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Dear Rob & Roderic…

Our resident agony uncles and The Ideas Lab directors Rob Reid and Roderic Rennison answer adviser questions

Q. VAT

Press comment over the last month and a number of recent publications from the providers seem to indicate that VAT is no longer an issue for most IFAs. Do you agree?

In our humble opinion, until we see a definitive VAT note on the topic of what is exempt and what is not, we would leave the champagne on ice. In any event, the move to ’intent’ from ’predominates’ simply fogs the issue. After all, no selfrespecting planner starts with a solution in mind, Indeed, this may well be the defining point people will tend to associate professionals with the liability to VAT. It may be a cliché but the devil will be in the detail. I agree. Some actual examples are what is needed rather than more text, which may be open to half a dozen permutations. Also, the tax tail should be not wagging the financial planning dog.

Q. Clients

Prospecting is not a problem and in many ways we always seem to have more enquiries than we could reasonably expect. In half or more of these meetings, the people simply do not fit our profile and we cannot be sure we would add any value. In other words, they are the wrong type of clients. What should we be thinking about to make us more effective in this area?

Filtration is one of the techniques that is used to purify liquids and it can be deployed equally effectively to purify enquires. What does your website say about typical client profile? Can your staff, front and back-office, describe the ideal client?

Have a gatekeeper and empower them to determine if they fit before you even meet them. Time is money and if your initial meeting is free, you need to make sure it is with the right kind of people.

Q. Recruitment

We want to boost our turnover and are minded to hire another three advisers. One is at diploma level and the other two are studying and at varying stages. What do you think?

Recruitment should never come before efficiency. Instead of rushing to hire another adviser, stop and consider whether the current set up is operating at maximum efficiency. It might be more sensible and profitable to increase the level of support for your current advisers by expanding the back office, thereby enabling the advisers to increase their time with clients.

Try doing this by using processes to ensure that they don’t get involved in the admin. Using timesheets to identify who spends their time doing what would be a good place to start.

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