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Caroline Anstee

Some IFAs feel that making contact with lawyers and accountants is a waste

of time because they gain very little business for the effort it takes.

From my experience, nothing could be further from the truth. A structured

approach can lead to long-term relationships which benefit all parties.

Ask yourself who are you going to target? Small and medium-sized practices

are unlikely to have their own in-house specialists, especially after many

tried to offer financial services but found the compliance issues too

onerous and costly. A timely approach could be solving a problem for them.

How you go about approaching them needs careful consideration. Writing

letters, even with a follow-up phone call, has little effect as your letter

will be one of many. A face-to-face meeting will

be more successful.

Before an approach is made, consider carefully your unique selling point.

Are you the only woman IFA in the area? Do you have specialists in any

particular area within your company? The company I work for has an

insolvency/bankruptcy trustee department which can offer a tailor-made

solution.

Accountants and solicitors are the same as you and I – they eat, drink and

socialise, so get out there and network. Join the clubs that other

professionals join, such as Rotary, Lions, National Association of Ladies

Circles, Round Table, golf and sports clubs.

You will also find that most local chambers of commerce hold breakfasts or

lunches that can prove to be an invaluable source of contacts.

Once you have become a member, find out what other events members attend

and you will soon find a network circuit in which you can become involved.

Remember, this all takes time. The more you are seen, the greater your

profile. Make sure your contacts understand your role and see you as the

person to approach to solve their problems. Even if they use somebody

already, do not give up. Make sure your name is second in the frame

because, if their contact lets them down, they will turn to you.

From these meetings, find out their specialist areas and the financial

issues they have difficulty with. You will be surprised how little is

understood of financial legislation changes. Obviously, there would be

little point in discussing pensions in divorce with a personal injury

lawyer.

Consider holding local seminars to advise on such topics. Their office

would be a good location as then you are seen to be part of their team.

Do not forget the profile-raisers, such as good quality Christmas cards

and calendars. Could you write an article for their client newsletter?

Remember, business needs to flow both ways. Perhaps you can recommend them

to clients who need a will written or accounts prepared.

Always keep a record of the business you send their way and remind them of

this when you meet. Ask for business back. Once the introducer terms are

agreed, the relationship is usually cemented. But, like a marriage, you

will need to keep working at it or somebody else will move in.

The reason the exercise of relationship building is so important is that

all parties involved will benefit. The client benefits from having

specialist advisers in all areas. They put great trust in their accountants

and lawyers and, therefore, a referral they make is highly thought of. The

lawyer and accountant benefit from knowing that the financial advice given

is strictly regulated, which takes the onus off them. The IFA benefits as

the relationship will produce more profitable business now and in the

future. The IFA industry also gains as we are seen as a professional team.

Caroline Anstee is business development manager at Berry Birch & Noble

Financial Services.

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