No matter how great your financial advice is, people won't stick around if you don't make them feel safe, listened to, and happy.
At Becketts, we thrive on making the complex simple, so clients can make the most of their time and passions. Here are some of our guiding principles and processes.
1. Silence is golden
Not when it comes to communication – but service. Our service philosophy comes from the Japanese word 'Omotenashi'. The hard work is silently undertaken in the background, with minimal disruption for the client; this is a service that is unobtrusive and fits around our clients’ busy lives.
If anything can be pre-empted by the Becketts team to make a process easier for a client, it will be. Therefore having a proactive mindset and anticipating any further demand is key.
This is important as we focus on working with business owners and those preparing for exit. They're very busy people and however much they love working with us (!) they understandably prefer to spend their free time with family or enjoying their hobbies.
To help them do this, we do everything we can behind the scenes so that they have a smooth and straightforward experience with us. We work directly with their accountants, solicitors, tax advisers, and legal team if we need to. We do it without copying the client in on every email – we all have their best interests at heart, and they trust us.
Our clients’ needs may change over time, but our ability to work in this way if required allows us to service them in multiple ways.
2. Think outside the box
As well as sending out our suitability reports, we also record and send them a video narration – most often orientated around their cashflow forecast planning.
While high-quality written reports come as standard, they're a little less engaging. I can confidently say that no one has ever re-read a report I've carefully written months later! However when it comes to video, we've found that clients do go back and re-watch them.
We've spent ten years adjusting our reports to make them as consumer friendly as possible. By adding video summaries, we’re offering the best of both worlds. We find clients have become a lot more engaged this way and then come to us with questions, which shows they’re really taking it all in.
3. Create a valuable in-office experience
We started using Zoom in 2015, but while I'm a big fan of online meetings, I truly believe financial planning is best done face-to-face. I like to meet clients in person and see what they’re up to in their lives.
When it comes to our own offices, we’ve taken inspiration from other industries, specifically from 5-star hotels. We make sure our clients get a warm welcome by putting their name on a reserved car parking space. Our offices are beautifully decorated and we make the most of every little detail to make them feel at home. We also take feedback: one client suggested they’d like muffins when they come in, so we’ve added that note to our CRM to ensure they’re served every time they visit!
Anything the client wants, we do - within limits! We have strong mantras around investment structure and how to do tax planning. But if they want to meet us on Zoom this week, and come to the office next week, that's absolutely fine too.
4. Eat your own dog food
Not many financial planners have a financial plan, but it’s something to consider.
The key is stepping outside yourself and looking at what you’re doing as a business with both a financial planning and also a business mindset. Do I adhere to all the things I recommend to clients? I’ve used all our own investment solutions on my plan and used the same approach to defining risk. I can therefore talk to them completely openly and honestly about what it’s like, which means it never feels didactic or patronising.
There’s longevity in this message – I’m able to reassure clients at the moment, for example, as none of us are immune to the challenging market conditions – we’re all suffering!
5. Easy on the message
In our experience, the concept of a financial plan can be difficult for clients to grasp – yes it’s true, we’re not selling products, but for some clients, at the moment they come to us, that’s all they know.
Instead of trying and explain that there’s more to us than this – which is always tempting – we simply focus on solving their immediate concern. Quite often this concerns their pension, or a tax issue - we make sure we deal with the issue that’s troubling them there and then.
From there, we work outwards, talking to them about the bigger picture, and what else we can do, which eventually encompasses the entire financial planning message.
Offering top-notch financial advice is just one part of the customer service pie. By following the guiding principle of 'Omotenashi', and looking at how other industries keep their clients happy, we continue to challenge ourselves and create exceptional experiences for clients.