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From plumbers to caterers: How one IFA is building referrals

A relatively new-to-market London-based IFA is casting the net far and wide in order to boost referrals, setting up networks with people working in disparate industries from plumbing through to printing and catering in an attempt to mutually grow business.

In an interview with FTAdviser to be published later today, Mark Dunning, sole practitioner of Oakland Financial Planning, said he relies heavily on referrals to grow his client base since his firm’s launch 18 months ago.

Along with an IFA ex-colleague, Mr Dunning, who previously worked as an adviser at Halifax prior to launching Oakland, has set up two groups of people from a variety of industries with the aim of mutually bringing in more business.

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He said: “The idea is to have a meeting where you have one person from each category at the meeting. It’s a membership, so you join for a year.

“Say you have 15-20 people around a table. You have one IFA there, one printer, one solicitor, one IT guy. We have a caterer there. All sorts.

“You go around the table and everyone spends say 60 seconds: they get up, they tell the group about the business. ‘Hi I’m Mark Dunning, this is my business, this is what I do, and these are the sorts of leads I’m looking for’.”

If anyone at the group has come across someone in need of a service, they pass on their contact info to the relevant member of the group.

“I went to a friend of mine’s business and he was going crazy because his IT system had shut down. I know I’ve got someone in that group that I can phone up straight away.”

Mr Dunning added that since most of his new business comes through referrals, these cross-industry networking groups are a fertile ground for new IFA businesses to grow their client books.

Raj Shah of Sheffield-based Blue Wealth also told FTAdviser about the breakfast business group he runs for a similar purpose.

Each Friday individuals from relevant sectors - a single specialist from each of the legal, accounting, mortgage and VAT tax planning fields - convene to talk business and refer clients where possible.

Mr Shah said about 60 or 70 per cent of his new business comes from this group.

The full interview with Mr Dunning will be published later today.