Pete Matthew’s involvement in social media started “almost as a hobby” and was never intended to become a driver of new business. But the managing director of Jacksons Wealth Management has made a name for himself as a pioneer of social media within the advice sector, and he is now reaping the rewards of podcasting and video blogging.
Meaningfulmoney.tv, the personal finance education website for consumers that Matthew founded in 2010, is generating an average of one client a week for Jacksons. “Now it is our biggest source of new business and has overtaken client referrals in the year to date,” says Matthew.
“I’ve got clients all over the country, some of which I haven’t yet met, which is a reflection of getting clients from podcasting. I will meet those clients but, at the moment, we are doing everything by Skype.”
Given Matthew’s success, it is easy to see why he felt able to help other advisers achieve similar results. Last year he launched Advisertech, a membership website dedicated to online marketing and social media for advisers. In February, he won the Social Media Adviser category at the Unbiased.co.uk media awards.
So does he think more advisers should use social media?
“If you have a thriving practice with all the clients you need, it would be idiotic to say you need to use social media – but there is nothing to be lost and much to be gained from it.
“It is just one marketing method, of which there are many, such as golf days and word of mouth. But it works on a much bigger scale and is a window into the human psyche in that people overshare on sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, less so
For Matthew, social networking sites are massive databases that cost nothing to reach. “You can also advertise on these sites and the returns as meant to be incredible,” he says. “Advisers should use social media and their own websites as platforms. By that I mean virtual versions of physical platforms that are raised above the crowd, to show the world what you are, what you stand for and pull people in. It’s about being on the pulse of what’s going on in the market and showing you have a presence.”
Meaningfulmoney.tv emerged from Matthew’s belief that most people do not need to see a financial adviser because they have simple financial needs they are able to deal with themselves.
“I believe 99 per cent of people don’t need to see an adviser but, of course, everyone benefits from advice. The mechanics of financial planning are easy and I sometimes wonder why more people don’t do it themselves and why I have a job,” he says.
But for many people, taking control of their finances is hard. Matthew says his clients visibly relax once they understand they’ve got enough money or what they need to do to get enough to fulfil their plans. But to achieve this, he feels some clients need a nudge to make the right decisions, which involves the adviser demonstrating their sales skills.
“Sales is not a dirty word. As long as the motive is right and the client gets a good outcome, selling is just as important as it ever was, possibly even more so,” he says.
“There is no skill in selling products, where one is the same as the next. We can say ‘We’ve set you up with a pension’ but anyone can do that. The real power is with financial planning, and that may need selling to people, he says.
Matthew points out there is often a trigger that leads people to seek advice, for example, they may be buying a house or getting a divorce. “But the skill of the adviser is broadening that to pull out needs people didn’t know they had.”
A former McDonald’s burger flipper turned store manager, Matthew started out in financial services collecting premiums and selling new products for Co-operative Insurance. He became an IFA in 2001 and credits the boss at his first IFA firm with ensuring his smooth transition from tied agent to IFA, and teaching him to draw out clients’ wider needs by asking the right questions and listening.
Surprisingly, Matthew feels his time at McDonald’s was also useful further on in his career.
“Once you have been in management for McDonald’s, you understand the power of processes. Everything is systematic, with no element of discretion, and I realised that is why it’s a massive corporate. Those lessons served me well in coming up with a process to become more efficient. I also learnt a lot about dealing with staff and people management.”
Matthew drew on that experience when he became managing director of Jacksons Wealth Management in 2007. He joined the firm, which has been around for 90 years, as an adviser in 2005.
“It was a transactionary practice when I got here. Three advisers were working with different fact-find documents, each with suitability letters written in their own way. Tidying that up and standardising it was a huge part of my job as managing director, as well as investing in IT.
“But the biggest change was realising we were not portfolio managers and outsourcing that, rather than picking flavour-of-the-month funds and whatever was doing well at the time,” he says.
Looking ahead, Matthew is planning to grow Jacksons organically. “I’ve got no intention to grow by acquisition or grow too large. I want our turnover to reach £1m. We’ve got to £700-£750,000 this year,” he says.
Despite his enthusiasm for technology and his belief it will fill the advice gap, Matthew feels it will never replace face-to-face advice. He says: “Technology is just a tool. There are all the things it can arguably do to make our job better – but it can’t pick up on the nuances of what people say to you and get behind what’s been said.”
What is the best bit of advice you’ve received in your career?
Learn to read the responses that lie behind what clients say to you.
What’s keeping you awake at night?
I sleep really well but the volume of work that I have to get through can keep my mind active.
What is the most significant impact on financial advice in the past year?
The pension reforms announced in the Budget.
If I was put in charge of the FCA for a day I would…
Reform the way the FCA is paid for.
Any advice for new advisers?
To understand that money is irrelevant, it’s people that matter.
2005-present: Adviser then managing director, Jacksons Wealth Management
2002-2004: Director & financial planner, FP21
2000-2002: IFA, Ashwood Financial Services
1999-2000: Mortgage and insurance adviser, Allen & Harris, part of Royal & SunAlliance
1998-1999: Agent, Co-operative Insurance