Network. Now there is a word that can have a lot of different meanings in our profession, and over the past few years I think I have done them all.
There is the obvious network as a business support provider where they provide you with compliance support, IT, training, professional indemnity cover, systems and processes in return for a cut of your business income.
You also accept their systems and processes, their restrictions on the way you might want to do business, up to and including possibly offering restricted advice.
Then we have business networking, be it BNI, 4Networking, Chamber of Commerce, FoSB or a host of other local business clubs.
The idea is you pitch your wares to others in the room and hopefully they seek you out for their own purposes, as well as refer you to people they know.
I did this in my early days and got some good clients from it. I also got a lot of help and advice with starting and running my own business, as well as suppliers I needed for my business.
It is not for everyone, but do not knock it until you have tried it.
It also helped me start to build my professional network so I now have a couple of solicitors I can refer to, a few accountants, a wills and probate specialist, a mortgage adviser and now an equity release adviser as well.
We all help each other with questions and knowledge and I am happy to refer clients to them, and them to me, to fill in the bits of planning I cannot or do not want to do.
Lastly my network of peers. Some built by meeting people at events and conferences but mostly through social media, often then backed with a meeting in person later.
I now know a large cohort of fantastic advisers all over the country I can speak to and get help and ideas from and share best practice tips.
Likewise I am more than happy to help and share back with pretty much anyone desperate enough to ask me.
This is the best network of all, and the best bit of our profession – our willingness to help each other be better; be better for our clients and be better businesses.
Darren Cooke is a chartered financial planner at Red Circle Financial Planning