When thinking about what to write for this article, various topics came to mind, such as being a female adviser, media commentary and working with professional connections. The one thing that struck me about all of these is that a big part of my USP is my personality.
When I started out as an adviser, I tried to be the calm, cool, collected professional which I believed clients wanted. But this isn’t really me. I’ve always been very open and bubbly, I wear my heart on my sleeve and I am equally as quick to tell someone my life story as to cry at theirs.
So trying to behave otherwise was really hard work. I found I was constantly holding back, biting my tongue and not really feeling fulfilled through my interactions. Yet as I gained confidence professionally, I relaxed and started to show my personality.
This was particularly apparent when dealing with other professionals like accountants and solicitors. I was conscious our profession is not always viewed as highly as theirs’, and I wanted to ensure I was taken seriously. So I tried to maintain the sleek, professional persona I believed they would respect. But as I got to know them as individuals, I realised they are all normal people and that people do business with people whom they like.
What's more, I realised if you don’t open up and show your personality then it is quite hard for people to like you. As a happy aside to this, I’ve made what I am confident will be lifelong friends through what were initially business relationships. It is friendship first, business second and having that truly genuine connection makes it much easier and genuinely enjoyable to work together.
We ask clients to reveal so much about themselves I feel it really helps put them at ease when I open up to them. I draw on and allude to my own personal experiences where appropriate; such as my divorce, and managing my late grandmother into a care home.
I show them my cashflow plan to demonstrate the service I offer and I show them my money on our client interface; this has the two-fold benefit of showing them I am open and honest and that I invest my money in the same way I am recommending they do.
We also often talk about things which aren’t financial such as careers, hobbies and interests. This has led to me introducing clients with similar interests to each other, and even helping clients to get jobs by making introductions.
Showing my personality has also helped to raise my profile with media commentary. Journalists and broadcast producers want interesting and engaging commentary from someone with an opinion; not some safe generic statement. I am passionate about financial planning and I show this - I am not scared to put myself out there and voice my opinion.
I am not the most polished, or technically astute adviser. I won’t always tell clients what they want to hear. And I am certainly not the adviser to come to if someone wants an investment professional to hypothesise on where the markets are headed next.
In my small office of five advisers we all have very different personal styles. There is no point trying to be all things to all people. Instead I think be the truest and best version of yourself and let your personality shine through. You will attract people who are the right fit for you and ultimately this should be much more personally and professionally rewarding.