If Mary Poppins was a financial planner she would be pretty awesome. Practically perfect in every way, something I can only aspire to be.
In financial services, we sit the same exams, we work within the same rules and regulations but what differentiates us all, is how we interpret the regulation and apply it to our advice, our service and our businesses.
I believe, that it’s the bit beyond the financial planning, that really helps gain clients trust, its the little personal touches that helps engage the client and cements the relationship.
This isn’t rocket science, some of you are likely already doing it, it might make some of you want to run for the hills, switch off, or do the opposite and that’s OK because we are all different, our clients have different needs and objectives and importantly different personalities, so it is essential that as an adviser community we can cater for that.
When we set up the business 5 years ago, we didn’t set out to do things differently, we wanted to do what came naturally to us, we really care. We care about the client and we want to help them as much as we can and therefore, we wanted to create a completely client focused business and bring a bit of our personality to what we do.
Practically perfect in every way
We do such detailed financial planning it makes sense that you should continue that attention to detail on every aspect of the business
We’ve thought about our office space from the wallpaper to the art work even down to the crockery we serve our teas and coffees in. The overall look, feel and first impression of your office is important.
We’ve thought in detail about our branding, from the type of font and size, the colour pallet, the language we use and consistency is essential.
Think bigger than you are and set that bar high. We are certainly punching above our weight for such a small firm. We have tried to create presence through our brand and the aim of all this, is to put the client at ease, given them something to relate to and make life easy for them and gain their trust.
We all know clients don’t want to be bamboozled with jargon and its really difficult to get away from this in our industry and sometimes it can creep in, we try to really try to keep things simple and use the David Attenborough approach in our explanation whereby we “assume a level of intelligence but no knowledge”.
Step in time
Communication is essential to work effectively within your team, we all know this and we are a small team of 6 so it should be easy right? Wrong. Some of the team are part time and some (me) don’t necessarily work mon-fri 9-5 so a central communication system has been essential. We use Microsoft teams and this has allowed us to all be on the same page and be able to work in sync with each other. We believe in teamwork, there is no hierarchy in our office everyone’s role is crucial in the overall running of the business.
I recently had a 15 year review with a client (annuals in between), but if you do the maths I haven’t actually been advising for that length of time – but 15 years, that quite a long time. I was involved with this client planning as an administrator and as a paraplanner and there is nothing more satisfying that seeing the plans come to fruition. Building a relationship of trust with this client together with a number of others meant that they wanted to work with me. So when we set up Wellington Wealth they actively sought us out and came to the firm. So although advising may be your end goal NEVER underestimate your role as an administrator / paraplanner as the client notices and appreciates the work you do – they want to work with you!
We love to laugh
There is a lot of laughter in our office (with the team, with our clients), you’ve got to enjoy what you do and if you don’t – do something that makes you happy because life is too short. The team always know if a meeting is going well when there is laughter coming from the meeting room. Bringing passion, enthusiasm and loving what you do comes across in everything you touch. I’m lucky I genuinely love what I do, our team love coming into work. So much so we renamed it fun-ancial advice.
Our role isn’t easy, meetings can be tricky.
We talk about death a lot, not the most cheery subject, and we all know we could do the perfect financial plan if a client gave us that end date. But we also see the benefit that financial planning can have on a family in the event of premature death or a significant change in circumstances. Now don’t get me wrong its not easy, its hard work, stressful, challenging and now as a parent and working full time it is a juggle. Bringing fun to it just makes it a bit better, and I’m not saying it in jest as fun sparks creativity, innovation and happiness and that important to us, and our business and it is what we are trying to bring to clients.
I remember as a trainee adviser I felt my financial planning was on point, technically I knew my stuff, but what I wasn’t too sure of was the chit chat bit – and you can’t plan that. On speaking to some more senior well-established advisers and they all said, it will come. One of my early solo meetings was to advise a client on a withdrawal. Now the planning part was nailed but this particular client was in their 70s and what I used to do, was try to think of someone I knew who was around that age so it might help with the chit chat part. But at this point in time, I didn’t know anyone in their 70s (my gran was in her 80s parents autunites/uncles in their 60s) so I didn’t know what chit chat they would be into. So I went in and started up the meeting, sweat dripping down your back but outwardly cool calm and collected. After the usual pleasantries we got down to business and I ask what he was planning on doing with the monies. It turns out he as making the withdrawal to landscape his garden and as part of the landscaping he was building a petanque piste (a game also known as French boules). Well boom, little did he know he was speaking to female flinger of the year 1990. I grew up in a pub and in the beer garden was petanque piste so I had played petanque for years – so that was us! So having experiences and hobbies out with financial services certainly helps with the chit chat, but really humans deal with humans and I promise you, the chit chat bit will come.
We have an entrepreneurial brain surgeon, musicians, engineers, retired solicitors, artists, accountants, consultants, painter decorators, fund managers, footballers, all at various ages and stages. So you might be sat there thinking was is their niche? And without being super cheesy our niche is nice people. We state this in our criteria of our ideal client. Normal, Interesting, Colourful, Entertaining.
If you think back to all the client meetings you’ve had where there is hassle – I bet its because they are not nice people, too demanding, you can’t please them, they are rude, they think you are a magician rather than a financial planner. Does this ring any bells?
Well don’t do it. We are in demand for our services, there is a shortage of people doing what we are doing and more importantly doing it right, with a touch of personality and flare. That said in the film remember, Mr Banks didn’t start out being a nice person, he took a bit of work. And actually, he was unhappy in his job but after some of the events in the film he became a much more caring and devoted family man. Who knows if a financial planner was involved.
I’m Nicola Ellis and I’m off to fly a kite!