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Sue Whitbread: What does a successful advice firm look like?

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Last month’s FCA report, following its thematic review into RDR disclosure, indicated that 73 per cent of the financial advice firms sampled failed to provide correct information on the cost of advice. 

It also found that 34 per cent of firms failed to give clients a clear explanation of their service.

This really highlights the importance of getting the client proposition right. When a firm does so, engaging the client at the start of the process is an exciting and positive experience, one that advisers are unlikely to skip over. 

What does a successful financial planning firm look like? Last month the IFP carried out a benchmarking survey of accredited financial planning firms in association with the Phil Billingham Partnership. Part of its purpose was to find some answers to this question. It was also intended to share best practice and provide direction to firms keen to boost their client proposition and build their businesses.

The survey found characteristics that are consistent across the majority of these firms.

For example, they put cashflow modelling at the centre of their client proposition and employ great people. They also have clear business plans, investment strategies and target markets. They use the best tools, top-quality support and software and have robust risk analysis processes.   

Crucially, the survey showed that accredited firms are generally well placed to expand and and, importantly for consumers, receive very few complaints.

The survey proves that having the right proposition, followed through by staff, can make the biggest single difference to business success.

Sue Whitbread is director of communications at the Institute of Financial Planning

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  1. Julian Stevens 7th May 2014 at 10:07 am

    A successful advice firm combines three simple ingredients ~ it’s profitable without over-charging, it has a satisfied and loyal customer base and it has very few, preferably zero complaints. Only in the minds of regulators ever intent on justifying their own existences is this recipe deemed inadequate and in constant need of being made endlessly more complicated, costly and time-consuming. It’s all that clients want, after all.

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