Hanover Wealth Management director on how client referrals make the world go round
A financial adviser is not the most obvious port of call for people when they need some work carried out on their home. But when Hanover Wealth Management’s clients need help, even with non-financial matters, they know they can turn to its director, Julie Roche.
Given that most of her business comes from referrals, being approachable with anything certainly pays off.
“Personal recommendations are very important to me. Over 90 per cent of my clients come from them,” she says.
“My clients know they can ring me about anything. They may ring to release money from an Isa for home improvements and ask whether I know anyone that can fit a kitchen because they know how many contacts I have.
“That could lead to them saying their son or friend needs some advice. It’s nice they are comfortable referring me.”Phil Wickenden: Have a clear strategy for referrals
Roche believes networking is an important part of any business. So, eight years ago, she joined Business Network International as a way of growing her company when she split with her business partner.
BNI is a global business referral organisation which works on a local basis.
Local networking groups are set up so that only one person from each trade or profession can join, avoiding situations where members compete for the same referrals. It works on the basis of “givers gain” – you refer clients to other BNI members in your group and they return the favour.
Roche says: “It has been a good way to build relationships with an accountant, solicitor and other referral partners.
“I would give a client’s contact details if they needed a service and that client would know someone was going to ring them.”
In fact, Roche now shares an office with a chartered accountant as a result, which she says has been great for generating business.
She has also found BNI’s professional development training to be invaluable.
“As a member, you have to be able to articulate what you do in 60 seconds. This is a skill I have now perfected.
“I had never spoken publicly before and now I would not hesitate to accept an opportunity to promote my business to a wide audience,” she says.
Those skills have enabled her to feel more confident holding auto-enrolment seminars and delivering pre-retirement sessions to the staff at multinational food manufacturer United Biscuits in Liverpool.
“Doing presentations became part of the job rather than something to be scared of,” she says.
Is adviser networking worth it?
Roche has now established a female BNI group for the North West, to inspire and encourage more women in business.
She says: “It’s about having a coffee and expressing ourselves, as women do business in a different way to men.
“I’ve made some good connections and I firmly believe there is a lot to be celebrated about being a female IFA.
“I feel positive about being a woman in a predominantly male environment. I certainly do not allow myself to be intimidated because of my gender.”
Indeed, from a client perspective, Roche sees being a woman as a “massive bonus”.
“Women generally excel at showing compassion and empathy, and this can be a real asset when it comes to certain roles within the industry.
“Clients find I have a certain empathy that comes more naturally than perhaps it would from some of my male counterparts.
“However, whatever industry you’re in, if you can demonstrate self-belief and confidence in your own ability, gender should not really become an issue.”
What is the best bit of advice you’ve received in your career?
It was given to me by my dad: the only failure is not to try.
What keeps you awake at night?
I am currently in the middle of a part demolition and extension at home, so I have plenty of sleepless nights at present.
What has had the most significant impact on financial advice in the last year?
The pension freedoms continue to have a substantial impact on my business.
If I was in charge of the FCA for a day I would…
Look for a less stressful job!
Any advice for new advisers?
Obtain thorough training from a company that is in a position to provide it and consider a business management qualification.
Roche started working in financial services in the early 1980s after studying business and finance at college.
She initially worked for the clearing bank Girobank in Liverpool but, after 10 years, became increasingly frustrated at having no chance of a customer-facing role, despite numerous promotions.
Desperate to stretch her wings, she took three months out to work in hospitality in Vancouver, where her brother lives, and then several years in South Africa.
“Upon my return to the UK, I secured a position at the Inland Revenue. This was once again a non-customer-facing role, so when I was subsequently introduced to a contact who offered to train me to become a mortgage adviser I jumped at the chance,” she says.
Blog: Young, female advisers have every chance of success
While working as a mortgage adviser, she took her exams to become a fully qualified IFA, before going into partnership with another adviser in 2008 to form Anson IFA.
She eventually struck out on her own with Hanover Wealth Management in 2011.
In terms of growth areas, Roche expects equity release to become a bigger part of the business in the future.
“It will become more relevant as people’s life plans change and the product itself advances.
“Some people are interested in equity release as they want to visit their children in places like Australia or New Zealand; their pension income pays the bills but it doesn’t stretch to that.
“Also, a lot of people just haven’t saved for a pension. Doing my auto-enrolment seminars, you come across people saying things like, ‘I’m 53 and I’ve never saved in a pension. What’s the point?’
“Their focus was always property, but they’d never consistently saved for retirement.”
She accepts that equity release had a bad name in the late 1980s and early 1990s, but says it is a different market now.
“The products keep evolving. In those days, there was a danger of negative equity but that can’t happen now with most lenders.
“If the property is in negative equity, that’s the end of it. The lender does not pursue the negative equity, there is just no equity left to pass to children.”
2011-present: Director, Hanover Wealth Management
2008-2011: Director, Anson IFA
2004-2008: Director, Personal Touch Financial Services
2002-2004: Mortgage adviser, Coyne Parkinson Dunne
1997-2002: Non-customer-facing roles at the Inland Revenue
1992-1997: Finance manager, Rainbow International (South Africa)
1982-1992: Executive officer, Girobank