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Correspondent&#39s week

Changing jobs can be likened to the same turmoil that you go through when you change school as a child. For any of you that have ever started at a new school on the first day of term not knowing a single soul, you will know how I feel. Of course, as a child, you tend not to reflect upon the amount of time in a week spent at school. At work, however, it is fairly straightforward to clock up in excess of 2,500 working hours in a year. I was with my previous employer for six years. That works out to around 13,500 hours. But the slate is clean, it is hour one, day one of my new role.

The first stage needs to be to conduct a thorough fact-find, as I would with any client. What are the key issues for the individuals I am working with? What are the key issues for the company within the current market place? What are the best ways that you can go about achieving development of the business? What are the kind of clients my new employer has? Basically, what else I can possibly do to delay any potential chance for more AFPC revision?

What better way to truly understand the issues within the business, the processes, the skill sets, the development needs, the attitudes of the people that work for the company, than actually watch one of the consultants in action? To this end, I sat in on a client meeting – my very first at A&B.

It was a good meeting, well structured, great rapport between the client and the consultant, thorough, comprehensive and enjoyable to watch. The client was self-employed and, among other needs, had an obvious need for PHI.

The consultant, being diligent, raised the issue, asking: “How would you maintain your income and standard of living in the event of you being unable to work for a long period due to sickness?”

She sat back in her chair, thinking about this. Her response left both the consultant and I dumbstruck. “Well,” she said, “if I do get hit by a bus, it will just be my bad karma ripening, which has to be a good thing.”

I have heard a few responses from clients justifying to themselves why they do not need any protection. The ripening of bad karma was new one on me. How on earth do you “Apac” that kind of response?

On the train on the way home, I was reminded of another experience when I was the consultant sitting across the table from the client. The client was a Rastafarian woman buying a property for the first time.

She thought that PHI would be a good thing for her to have. She began to complete the application form, where, of course, I had asked her to be completely honest with her answers, especially when completing the medical questionnaire.

She stopped, put down her pen looked at me and said in response to the question, “Are you taking drugs other than for medicinal purposes?”, “Ian, do you spell cannabis with a c or a k?”

A combination of these two experiences made me reflect on what it is we are here to do in our industry.

In conversations with my new colleagues at A&B, whilst trying to ascertain what their motivators and objectives were, the majority were not looking inwards in terms of financial rewards, career progression, peer recognition, etc but were genuinely concerned about the needs of their client.

I have learned very quickly during my “fact-finding” that this company has a genuine passion for doing what is best for the client.

If we were more like that as an industry perhaps there would not be a need to review the concept of polarisation. Without wishing to sound too idealistic, it is refreshing to work with people who are into good karma – of course being spelt with a k.

Ian Howe is a director of Advisory &Brokerage Services

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