A new year is a good time to reflect on the 12 months gone by and look ahead at what is to come. We have been asking what our firm has done well, where we can improve and what our targets for this year are.
Last year was good for us. It was our first full year (our accounts run 1 January to 31 December) and we ended it with around 15 per cent higher turnover than forecast. Our targets for new clients and referrals were also up on where we wanted to be.
Our starting position in terms of recurring revenue is good, the business is on a solid footing for growth and I am proud of the start we have made and how we are seen by both clients and the profession as a whole.
Upon reflection, though, I got to thinking about how I deem myself and my business a success.
A company’s turnover/profit is quite rightly seen as one measure; industry awards another. But predominantly, it seems to be the assets under management number.
We’re always reading about XYZ company that manages £x million, or ABC company buying DEF company, which has £x million under management. It is ingrained into the fabric of everything financial services.
I think this is part of the reason it is not the most trusted of professions. It’s always about the money. There is something crass about the boasting of some firms as to how much assets they look after.
I believe normal people will find it hard to ascertain the sheer size of the numbers. What is more, I don’t think the next generation of socially responsible people care too much about those things. It’s old school.
It then got me thinking about what I would like people to know about when they ask how we are doing.
We work with a much younger clientele than most, so I think we have a good perspective of what that demographic deems something to be proud of. I came up with some of my own metrics.
I reckon using the number of families we help will resonate as a measure of success. I also want to use the number of kids we have provided financial education to through our partnership with The Money Charity. Or the number of children we have helped have counselling for bereavement by working with Grief Encounter.
These things are important to me. They are where we can really make a difference and are something to be proud of.
Incidentally, we manage £30m of assets, but who cares? The world is becoming far more socially conscious and I want this to be reflected in how our business operates.
Now, I understand that sometimes I can be a little idealistic. I call myself an optimistic realist. But I have the chance to create the business I want. What will I want to look back on in years to come? It is about more than just money. I want to contribute to society. I want people to be proud of me, proud of my business.
I want to be seen by my children as someone who always gave back, who had old school values with modern vision and who understood what success truly meant.
So let’s see how this year shapes up. Have a fantastic one.
Sam Sloma is managing director of Engage Financial Services