Yes yes, when have you ever, in your life heard a Financial Adviser be referred to as a Knight in Shining Armour? “Never!” I hear you say (unless maybe you’re the partner of an Adviser). Well I would like to change this; I would like to hear some positive stories about the great things Financial Advisers have done and continue to do for their clients.
The doom and gloom surrounding the Financial Services industry at the moment is quite simply, depressing. The FCA this, and RDR that, come on people where are the positive stories? Who is taking the recent regulatory changes and embracing them?
My career originally started in property, estate agency to be more precise. Oh dear have I put my foot in it? I think estate agents have an even worse reputation than Financial Advisers, or maybe not? Anyway, I never let anyone tar me with that same brush. Yes there were estate agencies out there that overvalue properties just to win a vendors business, then call them four weeks later asking them to reduce the price because they haven’t had a sniff from any potential buyers. And of course the ones who don’t understand what customer service is, how to advertise and entice buyers, how to return someone’s phone call, how to keep vendors informed with feedback of their properties progress so they don’t go anywhere else! But I was different. I wanted every single one of my clients (vendor or buyer), to walk away with a positive attitude not only to me, my branch, and the staff, but also to estate agency itself. That was my goal and my driver that was always in the back of my mind with every single service and process I put into place. I can quite honestly say I achieved exactly what I set out to do and I’ve had the flowers, chocolates, cards, and testimonials to back that up (available on request).
So what’s the point of my story? When the property market crashed I was unfortunately made redundant from the job I adored, I had no idea what industry I would next step into that would give me the same job satisfaction. Through a good friend of mine I was put in touch with a Financial Practice, a large and successful firm that was part of one of the UK’s top Wealth Management companies, and I was offered the role of Practice Manager. To be honest I thought this would just be a stepping stone, until I finally found something back in property when / if the market returned, little did I know that this move would end up being the spark to the creation of my business.
I like so many others had heard about Financial Advisers, and I had my own perception as to what their job role entailed and it included lots of Golf (I wasn’t far wrong about that). I was thrown in at the deep end, and had to get to grips with the way things worked quickly. My role was to manage the practice and its staff, business development, marketing, processing business, dealing with clients, and of course making lots of brews. I didn’t even know what an ISA was until that point, but I learnt. I learnt about the products, the advice, the clients, their circumstances, and the benefits as to why so many people chose to enlist the help of Financial Advisers. Because they are specialists at what they do and they understand the minefield that is, Investments.
I soon realised that all my previous experience, processes, customer service and goals could be replicated in my new role and in this industry. So I began to implement the same structure, I wanted all our clients to have a positive attitude towards the advice and the service they received not only from our practice but also to the benefits of Financial Advice.
So how did I do it? With Estate Agency you only get one chance, people on average sell / buy a home three times in their lifetime, so I only really got one change to change their opinion. Financial Advice is ongoing, you will hopefully service your clients and their families throughout their lives, so developing trust and loyalty is key to retaining and attracting clients. It’s all about service, true, real, and perceived service
Just to name a few changes I helped the Advisers to segment their clients, so we could gain a structure to the levels of service we provided and to whom, their asset values were not the deciding factor for this, there were many different considerations. I gave each admin employee a list of clients for them to own and manage, so they could get to know the clients on first name terms to add a more personal touch, they would have to speak with the clients a minimum of once every three months and make notes on their conversations. I introduced referral schemes and incentives for clients, we structured client review meetings and mailings, and we managed the Advisers diaries closer booking in coffee calls with clients if and when they were in their local areas.
I believe the principals of the RDR are right, I have seen some terrible Financial Advisers whom I feel would be much better suited to car sales, once they’ve got your money and you’ve driven off the forecourt you rarely hear from them, even if there’s a problem. But I have also met some fantastic Advisers, who would never have put clients in products or funds for commission purposes and are always there to service their needs.
The Financial Advisers that will survive and thrive in this new world are those that have grasped the need to change their frame of mind, this is no longer about quick investments and where the next buck is going to come from. It is about being paid by all your clients for the on going service you provide, building your monthly income based on your client proposition and demonstrating your worth. This strategy will ensure your clients remain with you for years to come, even if Joe Bloggs Wealth down the road is charging cheaper fees, you will also attract new clients over and above the competition.
So I ask, what is your proposition? What do you offer that other Financial Advisers don’t? An annual review maybe? So does everyone else! Quarterly review documents? More paper for them to recycle! You need to think outside the box!
Are you a Knight in Shining Armour to your clients? I’d love to hear your stories, comments, client testimonials, and please do tell if you have been called someone’s Knight in Shining Armour.
If you would like to find out more about how I can help you improve your services, please feel free to contact me.
Warmest, Danielle Dacunha-Howarth, Prompt Capital Monitoring.