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Keith Churchouse: The benefits of getting active in your community

Most professional financial advisers have worked hard at making connections in their chosen community.

The targets of their networking might be professional connections, such as accountants and solicitors, business connections in a chosen geographical area, or possibly following a specialist group, such as doctors or farmers.

We bring to the table significant knowledge and skills to help with financial planning, both to individuals and businesses, sharing information and experience of what can be achieved and the hurdles to be challenged and overcome.

With many financial advisers looking at their business models in light of the requirements of the retail distribution review, our recent experiences are testament to this issue.

I recently attended an awards event where Gill Cardy, managing director of IFA Centre, was speaking. She underlined these points, referring to the resilience of our profession as a group and our ability to get the job done whatever the circumstances. It was a rousing speech and I commend her thoughts and attitude.

By nature, we are invariably good at networking, both personally and, in its latest format, social media. Many of us are not exactly shy in projecting ourselves forward, and the saying “people buy people” is not lost on IFAs.

We spend our lives talking to people about their work, their lives and their needs. This is a privilege unique to our profession and one that I certainly enjoy.

By doing business we are adding to our economy and to some extent rely on a vibrant economy to keep our business profitable. I feel that with the social and interactive attributes many of us hold, we have the ability to add back as much, if not more, than we take.

Many organisations we see, use and enjoy (and sometimes take for granted) do not have the personal skills, can-do attitude and ability that we have, and would benefit greatly from our help to promote their cause in our networking journey. I am referring to charities, networking providers, business forums and professional institutions, among others.

Although it is easy to be apathetic about this subject, it is always great to see our profession represented in such groups, adding in value to their causes where they can. I am not referring to just promoting yourself or making donations, but being involved in their committees, being a trustee, giving time, hosting events and connecting companies and benefactors to worthy causes that will truly benefit from our ability to go that extra mile.

Certain politicians might refer to this as Big Society, and I am not sure I agree with this. I think it is more – it is giving back to the society that serves you. I believe that if we have the abilities and connections to do this, the helping hand we can easily provide has manifest benefits to many important causes. Think it through next time you are at a networking event and see how many you can connect. The more you connect, the more will revert to you when financial planning is the issue at hand.

Your community needs you, as you need them.

Keith Churchouse is director of Chapters Financial Limited

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