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Phil Wickenden: Segmentation challenges

Advisers can no longer afford to treat all clients as equal

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Last week a tribe was born. With a rare 30 minutes to kill between meetings and a phone upgrade due I trundled into an EE store on Oxford Street. I like Blackberries. I phone, I email, I text and I browse. That is it. Blackberry works for me. 

Idling along the aisles of fancy, flashy swoosh-devices I became aware of the absence of this once workforce staple. Already feeling a touch self-conscious, rather like I was after something a bit dirty by today’s shiny Apple bobbing standards, I approached a sales person and enquired as to the whereabouts of the Blackberries.

Sympathetically (patronisingly) the sales assistant (judge) informed me they no longer stock Blackberries, parrying pointedly (think Jeeves’ distain at Worcester’s penchant for a white dinner jacket) “does it have to be Blackberry, sir?”. “Yes, actually, it does,” I sneered back, just in case she thought I was speaking metaphorically. I turned on my heels and sashayed swiftly out of the store, wheelie bag in tow, aghast at what I had become.

But I am pretty sure I am not alone in my preferences. The trick, as with any segmentation, is to really understand what makes certain groups of people different from others. What unites them in their otherness?

This is critical, you see, because, plainly, there is no more “everyone”. Instead, there are many pockets of “someones”. Our job is to find the disconnected and connect them, to find people eager to pursue a goal, in a particular way, and give them the structure, service and support to achieve that goal.

Advisers can no longer afford to treat all clients as equal. There are two reasons for this.

First, they need to ensure that each client gets exactly what they are paying for and eradicate over-servicing. Recurring income must then be inextricably linked to the level of service each client receives. This takes the guesswork out of an adviser’s growth strategy, and most get this.

But segmenting on the basis of assets alone is not enough. Sadly, most advisers have not got past this point yet, which is a shame because foisting clients into service propositions on the basis of their worth to your business alone will build better economies but will not build long term client value.

Phil Wickenden is managing director of So Here’s The Plan

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