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Gunning for business

This week, I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to those friendly hordes of Spurs fans who so generously opened their hearts and wallets to us Gooners as we waited to enter the pantheon of the modern game that is White Hart Lane.

As we queued to file into the Park Lane end, my family made a total of £3.20 in coins that were thrown to us (surely not at us) by our rivals.

These funds were no doubt contributed to a celebratory drink or two after the game. We gathered a further £1.40 during the game but, sadly, nothing on the way out. So our financial rewards were very front-end loaded.

The day will live in my memory as the second time I witnessed us win the league at White Hart Lane. It also reminded me that, in the long run, it is consistent delivery of quality and not the odd burst of frantic, largely undirected effort that wins rewards.

Nowhere is this more true than in the creation and development of business relationships between financial advisers and their clients.

Advisers are being exhorted to focus their efforts on where “the big cheque” is. That clearly means the high-net-worth, mass-affluent and business markets – markets where value is attached to advice and where the people who value advice can afford to pay for it, however that payment is made.

As I have said before, if the financial adviser&#39s primary means of generating revenue is through implementing financial products, then, with diminished margins, there must be volume and minimised face-to-face activity.

Of course, if this is all an adviser does, one would question the appropriateness of the word adviser to describe that individual.

The value that a true adviser delivers is, of course, in the quality and appropriateness of the advice being given. The advice is the product.

The raw material needed to develop the ability to advise is knowledge, understanding and know-how. And that only comes from investing the time and effort necessary. In this context, the adviser&#39s intellectual balance sheet needs to be constantly enhanced by regular deposits of the time and effort needed to understand – and truly understand.

Making this investment means that short-term profit must be scarified but the alternative is that one&#39s know ledge store diminishes, as does one&#39s ability to advise and differentiate. Once this happens, your competitive position becomes tenuous.

In a highly competitive market, differentiation is an essential pre-requisite to success. Knowing more and knowing quicker is something to strive for.

Through our Techlink and Techlearn systems, Technical Connection delivers online knowledge management, ideas, technical support, analysis, training, development and testing on the key business developments of relevance to advisers. By using the internet as our delivery method, we are able to cut the time between an event of relevance occurring and our reporting and analysis of it. We also substantially diminish delivery cost. In other words, we secure scale on intellect.

We take timely and relevant communication with our key clients seriously. Successful financial advisers no doubt do the same.

There is no shortage of events occurring on which communication, incorporating the “so what?” principle, would be highly valued and directly or indirectly business-generative. The point of relevant and immediate communication is that it can have real value and be seriously relationship enhancing.

Not only that but, with a properly segmented client base, you can secure scale on the intellect that is the catalyst for the communication.

It is highly unlikely that a message or analysis created by a financial adviser will have relevance to only a single client. Messages, like products and strategies, will be relevant for particular categories of client. The more clients in a category, the greater the potential scale on intellect that can be secured.

The achievement of scale through this process of mass customisation does not, however, diminish the value of what may quite reasonably be perceived as a one-to-one communication.

Working out the client segments who should be informed and advised on pension simplification, the impact of the minimum rate of corporation tax on non-corporate distributions, the change to the CGT annual exemption and the Inland Revenue view of the application of the pre-owned assets income tax charge to insurance-based inheritance tax schemes (to name but a few topics) should not be hard.

If the message is relevant and your clients hear it first from you and then continue to hear relevant messages first from you, with guidance on what to do about them, you will undoubtedly benefit from a gradual strengthening of your relationship and flow of business and fees.

Keep on performing and consistently delivering quality and you will get your rewards. Ask Thierry. Ask Patrick. Ask Robert. Ask Sol. Ask Ashley. Ask Kolo. Ask Ralph. Ask Edu. Ask Freddie. Ask Gilberto. Ask Dennis. Ask Arsene. And if you want to go off the rails, just sometimes, but in a loveable if infuriating way …. Ask Jens.


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