While recording her first foray into opt-in letters, this instalment from the year-long diary being kept by 2014 AFA Adviser of the Year, Eleanor Dartnall, also documents Eleanor’s frustration with what she sees to be a lack of willingness on the part of some licensees to share with advisers the benefits of the expertise they have developed over time…
Fee Disclosure Statements and opt-in letters
It has been a while since I last put pen to my AOTY diary. Our clients had to come first, to say nothing of myriad end-of-financial-year tasks. July will be another busy month as we send out our Fee Disclosure Statements and, this year for the first time, our opt-in letters (renewal of existing service agreements). This introduces a whole new level of testing whether our service is delivering what the client wants.
The sending of regular emails to all our clients is having a positive result in terms of their understanding of financial events
The outcome of this process will provide an opportunity for each client to renegotiate their journey with us, and for us as advisers to establish whether or not we are helping our clients reach their financial and lifestyle goals. This is a much more time-consuming exercise than I had planned for, and of course there will be the need to follow-up with those clients who do not respond within the given time frame.
Staff/business strengths and weaknesses
Last month we finalised our business plan for the current financial year; we took this as an opportunity to set fresh goals for staff and business alike, and new budgets that include some tough new business targets for me. Our team took two days out of the office to prepare for setting our FY2016 goals. Together we reviewed 2015, acknowledging what we achieved and considering how we could have done even better. Each staff member related what they love doing most and what area they would like to focus on in our delivery of services for next year. As the business owner, this can be a confronting task, but the outcome was full of promise for the year ahead. Even more confronting was listing our strengths and weaknesses and agreeing on what points of improvement to focus on. The outcome of this retreat was an exciting and challenging map for each of us to follow into the year to come, with many new ideas and some financial goals to ensure we remain a viable and strong business committed to our client value proposition, which is simply to ‘Engage, Educate and Empower’…
Reassurance through communication
As the situation in Greece continues to play out and the market in China cools, we’ve seen the need to increase communication with our clients to reassure them and to offer them peace of mind about their own investment position. The sending of regular emails to all our clients is having a positive result in terms of their understanding of financial events and their ability to make decisions based on knowledge…
I had some push-back from dealer groups who believe their advisers’ ideas should remain with the dealer group
Are we sharing enough?
I mentioned in a previous post my feelings about advisers sharing ideas with one another. It came as no surprise that I had some push-back from dealer groups who believe their advisers’ ideas should remain with the dealer group; in other words, they see ideas and the way we deliver them as their intellectual property.
I’m concerned that as an industry we are currently suffering a poor reputation, albeit as a result of the actions of a very few poor planners. I feel strongly that one way to overcome this is to make a concerted effort to identify best practice for every task we undertake on the way to delivering sound advice. We can only achieve this if we share with one another. We will, as a result, build a strong reputation as an industry in which advisers all deliver sound advice in the best interests of the client. That doesn’t sound like sharing intellectual property to me – just common sense. My IP, if I have any, is the way in which I listen to my clients, how I engage with them and how I retain them. But then, I am more than happy to share how we do that as well.
We enjoyed having a group of advisers from two dealer groups in our office a week or two ago. They wanted to know how we, in my practice, educate our clients and how we deliver that all-important up-front advice – and, of course, I wanted to learn what they do. We all came away from that day with insight into how to approach some area of our business in a smarter and better way…
Everyone I share with teaches me something, which in turn improves my business. If we all undertook to share with just one other adviser, it would be one more step towards excellence in our industry…
As Eleanor’s journey continues throughout 2015, we will bring you more of her thoughts and ideas, focusing in particular on extracts from her diary that address issues common to many financial advisers.
Click on this link to read Eleanor’s monthly diaries in full.
Eleanor Dartnall is the 2014 AFA Adviser of the Year. She has performed a variety of roles within the banking and financial services industry over several decades and has been a financial adviser for the last 15 years. She commenced her own practice, Dartnall Advisers, in 2006.