Good advisers want to do their utmost for clients and that includes providing excellent customer service. For some firms, this means going the extra mile and taking care of clients in other ways, not just in terms of their finances.
Here, three advisers tell us how they have gone above and beyond their usual call of duty.
Researching for quality of life
Beaufort Planning in Taunton focuses on life planning and cashflow modelling, which can often lead its advisers to research products like motorcycles instead of pensions.
Managing director Mark Cooper says one client was involved in a serious road accident in which she lost her husband and a daughter. This resulted in a substantial settlement and when Cooper started the life planning process – asking the client if she had all the financial freedom in the world but it was too late, what hadn’t she done, seen or become – her answer surprised him. “She said she didn’t get to become the lady that rode a motorcycle,” he says.
Cooper discovered that while growing up, the client’s brothers and father all had motorcycles but, as a girl, she wasn’t allowed one. Once she’d got a job and left home, she became pregnant and didn’t get to buy a motorcycle.
Cooper helped the client understand she needed to get fitter to be able to fulfil that dream. “We researched what sort of motorcycle she could get as she was so tiny; how you could get a motorcycle lowered so it would fit her. We researched the safety gear and motorcycle training. Eventually she passed her test and bought one,” says Cooper.
“A year down the line, she turned up riding a Harley Davidson, grinning like a Cheshire cat. It was while riding with people who like big American motorcycles that she met the man who is now her husband.”
Beaufort Planning’s advisers have also researched blenders to improve the quality of life of a client who had been disabled through toxic poisoning, and helped a couple get their marriage back on track after the husband took on too much at work. But does all this benefit the business?
“Massively. Those three cases have given us £2m to £2.5m under management,” says Cooper.
“We have clients for life; we are never going to lose that business as we have become an integral part of their lives. Future business happens easily and the amount of effort is minimal because the client is fully engaged and on our side. I also feel I can justify the commercial fees commensurate of the time we put into a case.”
Mazars chartered financial planner Natalie Wright works mainly with clients who are business owners or directors. These clients provide good packages for employees and want to look after them but other financial commitments can limit what they can do. To help, Wright runs pro bono financial planning surgeries for the employees on an annual basis.
“We started in April last year with one client and got about nine out of 50 employees attending. We ran it again this year and had a larger take up, so we rolled it out to another employer,” says Wright.
“The issues we come across range from debt problems to starting an Isa or making a will. Some people just need to talk. It might not be something we can help with, but we can always point people in the right direction.”
Wright says that, while the surgeries have generated a couple of clients, this is not their purpose.
“We have had a couple of death-in-service cases where the families were not well off and were heavily reliant on quite low salaries. They needed some hand-holding but for us it wasn’t about getting a fee,” she says
Health and wealth
The implications of an unhealthy lifestyle and being seriously overweight can hit home when advisers do cashflow planning based on assumptions of how long clients are likely to live.
That is why Sound Financial is starting 2018 with a fun health initiative for clients which will involve fitness and nutrition advice from a personal trainer, morning networking runs and nutritious client breakfast or lunch events.
“We were looking at a new angle for marketing and decided to look at health and wealth,” says Sound Financial director Stephen Murphy.
“We’ve teamed up with a personal trainer who has helped us with ideas on what we can do. We want to bring clients’ attention to their health and what they are doing to look after themselves when life expectancy now stretches in to the mid-80s.”
Clients’ health is something Sound Financial already takes seriously. The firm offers clients health checks as part of its service as it believes showing clients they care about them as people, not just their finances, builds trust.