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Defining moment

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Julie Hepworth Group regulatory manager Perspective Financial Group

Last month, I wrote about putting in place a consistent advice process as we move towards RDR. Not only will it help your advisers throughout the business, it will also ensure that clients can always expect a high-quality, consistent level of advice regardless from which of the firm’s advisers they seek advice, not forgetting the efficiencies and professional improvement it will bring.

Deciding on the process can be time and resource-intensive, however, once this has been achieved, the time will come to roll it out to all staff members and to ensure it is fully implemented across all levels of the firm. With this achieved, you will now be well placed to take on the next RDR-related challenge, namely defining what your client proposition is going to be and how it is going to be delivered.

Unsurprisingly, there is more to creating a proposition than merely documenting how you are going to justify charging an ongoing fee. For example, do your clients know what you do for them? This may sound like an obvious question but if you were to ask 10 of your “best clients” to explain what work goes into preparing a recommendation, how many of them would know?

The chances are on asking this question, you might not like the answers you receive and therefore now is the time to address this potential misunderstanding/confusion.

In order to do this effectively, it is essential that you communicate your value at every opportunity by creating a compelling proposition. A good starting point is to document exactly what you do from the point when you meet a client through to implementing your recommendations and beyond

Next is what we can define as your “people plan” or, in other words, having the right people in the right place to support the delivery of your proposition. It is all too easy to fall into the trap of rolling out a proposition that you then realise is too difficult to deliver because you have not got adequate or appropriate backoffice support.

So, what resource do you need to have in place and what members of staff can make the transition that much more easy and profitable? Well, as the RDR shift from selling products to selling service and advice is made, the support of a well-qualified, experienced paraplanner will be invaluable. Good paraplanners can be worth their weight in gold as they help boost adviser productivity across the board by supporting the initial and ongoing advice process.

You will also need someone to undertake the role of proactive organiser to ensure that both advisers and clients are reminded about their reviews in plenty of time. Adding these roles to your business may not need you to recruit extensively. Instead, you may find that you have people in your business that aspire to these vital support responsibilities so it can also create both opportunity and interest. Even if you do not feel the need to recruit or add further staff resource to the business, this process can also be a good opportunity to refresh the job descriptions of existing staff in order to provide fresh focus on the new objectives.

The RDR may well change the responsibilities, targets, etc, of some members of staff and you can get ahead of the game by doing this now, remembering to embed regular goal setting and staff appraisals to measure both effectiveness and progress.

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