Are you currently trying to recruit financial advisers?

If you are, I feel your pain… This is a really live issue for so many of you out there, and is proving a very difficult nut to crack. Your business has been growing strongly in recent years and there are now lots more clients that require an excellent service from you every year – but you are really struggling with the capacity to deliver to them. Hence you need more people, both to service existing clients and to bring in future new clients to continue your growth path.

But great advisers that are available (at the right price) are as rare as hen’s teeth. Here are a few thoughts on how you can position your business at the top of the queue to attract new talent, by identifying the sort of attributes that excellent people will be seeking.


Offer a competitive package

OK, the money is not everything… but it’s always going to be very close to the top of a potential new recruit’s list. Be creative with your package – look for ways that will attract and motivate people. This might be in bonus structures, additional employee benefits and make sure that their rewards are clearly aligned with the goals of your business.

Most excellent advisers will also want to see a path to gaining equity in your business. While this can be a tough pill to swallow for some business owners, if structured correctly it can work well for both parties. What you give away in business equity will be recouped many time over, if the route to gaining a share in the business is designed well. It will also help foster future loyalty to the business. And of course, giving them some ownership may also help with your own exit in time, by breeding your potential successor.


Show a clear career path

Good people want to grow, they’re not moving jobs just to coast along. They will want to progress within your business and will want to see opportunities that they can further their career. You might enable this through mentoring programmes, education support and executive coaching and by showing them a clear path to promotion, higher earnings and greater levels of responsibility.


Have a top class brand and proposition

There are some firms out there that hardly need to sell themselves. Potential recruits know they are top quality outfits before they’ve even met you. These firms have a trusted and visible brand presence, but we all know that this doesn’t happen by accident. It comes from careful brand building and maintaining an excellent and consistent presence as one of the leading businesses in the market.

Central to supporting a superior brand presence is your business proposition. If you want to attract the right candidates, you need to wow them with the quality of your proposition. This includes the services you offer, the tools you use, the processes and the technology within the business, the quality of communication to clients and the careful consideration of every touchpoint with your clients. These potential recruits want to see that their personal drive for excellence is mirrored by that off your business.


Offer a high degree of flexibility and control

Good people want to be left to get on with the job. They won’t want you looking over their shoulder at every stage, monitoring every last thing they do. They will look to you definitely for leadership, for a level of management, but if you are looking to constantly supervise them, this is probably not going to be for them.

They want to have a reasonable and realistic level of control over their own destiny and how they work, while you quite rightly will set out the parameters in which your business and they must operate. They will want a level of flexibility in how they work – again likely not seeking any more than what is reasonable. They want to be treated like an adult.


Great people are happy to be part of a team

While excellent advisers may do a lot of their work with clients alone, they recognise the benefits of being part of a successful team. They clearly see the benefits of collaboration, helping each other grow, having great sounding boards around them and having a bit of craic along the way!

So, it might be worth taking a step back before you rush off in search of the best candidates, thinking about the attributes that you might be looking for in them. Spend time thinking about your own business and how you can ensure it is the sort of place in which great people will want to work.

Get active in your partnerships

Developing a strong partnership with a professional introducer requires skill, patience and most of all – a lot of proactive effort. Yes, some relationships with the likes of accountants begin with a couple of clients being introduced to you, but this usually peters out if that ongoing commitment to keeping the partnership alive quietly falls away. So what are the key steps for you to go through in order to build durable and strong introducer relationships?


Develop your accountant value proposition

You may have done all of the work developing your client value proposition (CVP), but you’re not finished yet. After all, your CVP is the articulation of the value experienced by your clients, however you now need to be able to communicate the value experienced by accountants in dealing with you. Your CVP starts with understanding your clients and in a similar vein, your accountant proposition starts with understanding accountants; their challenges, the partnerships that they value, where you can provide services that they will truly value etc. If you can help them to solve the problems that they face every day, well then they will place enormous value on your services. So first of all, really understand their business, identify the areas within it where you can add value and then demonstrate that the way you will work with their clients will seriously enhance their own client relationships.


