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Diary of an IFA in transition now the RDR is here

As part of our Adviser Evolution magazine aimed at helping advisers get ready for the RDR, we featured regular diaries of firms in the middle of their transition. Here one of the diarists, Georgina Partridge, partner at Plutus Wealth, gives an update on the firm’s progress now the RDR is in place.

Partridge-Georgina-Plutus-2013
Plutus Wealth Management co founder Georgina Partridge

Finally, 2013 landed and the RDR has arrived. What have we learned in getting to this point? From the perspective of a new company setting up in preparation for the RDR, a lot of our planning was trial and error.

On a positive note, we had no legacy issues, which could have made adapting to the RDR more difficult. At every stage, we have spoken to a lot of people and we have taken advice where we can.

We have always been willing to make changes based on their comments.

The process as a whole has been very useful. It has given us an opportunity to reflect on what changes we can make to our business and how to make it better. In general, we are happy with the way things are going.

We have engaged with the media a lot as part of the process. We wanted to ensure that we led conversations in the consumer press and played a role in restoring people’s faith in financial advisers.

We had some pieces in the Financial Mail on Sunday and Telegraph relatively recently and both generated a lot of interest from potential clients. This is a new project for us – to try and get in front of this consumer-facing media and so far so good – we have found it a useful exercise.

In building a media profile, I have done all the work myself so far, though we may look outside eventually. We work with Unbiased and on the Value of Advice campaign with Standard Life, both of which have helped build our profile.

I was really pleased to win the Value of Advice Ambassador from Unbiased at the start of this year. We got this largely for the work we had done in the consumer-facing media.

We want to educate consumers, promoting advice as a positive thing. We want to be approachable for real people, to put advice in plain English, helping to ensure people see the whole industry as more open and transparent.

We are still continuing our focus on a younger age group. We want to encourage the uptake of advice from an earlier age – the “accumulators”. These will be young City-based professionals that have got a good income and significant potential for an increase in those earnings. We want to compete in that market – it also reflects the sort of people we are and the stage of life we are at.

In order to appeal to that age group, we have for some time recognised that we would need a fully interactive online proposition. We based this view on research from JP Morgan, which looked at how consumers would take advice post-RDR.

As consumers find their feet, the key is to offer choice and flexibility. They also need control, they don’t want to be tied in – it is about offering flexible services with an ongoing service model. If you do a good job, they end up being a client for life.

The most important thing is to react to what customers are saying rather than the industry. Developing this proposition has proved hard-going, but we are working hard on it.

People are moving to a position where they research almost every product or service online. The same should be true with financial services.

We have bought some good ad words on a pay-per-click basis, subject to certain limits. It was an experiment, but we have found that it is working. We are getting good leads and traffic to our site.

The amount of clicks varies considerably and can be anything from three to 11 or 12 leads a week. It has proved to be a profitable step forward and we may expand on it over the next few months.

Overall, we have found this year that the RDR is not a line in the sand. It is constantly evolving. We believe that in 2013, as the RDR beds down, people will increasingly ask more questions of their financial advisers. This is likely to be an opportunity more than anything else.

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