View more on these topics

Martin Bamford: Building an advice business begins at home

Martin Bamford

When I first started out as an IFA I spent a reasonable amount of time working with some clients in Liverpool. That is about 240 miles from where I live and work in deepest Surrey, or around five hours each way by car.

It was one of those client relationships that started off innocently enough. We had a corporate client in the geographically much closer London, which decided to open a distribution warehouse in Birmingham. For a while we met regularly with the warehouse operators in Birmingham and advised them on their group pension scheme options.

And then the London head office decided it needed a call centre in Liverpool to handle their customer service. Employing phone monkeys in Liverpool is apparently a lot cheaper than doing so in the City of London.

Five-hundred-mile round trips to advise youngsters on entering a group personal pension – in the full knowledge they would probably have changed jobs within a few months – was not my idea  of fun. It was, however, good practice for a newbie and a reasonable earner at the time, even if that revenue was unprofitable in the long term.

I was reminded of these road trips during a client meeting the other day. Asking where the couple had heard about me, they presented a Society of Later Life Advisers leaflet they picked up at their father’s care home. As a recent Solla member, I am enjoying referrals from its directory, so it was little surprise how they got my name. What was slightly surprising was the source of the leaflet.

It was left in the reception area of the care home by another Solla member, an IFA based in Dorset. This IFA had made the 200-mile round trip to leave his contact details at a care home less than a mile down the road from me.

This discovery prompted two things in my head. First, I needed to get some of my own leaflets printed and placed in all the local care homes. Second, why on earth are IFAs fishing for clients such a long way from home?

I can understand wanting to continue the working relationship with a once-local client that has moved away. I can understand when an existing client refers you to their friend, colleague or relative who lives in another part of the country. I can even understand when your best corporate client opens a call centre in Liverpool and wants you to be the one looking after the pensions advice for its new team. What I cannot get my head around is an adviser actively marketing for new clients anywhere but in their hometown.

Things might be different for advisers outside of the South-east. In this neck of the woods,  there are enough prospective clients to be found in any niche within a 10-mile radius of your front door. We focus our marketing activity on our village because it secures the results we need  in terms of quality and quantity of new clients.

Perhaps IFAs like spending time waiting for delayed trains or stuck in traffic. Maybe some are blind to the possibilities that exist in their neighbourhood. Or, just possibly, could some advisers have blown their reputations in their local communities, leading them to hunt further from home?

Whatever the reason for choosing to roam in search of new clients, feedback from our local ones and the professional contacts we work with suggests, all things being equal, they will always choose the local adviser over the one based out of town.

Martin Bamford is managing director of Informed Choice


Stephen Hagues Retiring IFA

How to plan your business exit strategy

As a business owner it is natural to be focused on survival and growth, especially in the advice industry, where adapting to the changing regulatory landscape is a big challenge. However, when the time comes, deciding how to exit your business is one of the most critical decisions you will ever make. Stepping back from […]


Smarter Business Innovators: Informed Choice’s Martin Bamford

  What sets your business apart from its peers? We are different from a lot of our peers by virtue of being family owned and managed, but it is our self-awareness that really allows us to stand out from the crowd. We know exactly what we do, who we enjoy working with and where we […]

Nick Bamford: Pension freedoms are still a work in progress

Before we know it, we will be celebrating the first year of pension freedoms. It has been an interesting experience for regulators, providers, advisers and clients alike. Certainly, most advisers will have experienced an almost unprecedented level of interest from consumers excited by the prospect of taking their pension fund and doing with it exactly […]

Natixis video: Making smarter use of asset classes

Content supplied by Natixis Global Asset Management This video from Natixis Global Asset Management focuses on Active Share. One strategy for the smarter use of equity investments is ensuring you get what you pay for. According to the company, looking at Active Share can give you a better perspective on where performance comes from. Active […]


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up


There are 3 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. I have one client that is more than 40 miles or 1 hour from my office front door taken on as a referral from an existing client. We spend enough time in our roles on non-client facing tasks why you want to add hours of travelling to that is beyond me.

  2. I agree with Martin. Whilst we do have some legacy clients dotted around the place – some in Surrey funnily enough – they are long standing profitable relationships so we maintain them. As far as our marketing is concerned we also focus on the surrounding area where there are plenty of people in our target market.

  3. I too agree with Martin. Catchment area max 1 hr drive. Target market walking distance 5 miles. Being by the seaside on a bend, that makes 3 quarters of potential clients FISH.

Leave a comment


Why register with Money Marketing ?

Providing trusted insight for professional advisers.  Since 1985 Money Marketing has helped promote and analyse the financial adviser community in the UK and continues to be the trusted industry brand for independent insight and advice.

News & analysis delivered directly to your inbox
Register today to receive our range of news alerts including daily and weekly briefings

Money Marketing Events
Be the first to hear about our industry leading conferences, awards, roundtables and more.

Research and insight
Take part in and see the results of Money Marketing's flagship investigations into industry trends.

Have your say
Only registered users can post comments. As the voice of the adviser community, our content generates robust debate. Sign up today and make your voice heard.

Register now

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3712

Lines are open Monday to Friday 9:00am -5.00pm