In our last diary, we discussed our plan to hold an investment seminar and we would use this event as part of our ongoing marketing strategy. We also mentioned the additional burden of implementing new computer systems.
Our seminar went really well. This was Plutus’s first seminar, so it was an opportunity for us to gain experience and, more importantly, to gather and learn from the feedback from our clients.
We handed out questionnaires at the end and collated the results. In general, clients said that they found it a good, passive way to gain information and the majority stated that they would like to see it as part of our service and, as a result, from next year, we will aim to hold them quarterly.
The seminar was investment focused and entitled, Every Cloud Has A Silver Lining. The theme running through the evening was addressing some of the uncertainty brought about by the credit crunch and the lessons to be learned and how some investments are now structured to take advantage of the current climate.
It was popular because clients were, naturally, worried and wanted to know what to do to move forward.We had speakers from a couple of providers. The only criticism was that some of it was a bit technical (so I think next time we will try to use fewer statistics) and our clients would have liked a longer Q&A session with each speaker.
Next time, we will have one less speaker, freeing up more time for client interaction with the speakers.
In future, we will look at doing different topics and try to keep them relevant. In the New Year, for example, we would do an end of tax year planning seminar.
We are also planning to do some workshops in the interim for smaller groups of people. We do not know whether it will work but we are willing to give it a try and learn from experience.
We now have a budget in place for our marketing strategy that will we hope help us build our brand. We have been taking some advice from people who have experience of marketing IFA brands.
We are keen to gain clients new to financial planning. Most IFAs concentrate on the highnet-worth end but we don’t want to focus exclusively on that area.
We want to be open for all and we want this to be reflected in our marketing and branding. There is an historic perception that you need to have a lot of money to use an IFA and we want to start to dispel that myth.
We are only able to start this marketing push because we largely have our back-office and IT infrastructure in place. It means that we are ready to start to shout about things.
We are also ready to roll out our back-office system and we are introducing our retained clients to their online access through our website. This will enable us to produce portfolio reports and for our clients to go online and get their own up to date valuations.
They will also be able to update their fact-find information. We have just finished the testing on what they will see and what they will be able to do.
However, we have had less success with solutions to the build-up of administrative work. We have had various interviews but are still looking. We have the budget but need someone highly skilled.
We have also been trying to pin down our “ideal client”. We have gone through the process of segmenting and classifying clients, which will help us to market ourselves more effectively. We have been tracking the traffic through the website – how many visitors we get, what they are searching for.
One thing we have realised is that many people would like to take a more relaxed view of advice.
It may be difficult for them to get in touch during the day and they will want to log in at a time that suits them. As part of this, we have realised that a few people would prefer an online relationship.
Although clients will be able to view their portfolios online shortly, at the moment, we do not have the facility for an entirely online relationship – our approach has always been face-to-face meetings.
It may be a bit soon for us to set up this sort of online-only facility but we think there is a need for something that is halfway between a fund supermarket and a full face-to-face relationship. It is something that we will look into.
Elsewhere, we have got our next set of exams at the end of October and will be taking Rod’s advice to review everyone’s exam status every three months rather than every six months.