A key principle of success in all walks of life is a willingness to go the extra mile – “the rendering of more and better service than that for which one is paid” (Napoleon Hill 1920). It is difficult to find many instances of enduring success, which were not attained in part by the application of this principle. Unfortunately, it is a notion that has been rationalised out to the fringes of provider culture.
Of all providers and platforms we asked advisers to assess this quarter, only 7IM maintained its service levels. Experience, specialist focus and increasingly 24/7 access (albeit remotely) are the currency of today, yet are in short supply.
Reining in service and support may reduce costs in the short term but fail to take into account that when delivered well (in any industry):
a: It tends to make one indispensable (enabling you to command more than average compensation for services in the future).
b: It protects against the loss of business when business is scarce.
c: It enables you to profit by the law of contrast, since the majority do not practise the habit.
There is no doubt that advisers are evolving advice models that do not depend so heavily on providers. but there is also the recognition that they cannot be (nor should be) experts in everything. There is still an open door for providers that have experience and specialism in technically demanding markets (estate planning, long-term care, and trusts) to help advisers offer the best solutions for a core of increasingly sophisticated clients. Advisers say this is becoming more important, but providers are yet to respond.
Advisers appreciate that providers cannot spend disproportionate time helping with esoteric angles that can never benefit their business. But while needing to recognise the gradually evolving trend of technical and marketing self-reliance among advisers, those providers that look to provide a holistic service to advisers in the broad (and increasingly interconnected) markets in which they have a presence are the companies advisers will turn to first when building client portfolios.
Client suitability is king and advisers will only use the most appropriate solution based on their clients’ unique circumstances. But all things being (relatively) equal, providers who are prepared to go the extra mile have a better chance of winning business.
Phil Wickenden is founder of So Here’s The Plan
All quotes taken from interviews with QCF level 4 qualified fee-based IFAs.