6 practical tips to immediately improve your website


The news that 50% of IFAs don’t actively market their business, relying on word of mouth to attract new clients, has motivated me to put pen to paper (or at least fingers to keys) and write my first blog for Sense Network.

Anyone who knows me is well aware of my passion for marketing, especially websites, electronic communications and social media.

It’s websites that I want to focus on in my first blog.

First things first, why have a website?

Paraplanners: A cure for insanity?


Well here we are again, the festive season is over, the New Year has begun in earnest and thoughts naturally turn towards planning for the year ahead.

We all know that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing year in, year out while expecting a different result from what you’ve always got. So, what will you do differently this year to increase profitability of your business?

Most advisers would like to attract more clients, increase assets under management and reduce overheads. But what about something closer to home

The Client Catalyst for Success


Clients are undoubtedly the lifeblood of any advisory business, providing both cash-flow to the business on entry and generating embedded value during the on-going management of their financial affairs.

If key to your “survive and thrive” strategy is to grow the value of your business, then it is worth spending a bit of time considering your current and aspirations client population.  For example:

  • How diverse in value is my current client population?
  • Do I provide the right service to the right clients?
  • What is my ideal client and how many do I have?
  • How many clients is enough?

New Start-Ups on the Increase


The rate of new start-up IFA practices is very much on the increase. Is this the latest unexpected consequence of RDR?

At Sense, we have supported 12 new start AR businesses over the past 10 months, more than the combined number of firms joining us from other networks and Direct Authorisation. Whilst some groups of advisers have reacted against a forced move to restricted status, in many cases the catalyst was far more subtle.

Are you prepared for the needs of an ageing client base?


I’m sure you’re all aware that nowadays people are living a lot longer than ever before, with the media coverage that this brings, you’d be hard pushed to miss it.

The Government remains unprepared to deal with the demands an ageing population will place on society, according to a majority of British consumers.

Genuinely innovative communication is one of the only ways to show clients the great difference you can make to them


We have been lucky enough to work with many different clients in the financial services industry on many different projects over the last year or so, but it is always those projects that are ‘a little bit different’, that stand out in my mind when I look back over them.

This truism is, of course, not only a reflection of how I feel when I look at the work we have done and the routes clients have pursued to publicise themselves, but also of how your own clients and potential clients feel, when they try to remember the host of marketing messages they will have seen during the course of any given 12 months.

We all remember things that are different, we all remember things that stand out, that are a little bit out of the ‘ordinary’, no matter quite how you define ‘ordinary’.

Larger DA Firms face a Capital Adequacy dilemma


The end of 2013 will see the first ratchet of the new capital adequacy requirements with the minimum capital required increasing to £15,000 or 1 month’s expenditure. Furthermore, over the next two and half years, the minimum will increase to £20,000 or 3 months’ expenditure. There are also new requirements which could increase this figure if the PII cover held by the firm carries exclusions or excesses above £5,000. For many medium sized DA firms this will present a genuine dilemma.

Only in March, LIFT Financial reported that they would be forced to concentrate on their self-employed arm rather than grow their employed, fee-based practice as their capital requirement could increase to £750,000 over the next 2½ years. Surely, the exact reverse of what the change to capital rules was intended to achieve.

For a firm with £1,000,000 turnover and fixed costs of £800,000, an additional £190,000 will be needed over the next 30 months.

The three Rs of a network’s priorities


Retention. Relationships. Risk Management.

Building quality, lasting relationships takes time and effort. This investment at the start of the relationship pays dividends in the long run; it builds trust and understanding. Provided the service quality is there (and at the right price), this is a good recipe for networks retaining their members.

So knowing all this, what message does a network with a high turnover of ARs send?

Looking over the figures compiled by Which Network, showing the total ARs (including gains and losses) at each of the networks, it struck me that the focus for networks has to be retention.

Awards: Who cares?


My earliest recollection of winning an award was getting 2nd place in the Egg and Spoon race at the school Sports Day aged 8. I wore that blue sash with such pride with no awareness that it would seem faintly ridiculous 44 years later.

History is littered with evidence of the extraordinary things that individuals have done for recognition. I read a fantastic book recently on the history of the Victoria Cross. The feats of bravery are so incredible that it beggars belief that our country should choose to reward them only with a dull, bronze cross forged from an old Crimean War cannon.

An Olympic Gold medal of the 2012 Games contains 1.34% gold but has incalculable value and prestige. The winner’s medals from the World Cup in 1966 are greatly sought after and, in 2010, Nobby Stiles’ medal was sold for £184,500.

Jessops, HMV and Blockbuster – who next…?


The latest casualties on the high street make for gloomy media coverage, victims of challenging times in an under-pressure retail world. Speculation as to who may be next has taken up a good few column inches recently, together with ‘retail sales fall over Christmas’ headlines.

The real story here surely isn’t the prevailing economic conditions. It’s the abject failure of such businesses to evolve and adapt – Darwin strikes again, so to speak. Streaming movies and music downloads have pushed those renting and selling CDs and DVDs towards extinction for some time. Those in the market for new cameras might have popped into Jessops to decide what to buy, but the cash has been going to ‘megacheapcameras.com’ and the all-pervasive smartphones.

Did anyone post increased sales figures this Christmas? Well, yes.