The hardest thing about what we do as advisers is having to promote something that’s ephemeral. And life planning in particular is very new. It’s about peace of mind and confidence around your money, but how do you articulate it?
It’s a bit like trying to explain what Coke’s like to someone who’s never tasted it before. Our clients tell us they love life planning, but they can’t tell us that until they’ve experienced it. So we have this big problem at the beginning of the process.
We want a certain type of client and it’s really hard to find them because they’re not looking. The people we want to work with don’t know what to look for to find us.
Our website gives it a good go, but I still don’t think we’ve managed to articulate clearly enough what someone gets out of the life planning experience. I wrote the copy myself having decided that someone else probably wouldn’t be able to write it from a client experience point of view.
But actually lately we’ve had people say “I’ve read about what you do on the website and we want to work like that.” So it must be hitting the mark.
PR and marketing
PR and marketing has been a massive thing for us. I’ve recently managed to infiltrate the consumer press with a piece in the Telegraph. Once you build up your contacts within the industry press then when you get something online through them it’s accessible to everyone and this can make a massive difference.
Twitter was the biggest platform I used initially. I was quite active on it and I’ve amassed quite a few followers (8,555 and counting). It links up to our business FaceBook page and that automatically feeds through to our LinkedIn page and Instagram account.
That’s managed by Phil Calvert of IFA Life and Vicky Wilson who writes original material for us that goes out as on our blog and as newletters. Then we combine it with the content that Jeremy writes through Passle, a blog writing kit.
We’re in transition at the moment and are moving to fixed fees – this is the biggest difference between us and most firms in the UK.
There are no minimum asset values - our proposition offers a full financial life planning service, with ongoing coaching, which costs £208 a month.
We’ll manage up to £250,000 worth of assets for free within that cost. This means that if clients are at the start of their career, or have young families and haven’t quite built up their assets yet, but still really need the coaching and the education and the support to start to build up their wealth – then they get it then, when they need it, and not when they’ve already built up their assets.
Articulating the charges
We’re very clear about what’s involved because it’s £2,500 a year. But if people can afford to pay £150 on Sky TV they can afford to pay £208 a month to have a financial coach.
We set it out as one annual meeting in which we review their whole situation, and then we include touch points throughout the year if something major happens.
This is exactly the same as if we manage their assets, it’s just that we set out the goals for what they’re going to be doing that year. Often with someone like that it might not be about their Isas or their pensions, it might be how to increase their disposable income or how to be more aware of their expenditure or how to include their children in the planning.
I’m heavily involved in Advice Front and we’re going to be using it alongside our main offering as an alternative for the children of our existing clients, or new clients who can’t afford £208 a month, or anyone that falls outside of our current offering.
It will also help to attract the millennials – everyone thinks that millennials don’t want face-to-face advice, but they do, they just don’t always want it – so there has to be an option that suits them.
We’ve future-proofed our business by including a robo advice element and we’re seeing a growth phase now.
Life planning isn’t weird and wonderful, it’s about conviction – are you just running a business to make money, or are you trying to make a difference? I’m in the latter camp. The thing is that when you’re in the latter camp, the profits come too. You just have to try a little harder to articulate it.