Communicate your value time and time again

You then need to get in front of the accountancy partners time and time again to remind them of the value that you can add and to get regular client referrals. There are many ways you can do this; here are a few examples;

  • Add the partners to your own communication programme: Connect with the partners on LinkedIn and also get their permission to be added to your newsletter subscriber list. Let them see the expertise and thought leadership that you have to offer.
  • Develop bespoke presentations: These are for the initial meeting with the partners and should focus very much on the role of the accountant and how you can assist them in their own role. Personalise each presentation to the role of the particular partner’s area of specialism – for example the presentation to the tax partner should focus on pension reliefs, tax efficient protection products and other tax angles that you can bring to the table. This shows knowledge, understanding and willingness to engage in their areas of challenge with their clients.
  • Case Studies: Prepare a number of case studies of innovative solutions that you’ve implemented and know are relevant to challenges that are typically faced by the accountant. Don’t leave them guessing as to how you can help, join the dots for them.
  • Briefings for partners: Keep the accountants briefed on issues within the life and pensions industry that they need to be aware of, but may not be that knowledgeable. This can be through email contacts, lunchtime meetings or other such channels.


Develop joint marketing activities

And then you need to also promote the accountancy firm and help their bottom line. First of all, refer clients to them whenever possible. If you give them new clients, they are certainly going to try harder to reciprocate. Then offer the accountant the opportunity to include guest posts in your newsletter. This gives the accountant welcome exposure to your clients. You can then look at hosting joint events to which you both bring clients, take a speaking slot to impress the guests, all of this with a view to both you and the accountant meeting the other’s clients and building new relationships.


Prove your value with clients

Of course the biggest barrier to accountants referring clients to you is fear. Fear that you will somehow mess up and as a result cause difficulties for the accountant with their client. So when they do take the leap and finally refer a client to you, it’s imperative that you do a good job (as you do) and then make sure the accountant is aware of it. How do you do this? You might seek a testimonial from the client, which you then share with the accountant. Alternatively you can email the client a few weeks after the end of your work with a short client satisfaction survey – again you will share the results with the accountant.


These are just a few thoughts on building profitable and lasting relationships with accountants. Build their trust, remove their fears, align yourself to their proposition and demonstrate your value time and time again. And then you will be well on the way to breaking the back of that search for new clients.


5 ways to increase your income in 2024

Times are good in general in the financial advice space. Most advisers are pretty much flat out, looking after your clients and building a better business. Growing your business remains front and centre for most of you, so here are five high-level areas that can help you achieve your growth goals. While some of the thoughts are not new, hopefully this piece will act as a reminder of areas that you just should never ignore.


1. Attract more customers

This is of course the most obvious way to grow, but often the most difficult as it is influenced by many moving parts; your own activity levels, the quality of your advice proposition and the number of referrals you get from satisfied customers, the consistency and quality of your ongoing client engagement processes, your networking and other client acquisition methods and all of your marketing activities. Having a loyal band of potential introducers (accountants etc.) is a crucial client acquisition element for many successful advisers.

Getting more customers is usually the sum of many activities. If I was pushed and had to pick one that we all can be guilty of not doing enough of? That would be to get out of your office and meet more people. Spending more face-to-face time with prospects and potential clients almost always results in greater numbers of new customers.


2. Review your proposition

Getting more customers is great. However this also creates new challenges in terms of minding these customers into the future. What if you could earn more ongoing income without increasing your customer numbers?

This is where your proposition comes in. There is huge benefit in regularly and critically evaluating your advice proposition. Is it strong enough? Are there more valuable services that you could offer, which would allow you charge more? Or are you delivering the right services to your customers, but they are simply not aware of them as a result of poor communication by you? If you can improve your proposition and your clients’ knowledge and engagement with it, can you charge more and comfortably justify doing so?

I suggest you take some time out to review your proposition and how you are communicating it. You may be pleasantly surprised when you actually visualise the depth of services that you offer and the value that you are adding.


3. Attract more assets

Financial advisers often tell me of the frustrating situation in which they are only managing a portion of a client’s assets. I struggle with this one to be honest… Yes I can understand that a client may think they are better off having a few advisers and not having all of their eggs in one basket. However, isn’t it the adviser’s job to manage the diversification challenge on behalf of the client?

This situation sometimes arises as a result of an adviser being happy to simply get a new client on board, even when they are only getting a portion of the client’s overall assets. But how can you advise the client properly when you are only partially informed? Surely this situation will result in a completely misaligned portfolio? And if you carry out future cashflow planning, this is rendered pretty meaningless if you don’t have full visibility. Even if you don’t manage the assets, you need full information about them.

Work on your script with clients where you know or suspect you are only advising on a portion of their assets. Your client needs to be crystal clear about the disadvantages of you not having full visibility of all assets.


