One of the key issues that affected advisers most throughout the pandemic was business development. As a response to this, we created a white paper How to grow your business during lockdown.
Although it was written to help advisers deal with the restrictions forced upon their business during the pandemic, the tips are still very much relevant now.
Working practices have changed and may never be the same again. Some of the issues we found when writing the paper included:
- 75% of advisers struggled to write new business during lockdown.
- Clients in decumulation are causing a natural headwind for adviser AUA.
- The cost of doing business increases every year (PI cover, FSCS levies) so profits are coming under pressure.
We wanted to address these challenges, and also speak to other advisers to find out what they were doing.
One of those stories is from Mark Finster of Helm Godfrey
They started by focusing on reassuring clients, but as the virus escalated, so did the amount of time they spent with clients to reassure them. They were doing up to 15 video meetings with clients every day for weeks. As a result, any thoughts of new business went out the window at that time.
By the summer things had settled into the ‘new normal’ and new business was back on the agenda. For Mark, referrals are the most reliable way of winning quality clients. Getting referrals from existing clients comes as a natural part of the conversation but it takes preparation. Before a review meeting, Mark spends 5-10 minutes thinking about any referral opportunities that may have come up from previous meetings such as:
- Is the client seen as being financially aware by family/friends...they make the best referees!
- Will they inherit and if so, should I meet their parents?
- Do they have siblings? What do they do for a living?
- Are their own children in need of financial advice? Are they moving home, getting married or having children of their own?
- Does the client have a spouse or life partner that I don’t advise?
- Are there business partners? Is there a coordinated exit strategy?
- Are colleagues receiving bonuses or LTIPs?
Clearly this is not an exhaustive list but spending that extra time preparing for a meeting definitely pays dividends. Mark has had nine new quality referrals in recent months. He says what’s key is self-belief that what you do makes a positive difference to people’s lives.
Tom Senogles Efficient Portfolio also contributed
A core part of their marketing involves running three regular types of events: business breakfasts, lunch seminars focused on financial planning and dinner seminars focused on estate planning.
They were able to convert all of these to online events and while the hospitality element has been removed, it does offer a safe way for clients to interact and learn about what they offer and how it could help them.
The firm promotes these events via social media and direct mail invitations to prospective clients. They find that sending a personalised invite to an event tends to be more successful than an automated approach.
Dealing with the new normal
Earlier this year I attended the Richmond PIMS forum, which was a marathon of 30 meetings over a two-day period.
Alongside the one-to-ones I had with some great adviser firms, I ran a seminar with the title ‘There is No Going Back to ‘Normal’: How to Thrive in a Hybrid World’. Clearly it was a topic that resonated because the room was packed.
When concluding the session, I left the attendees with four main tips to help them grow their business (these were all gleaned from advisers rather than my own thoughts):
1. Preparation and structure – you need to dedicate time and focus to formulating an action plan. This is not something you can do successfully in a spare 5 minutes
2. Visibility – find ways to remind your clients/prospects that you exist. Social media and webinars are both good, cost effective, routes to achieve this.
3. Communication – frequency needs to increase and variety is key – don’t just rely on the written word. Add in videos, podcasts, social events.
4. Data and analysis – if you’re trying new approaches, it is crucial to be able to judge what is and isn’t working. 'Fail fast' and then refocus on the approach that is working.