One of the difficulties we face as a boutique firm is how to market what we do.
I’ve always held the view that in financial services it is always better to have a client come to you via a referral network rather than an advertising campaign. A referral tells you two things at once:
– There is a client who has an immediate need and you have proven in the past you can help
– The referring party trusts you
To create this network takes time and consistent effort. I was never comfortable in attending networking events as a room full of professionals all talking at once made me uneasy. I am not usually the loudest person in a room, preferring to listen and take in what is happening. This doesn’t lend itself to a format that requires you to be more outspoken.
My entire career I have spoken with accountants and solicitors in a one on one capacity to inform them of the rules for pension planning and wider financial planning matters. I always find that this is more interesting (as I can talk about pensions and finance all day long) and I have always been invited back by the other party to continue the discussion on another day. In the early days this involved me cold calling professionals and asking for half an hour of their time to sit down with me. Not easy as every professional’s time is precious and successful individuals are ordinarily the hardest to get in front of.
My ‘pitch’ to win these meetings was to say “I am a pensions specialist, looking to meet professionals who would like to discuss long term tax efficient savings.” As a modern-day marketing strategy this is pretty dry and I dare say could use a revamp, but it usually peaked enough interest to secure a meeting. The objective of the first meeting was then to be invited back.
In my half an hour slot I would run through using a pen and pad the latest pension rules (they do constantly change) and then I illustrated a few examples of how pensions fit in the everyday long term retirement planning for their typical clients.
This is very much my skillset still with most of my clients coming to me for long term investment planning, to usually meet an income need in retirement. Many come from a starting point of having been members of employment based pension schemes their working careers and now they are entering their final years of employment and need to both maximise these years and the accumulated pension pots. For me, this is ground well-trodden over 20 years as a pension specialist and I still love the background review work when meeting a new client to understand how they have accumulated their capital and what the individual rules of each pension pot mean to them.
Over 20 years I have met some very interesting professionals who have referred their clients to me and in turn they have become clients themselves. For me there is no better feeling than someone both trusting you with their retirement and that of their friends / clients.
Under WKM we have continued our ethos of working closely with the other professional advisers of our clients to deliver our retirement planning advice. Many of my client meetings now have a meeting with their accountant scheduled to discuss the client planning we are proposing.
No stone is left unturned when you adopt this four eyes approach.
Coupled with our bespoke investment management, these are our two most important services to clients.
Putting together a sales and marketing strategy for WKM quite simply starts with some key messages:
- Happy clients are our best marketing strategy
- Looking after our staff will increase client happiness
- Educating our referring professionals is an important part of who we are and what we enjoy
- Consistency in all we do is paramount
Thanks for reading