Let’s put an end to “networking”…

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“It’s not netCHAT; it’s not netSIT. It’s netWORK…”

That was my introduction to networking. A mediocre breakfast in a worse hotel, surrounded by eager beavers determined to get referrals and drive sales, hosted by the man with this witty call to action, supported by well-rehearsed hand movement which created a “W” at the appropriate time.

I hated it. It felt desperate. I even hated the word; “networking”. Still do.

Holistic Financial Planning (with a medium sized “H”)

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The definition of holistic planning can mean different things to different people. As you may be aware, the word is essentially defined by the belief that the parts of something are intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole. The connection with the financial planning process is clear but for some financial planning firms, this goes one step further and involves building plans that take into account their client’s financial as well as emotional wellbeing. I would say that this is offering holistic planning with a large “H”!

5 key steps to create a great client experience

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What makes a great client experience? ‘Nothing fancy’ would be my answer. All you need to do well to create a great client experience in our profession are the basics. So what are they?

1. First contact

When a new client contacts your business via telephone or email, you respond quickly. In today’s online world, a slow response is poor (unless you’re the only game in town – which most of us are not).

How do your team answer the phone? Do they sound pleasant? Do they take good messages? Are they helpful even if it’s someone else in the business who the prospect should be speaking to?

A time to be “responsible”…

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“People who want to make a difference in the world usually do it, one way or another.” Beth Clark

Without wishing to sound arrogant, I believe I was put on this Earth with the power to change it for the better; and therefore it’s my responsibility to do so. So I’m going to.

Let me qualify that. I believe we all were; that we share that responsibility and, whether we realise it or not, are doing our best to do just that.

Creating a legacy

We’re united by a common obsession; the creation of legacy.

10 questions to make sure you choose the right network

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Choosing the right IFA network to support your business isn’t an easy decision. Get it wrong and the pain to change again can be considerable, but get it right and your network partner will help your business to flourish.

Before we go any further let me make one thing clear; not every advisory firm should be a member of a network. For some, direct authorisation is the most appropriate route, for others being a network member is the right choice. I recognise that there are pros and cons for each option, but let’s put that to one side until another day.

So, whether you are a new start business, or have many years trading behind you and have decided now is the time to change network, what questions should you be asking your existing network, or indeed one you are considering joining and what answers should you be looking for?

Sign (or not) in haste, and repent at leisure

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As lawyers we are often consulted by both IFA businesses and those seeking to leave a business, where either the terms that apply on the departure of a key individual are not clear, or the terms are clear but cause either the individual or the business a potentially significant problem.

The crux of the problem is often one of two things. Either the relevant party did not read a contract at the time that they signed and joined a business, or nothing was signed at all and the terms are not clear.

Two common areas where this arises are shareholder/director disputes and disputes with employed or self-employed advisers (often around restrictive covenants).

The Care Act – Bringing change and opportunity

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With the first elements of the Care Act 2014 introduced in April, the biggest shake-up of the care system is underway. But while the Act is designed to make the funding of care fairer, it remains a highly complex area.

These complexities make financial advice a must and, as a result, we believe that specialist care fees advice will be a key growth area over the next few years. Understanding the new rules and building expertise in this area will enable advisers to take advantage of the opportunities the Care Act 2014 presents.

So what’s changed this April?

Unbiased or Vouchedfor, which one should you use?

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For years Unbiased was the dominant IFA directory, until in 2012 Vouchedfor launched, giving advisers and consumers greater choice.

But which one should you sign up to, Unbiased or Vouchedfor? Before we can answer that we need to look more closely at the two options.

8 tips to help new-start IFAs manage their cash

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Cash is THE most important thing in your business, now and forever. And getting into good cashflow habits early will help to make sure your business survives and gives you the lifestyle you’re looking for.

As an IFA you’re used to helping your clients manage their money, but it’s very different when you’re starting out on your own. Especially if it’s the first time you have run your own business and when there are so many other calls on your time.

As a new business you need to make sure you’ve got enough cash to last until you get into profit. This always takes longer than you think, and your costs will always be more than you expect them to be.

The challenges and opportunities of starting a new advisory business

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Leaving the security blanket of working in a larger organisation certainly has its pluses and minuses, yet that’s how almost all of us got started in this fantastic profession.

Of course there are some challenges when you go out on your own, including:

  • Just surviving for the first year or two
  • Creating everything from scratch (from business processes to which technology to use)