Red Circle is a one-adviser business: me, myself and I. I do have a part-time admin who comes into the office roughly once a week, as well as my wife, who handles the back office functions such as income reconciliation and submitting data to the Financial Conduct Authority’s reporting system Gabriel.
I set up under a network six years ago and became directly authorised four years ago.
As the sole adviser, I was responsible for everything from servicing existing clients, marketing, sourcing new clients, IT, systems and processes and compliance, to name a few.
I was also responsible for all the new client work, often called ‘onboarding’, although I personally hate that term.
I did all the research on existing plans and funds, the planning work, research on new plans and then wrote the reports. I prepared the file, obtained all the quotes and applications –the whole lot. It nearly broke me.
Around two years ago it became too much, I either had to stop taking new clients or get help. I had always resisted that because, well, I am a control freak. I had always done all the work and I did not want to give it up.
So, reluctantly, I sought out a paraplanner and started to outsource that part of work. It is now more than 18 months later and I cannot imagine going back; I am a convert.
Working with a good paraplanner has been a revelation. I have more time to work with clients and focus on other aspects of the business. The quality of the files and reports has improved and thus the end product the client receives is better too. I also have more time for myself and my family.
We work in a collaborative manner; I will have initial thoughts on the planning work we should undertake for the client and the products/funds that will be appropriate, but they are free to challenge me if they think I am wrong, have missed something or there is simply a better option.
We discuss every new client in detail, and that alone – having another qualified person to discuss things with – has been a huge benefit to me. Two pairs of eyes on a case are better than one.
So if you are a small advice business, I would urge you to do the same. Focus on tasks you do best, or the ones you simply cannot give away, then outsource the rest or pass away in-house.
It will benefit you, your business and your clients.
Darren Cooke is a chartered financial planner at Red Circle