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
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
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.