4. Cross-selling opportunities are important for you and your clients

Sometimes it’s easier for an adviser to position himself or herself as an investment specialist or a retirement practitioner. But then sometimes as a result, the adviser can be reluctant to step outside of his or her specialist knowledge zone and advise in other important areas such as protection etc.

Yes of course you need to be confident in your capability to provide excellent advice in these other areas, but this is not really a stretch for many advisers. And it does not undermine your positioning as an expert in your main area of specialisation. Clients should expect and will be grateful that you are watching their back in these other critically important areas too.


5. Increase your rates

When did you last actually review your advice rates? I see enormous disparity between rates charged (particularly ongoing trail) by different advisers, often when there is little or no difference in their propositions.

Sometimes it’s a case of one adviser having set their rates ten years ago and not having revised these rates since then, while the other adviser ensures their rates fully reflect the value added and this keeps their business on a steady growth path. So is it time for you to look again at those rates you are charging – are you selling yourself short for the value that you’re delivering? This starts back though with your proposition – is this good enough to justify higher levels of trail?


These are just a few ways in which you can look to increase your income in 2024. The next step is to do some more detailed planning around each of them. The very best of luck.

Your role as a financial therapist

I really think the importance of the role that financial planners play in the lives of your clients cannot be highlighted enough… To think of your role solely in terms of products, investments and even financial plans simply doesn’t do it justice. Each of these are important, but in terms of the lifetime benefits that clients will get from dealing with you, they are simply the tangible means to bring your value into the open.

Where clients encounter the most value is in the psychological and emotional benefits they get from you in your role as their mentor, their guide and yes, their financial therapist. While it might not always be expressed in tangible results in the endless research we see about the value of working with a financial adviser, the benefits are irrefutable.

People want direction

We gain peace of mind when we have clarity in our direction of travel, or what we are trying to accomplish. Having goals in our life is healthy, giving us motivation and an aspiration to achieve. A good financial planner helps clients identify their goals in life and then gives them the roadmap to achieve them, in the form of a financial plan. This clarity of objectives gives clients direction, as opposed to the fog of uncertainty experienced by people who have no aspirations or idea about where they are going.

Advice conversations aid collaborative relationships

I wish I had a euro for every time an adviser has told me a story of a client in a meeting saying to their spouse something along the lines of, “I never knew that was important to you or you thought that!” Deep financial planning conversations will often uncover viewpoints and thoughts that have either not been considered, or which one partner has not openly articulated.

As these new perspectives are brought out into the open and addressed, they result in enriched and more collaborative discussions about money, and even life in general, into the future.

Clarity breeds confidence

In the most recent 2023 Value of Advice report from Brokers Ireland, 58% of people feel more confident and in control of their finances having accessed financial advice. You will find numerous other studies globally that back up these findings. Of course there are financial benefits of receiving advice, and hey, who doesn’t mind having a bit more money to invest or spend? And that is aside from the advice probably resulting in less tax being paid, better structured debt and greater lifetime income and wealth. Each of these are valuable and tangible benefits.

But the real magic comes from people gaining satisfaction and clarity about their financial situation, and from being in control. Knowing their money is being optimally managed, provides mental wellbeing. That gnawing uncertainty of not being in control and making poor money decisions is removed through sound financial advice.

People like to be listened to

This might sound obvious, but we all encounter situations in our lives where our voice is simply not heard. This might be at work, when dealing with a bank or sometimes in a medical situation. The so-called expert on the other side of the table isn’t really interested in what we think and is working from their own well-honed script.

The most effective financial planning conversations are those based on carefully crafted questions and deep listening by the adviser. This is where those hidden, key objectives or values are brought to the surface, which then become centrally embedded in the financial plan. Then the client really feels like they own the plan, that it is theirs and theirs only. So whether it’s about some mad dream the client might have, or gaining crystal clarity about their investment values and preferences, uncovering these can turn good meetings into life-changing conversations for the client.

Regular progress reminders reassure people

Regular review meetings provide ongoing reassurance to people. When reminded of where they started from, where they are trying to get to and where they are on that journey reinforces those positive vibes. We all like to see that we’re making progress in every area of our lives, whether that’s in relation to our career, our finances… or even our golf handicap.

So, do you think your role is as a financial expert? If that’s all you think, I respectfully suggest that you are seriously underselling yourself.