As a firm that’s been established for 41 years, it’s understandable that the typical age profile of our clients has tended to be those who are at or near retirement.
This is probably not that different to most advice firms. But when we looked at our client base in a bit more detail, we quickly realised it wasn’t sustainable. We wanted to make sure we brought through different types of client so that the business continued to grow, while still very much wanting to look after our existing clients.
We decided to focus on having a proposition that would attract younger clients and business owners, people that wouldn’t necessarily seek out advice and perhaps those that think they need to have a lot of assets in order to access financial planning services.
For me, the idea of going on the same journey as my clients is really attractive. By having a lot in common with clients, you can build very strong relationships with them. Ultimately, helping clients to grow and exit their businesses when the time is right is a fantastic thing to be a part of.
The crunch point
We decided to shift our thinking a couple of years ago. We repositioned our model based around the ideas set out in the business book ‘Blue Ocean Strategy’, looking at how we differentiated ourselves from other advice firms.
We asked ourselves: Who’s everybody’s chasing? With many firms focused on the high-net-worth, at retirement market, we were keen to target a different type of client. We identified that younger clients and entrepreneurs were a part of the market that was being underserved, but where we saw the most long-term potential.
Once we had decided on this, we started to see opportunities emerge through our professional connections who were able to put us in touch with younger clients, people in their thirties or forties who were the owners behind some really good businesses. We want to help people on the way to growing their wealth, and if you do a good job, that’s a relationship you’ve got for life.
What’s more, if our clients span both the high-net-worth at retirement space and those younger clients with valuable businesses, that has a positive impact on the value of our business. The future income potential of our business on that basis is colossal.
As part of our efforts to attract a different type of client, last year we put together a campaign focused on entrepreneurs. We had a panel of six of Scotland’s top entrepreneurs, some of them well-known and others less so, but all successful in what they do. The session was all geared around sharing their experiences; there was no sales pitch for Murphy Wealth whatsoever.
That event led to online video content and a white paper, all designed to demonstrate that business owners face similar challenges, and to offer advice from across the spectrum of the business world. It’s a campaign that we’re going to revisit again this year.
What’s worked for us is getting the message across to prospective clients, and particularly business owners, that they cannot separate out their business objectives from their personal objectives. It’s all intertwined – you can’t operate on a twin-track basis, with the two tracks going in opposite directions.
Part of our job is making sure those tracks are running in parallel, and that really resonates with people. This has especially been the case where there is more than one business partner involved, where perhaps one partner has family and the other doesn’t. Were it not for our involvement, those conversations may have taken years and a lot of heartache to come to the fore.
In my experience, younger clients aren’t interested in investments and pensions. What they are interested in is how they can make their business better, and understand the direction they’re going in. They’re keen to spot the planning gaps they haven’t identified, and our role is to help them understand how to make the most of what they’ve got. You have to meet them at that level.
Even among those in their forties and their fifties, there will be clients for whom their business is their baby and you have to understand what they’re trying to achieve. The principles of cashflow planning can be a useful aid here, along the lines of whether their business is worth what they think it is, what could it be worth and what difference that would make to their long-term planning.
As an extension of this we are setting up another business called Murphy Advisory which will take this a step further by helping clients grow fund and exit their businesses (more on this over the coming months). This means we can help clients achieve both their business and personal goals under the one roof. This way we are looking after client’s cradle-to-grave, and in a way that generates both value and profit.
Both Murphy Wealth and Murphy Advisory will operate fixed fee models to ensure clients receive maximum value for the service they receive.
Spreading the message
We’re investing a lot in PR and marketing to support this new focus, including with our professional connections. We want prospective clients to understand that financial planning is an option for everybody, and that if they’ve got a reasonably successful business then this is something they can afford. It’s not about having £1m to invest.
There are big brands that have the appeal and the reach to target those £1m clients, but that’s a different message to the one that Murphy Wealth and firms like us are looking to get out there.
The great thing is the more professionals we work with, the more that message gets out. We’re still a million miles away from where we want to be, but we are chipping away at this in our own small way.