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Systematic approach will yield results

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It is clear from your update that you have been busy but it is also evident that your activities have been both focused and have delivered tangible results and improvements. Importantly, you have a business plan this places you in a minority of intermediaries (fewer than 25 per cent of the firms we meet have one) and even fewer review it regularly.

Having a business plan and using it as a tool to improve your firm is a key way to ensure that a firm is effectively managed and builds value.

Your approach to recruitment has evidently been systematic and you have aligned remuneration to positive behaviours in relation to examinations which is good practice. It is equally important to ensure that remuneration is directly linked to the quality of business transacted and this is a part of an effective TCF regime.

Your objective of ensuring that clients are clients of the firm not one particular adviser is important, not only to deliver good client relationships but also in building value.

In addition to being introduced to more than one adviser, paraplanners and other support staff should also be involved in all client relationships so that there are multiple “touch points” and there is an efficient use of resources.

Having an attractive website is important and seeking views from clients is one effective way to ensure that its content is relevant.

I am interested in your comments on building an in-house platform. The evident “plus” is that you are able to build functionality specific to your firm’s needs. Conversely, maintaining an in-house capability can be an expensive and open-ended liability you use the words “…needs constant development and building…” and it is likely to pay dividends to periodically explore and compare what is available externally. One way to achieve this is to seek input from an independent technology specialist someone who is not connected to any specific platform. There are occasions when external validation is needed and this may be one of them.

Moving to fees takes time and effort and your comments confirm the experience of most intermediaries that have moved to fees, namely that there is transparency and clarity. In addition, and very importantly, cross subsidy between clients is reduced as profitability will increase.

Client acquisition is an area in which many intermediary firms do not have a specific strategy. Instead, it often “just happens” as a result of individual adviser efforts that are not always co-ordinated with other advisers in the firm.

You have taken a considered and systematic approach and referrals combined with channel marketing and seminars if used effectively and, importantly, if they are managed and monitored, as you are evidently doing, will yield significant results.

I look forward to reading your next update with interest.

Robert Reid, Director, The Ideas Lab

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