tom enjoys playing football. He supports his local football team, Watford FC.

Tom Perman

Mortgage and Life Administrator

Tom Joined First Financial in August 2019, having just finished his A level studies in Business, Psychology and Graphics. He has chosen a career in Financial Services and is currently studying for his CeMap 1 qualification.

Tom joined First Financial in August 2019. He chose to pursue a career in Financial Services, having completed his A Levels in Business, Psychology and Graphics. He is currently studying for his CeMap 1 qualification.
Tom has made an impact already. In his first few months he became a core value champion for being ‘Respectful’. He is very proud of this achievement. Tom aims to complete his qualifications and move on to be an adviser in the next few years.
Outside of work Tom enjoys playing football. He supports his local football team, Watford FC.
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Jay Patel

Mortgage and Life Administrator

Jay joined First Financial in September 2019. He was looking for a new challenge, but more importantly for a company with great business ethics and opportunity. After his interview he was asked if he would like to join the team for half a day just to get a feel of the business. He joined the team officially the following Monday, and says that this is exactly where he wants to be.

Providing clients with the best possible service is one of our core values, and Jay embodies this through and through. His aim is to become a fully-fledged adviser at First Financial. He feels the opportunity is huge and that the company is growing from strength to strength.

Outside of work Jay is a massive hip hop and rap battle fan. He has attended events for this in both London and New York.

Jay Patel

Mortgage and Life Administrator

Jay joined First Financial in September 2019. He was looking for a new challenge, but more importantly for a company with great business ethics and opportunity. After his interview he was asked if he would like to join the team for half a day just to get a feel of the business. He joined the team officially the following Monday, and says that this is exactly where he wants to be.

Jay joined First Financial in September 2019. He was looking for a new challenge, but more importantly for a company with great business ethics and opportunity. After his interview he was asked if he would like to join the team for half a day just to get a feel of the business. He joined the team officially the following Monday, and says that this is exactly where he wants to be.

Providing clients with the best possible service is one of our core values, and Jay embodies this through and through. His aim is to become a fully-fledged adviser at First Financial. He feels the opportunity is huge and that the company is growing from strength to strength.

Outside of work Jay is a massive hip hop and rap battle fan. He has attended events for this in both London and New York.
Read more +