Dennis Hall: Don’t be scared to share best practice

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Do you remember when you would do tests at school there was always that kid who would circle an arm around their answer paper to prevent anyone from copying? Perhaps it was you? I have not seen that sort of behaviour for more than 40 years but something happened recently to cause the image to pop back into my head.

I had heard about a breakfast network meeting that catered (excuse the pun) for professionals in the part of Exeter I have recently opened an office. It even had its own website, where all businesses in the area were invited to join. So I emailed my request. Almost immediately I got a reply saying IFAs were not allowed to join.

I then discovered this breakfast club was organised jointly by a local accountancy firm and an IFA, whose policy was to bar all other accountants and IFAs. Fair enough, I thought. But surely a bit short sighted and even counter-productive? Let me explain.

I had already made contact with a couple of local firms in relation to some work I needed doing. In one case, I wanted some specific advice about a share option scheme and Phil Billingham kindly shared the name of a solicitor contact he had in the area.

The work needed additional input from an accountant, so the solicitor referred someone he recommended locally. But while the solicitor was a member of the breakfast club, the accountant he referred was not. So much for the breakfast club. Strike one.

My reason for joining was to quickly discover who was who locally. I have made no secret of the fact that, while opening a new office in Exeter, I am not looking for clients. Not yet at least. But I do want to find good professional connections in the area so that I can pass work on. And that includes local IFAs.

I occasionally receive new enquiries that are not the right fit and rather than saying I cannot help I like to try to point them in the direction of someone who can. At least one local IFA has not made the cut. Strike two.

I have often found financial services to be one of the most sharing professions. I have attended countless events where a practitioner presents and shares the things that have worked, or not worked, for them. It is a profession where you can pick up the phone and ask for someone’s advice, knowing you will get a truthful and candid answer.

Personally, I have found that the more successful the person, the more they are willing to share. The less successful are busy putting up barriers. Strike three?

Remember that kid; the one who wrapped his arm around his answer paper? I do. I am not sure what I was protecting back then but I reckon it cost me more than I gained. If we believe we live in an abundance society we probably do. And if we do not believe it… well, we probably do not. I just thought I would share that with you.

Dennis Hall is managing director of Yellowtail Financial Planning