There’s a lot to be optimistic about in the financial planning profession at the moment when it comes to financial planning businesses.
We are seeing a great amount of entrepreneurship, passion and innovation blasting its way through and bringing our profession forward.
If I were to ask you to think of what a ‘traditional’ financial planning business would look like, I can probably pre-empt the answers that you would give. A word cloud from the answers may include words like ‘hidden’, ‘stuffy’ and ‘salesy’. Oh, and suspended ceilings.
But, what does a ‘modern’ financial planning business look like? Here, we outline some traits of financial planning firms we speak to that we think define that term.
Focus on client experience and communication
For an unacceptable amount of time (and in some cases still today) we have seen client experience in financial advice firms mean a once-a-year drop-in to check everything is going OK. Sometimes this is just a telephone call every two years.
Financial planning is a highly valuable, prestige service that, let’s be honest, is on the expensive end. Modern clients, from what we’ve seen, expect better client experience and more open lines of communication.
The best financial planning firms that are breaking the mould today see clients as true assets (not simply financial ones) and are creating a ‘community’ out of their clients rather than building a ‘client bank’.
This shows in the stats. We’ve been surveying business leaders of financial planning firms how often they communicate with their clients, and just 15 per cent of them communicate with them once a year. A comparatively huge 37 per cent of them communicate with their clients every month.
The benefits of creating a better client experience and having stronger communication are endless, but the biggest boons are more referrals, deeper relationships, and happier clients.
We did a poll on our social media recently on whether or not it is good to discuss your fees publicly. After hundreds of votes, 81.6 per cent of them said ‘yes’.
If we imagine asking this question 20 years ago, do we think the answer would be the same?
Being transparent around what we charge is now almost wholly accepted in modern financial planning businesses. A lot of firms display their charges clearly on their website, and are happy to explain them to prospective and existing clients.
Running a transparent financial planning business is, of course, heavily influenced by our highly regulated industry. The smoke and mirrors seem to have disappeared and this is another nod towards a true profession.
This doesn’t end there, though. It is trickling down into culture and even dress codes.
We have seen a lot of great financial planning businesses introducing fantastic employee wellbeing schemes, safe spaces, four-day weeks, remote working methods, and much, much more.