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It&#39s stake or break time

Most, if not all, IFA firms must now be considering their strategy for the

post-stakeholder world. There is a vast range of options from moving out of

pension advice altogether to actively embracing stakeholder and all it

implies.

If it makes good sense for the business to adopt a pro-stakeholder

approach, now is the time to be active, particularly with potential or

existing business clients.

One key advantage which stakeholder offers to IFAs is its compulsory

nature for all businesses with five or more employees. In terms of IFA

business, this is a huge opportunity. The employer cannot say no.

An adviser who approaches the company with an easy solution to this

imposed obligation is likely to be well received.

However, for the IFA, this poses something of a quandary. Because the

amount to be earned by way of normal commission on the introduction of a

stakeholder scheme is low, such individual approaches may not be

cost-effective. But to ignore these clients means that they must turn to

another source of advice if they are to meet their legal obligations.

One solution would be to hold an event for a number of clients so that the

background information is provided collectively. Of course, a further

advantage to such an approach is that it affords the perfect opportunity to

target potential as well as existing clients.

Ideally, a mix of both existing and potential clients would be in the

audience, since those who already know the firm can act as ambassadors for

it. An easy way to achieve this may be to invite existing clients to bring

along two or three people they know, who also run firms with employees and

who would find the subject matter of interest.

Local business groups, for example, the chamber of commerce, should also

be keen to learn more about the topic. They may be prepared to give access

to their mailing list for invitations to be sent or to insert a flyer or

notice in their own publication. Alternatively, they may wish to offer the

seminar as a membership benefit.

Finally, in terms of targeting attendees, it may be worth thinking of

hosting the event jointly with a local firm of solicitors or accountants,

ideally one that already acts as an introducer to the IFA firm. This should

help with the introducer relationship since it gives a benefit to their

clients, as well as allowing the IFA to present him or herself in a very

favourable light to the introducer and clients.

The size of audience to be aimed for can vary tremendously depending upon

practicalities, such as the facilities available. If you want to hold the

event at your own premises, the maximum may be, say, 20.

The style of the IFA firm will also influence the approach, as will the

temperament of the adviser. If you find the thought of standing up before

an audience of more than 20 people daunting, then it may be easier to run a

small event withthe audience around a table, with the feel more of a

discussion than a presentation.

Remember that the main reason for organising the event is to create extra

business for the firm. Hence, there will need to be enough people available

from the company to talk to each existing or potential client to arrange

follow-up discussions, etc. The smaller the IFA and the bigger the

audience, the moredifficult this is to achieve.

However, do not forget that, whatever size of audience you decide upon,

you will probably need to invite three or four times that number. It will

be useful to prepare an information pack which can be given to attendees

and sent on to those who do not turn up on the day. This could include

copies of slides used at the meeting and some information about the firm

itself, particularly of relevance for non-clients.

The content of the seminar or briefing should ideally cover:

An introduction to the IFA firm. Even for existing clients, this will be

of relevance since they may not be familiar with all the services offered

by the firm.

An explanation of stakehol-der. This should be relatively brief. Remember,

the audience is only interested in its effects on them rather than its

detailed implications.

The effect of stakeholder pensions on employers. This is where the focus

of the event should be.

An explanation should be given of precisely what the legal requirements

will be for employers and the implica- tions of these for different types

of firm, for example, those with or without existing pension arrangements

in place for their staff.

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