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John Joe McGinley: Is now the right time to become a farmer?

Don’t worry, this is not an article on the recent crisis in the food industry, this is driven by the news the FSA is to begin a thematic review into how advisers are disclosing the cost and nature of their advice services.

This highlights for me the key RDR challenge- the creation of a service culture where clients must know the initial and ongoing service they will receive and how much this will cost.

The RDR is about delivering a service clients are willing to pay for now and in the future.

There is a great quote from Henry Ford that resonates with me: ‘A business absolutely devoted to service will have only one worry about profits – they will be embarrassingly large.’

Success in any business is about delivering what the client wants, not just once but on an ongoing and consistent basis.

Do you have a service model in place that is built around your clients?

A key starting point is to know the answers to the following client questions:

  • How in-depth do you want our relationship to go? Is it purely transactional or do you wish me to be your primary adviser?
  • How often do you want to see me?
  • How do you want to interact with me, face to face, by telephone or using social media?
  • Who else do I involve in the advice relationship? Your family, solicitor, accountant?
  • How do you want to pay me for the advice?
  • Do you need an on-going service from me and if so what would you value from me?
  • How do you want me to demonstrate my value?
  • Do you value my service enough to recommend me to friends and family?

Our profession has created a generation of hunters always looking for the new opportunity to maximise revenues. Is this relevant now so much emphasis is on a tangible service provision?

In the world of the hunter sales person one-off sales are the norm. But isn’t it more attractive to your business for good clients to provide you with repeat business?

The obvious way to achieve this is to have an attractive proposition with a fair price and deliver excellent customer service.

We are all consumers. How much value do you place on customer service and how likely are you to tolerate a poor experience?

Loyalty is important but it is more than just excellent service at the point of advice. The secret to future success in any business is about creating a community of satisfied clients and maximising the opportunities your relationship with them provides.

How you create this is down to ensuring you know your clients. It is the logical extension of a skill every hunter processes, fact finding.

You need to consider:

  • What other financial products and services do they purchase?
  • What is their activity pattern with you?
  • Why do they use you as their adviser?
  • Who is their primary source of advice?
  • What social media do they use?
  • What interests do they have?
  • What are their key relationships?

As the RDR develops, we may see more and more business models moving away from hunting.

We may witness the age of the client farmer where the key business skill is communication. Great news for you and even better news for your clients.

John Joe McGinley is head of Aegon’s Business Brain

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