Jan 25

Making a difference

As a financial planner, many of you will know that your decision to take that career path was based on the fact you are one of those people. Much of the Financial Services Industry is, strangely enough, peopled by individuals who are not that gregarious or blessed with people skills. We are, however, on the front line!

But, boy, what a front line! Ours is a world apart from the rest and I personally love it. Where else can you actually meet with people and have an almost immediate impact on their lives, even if it is just to redraft their will correctly? We have the skills to make a difference and it is a real pleasure to do exactly that, whenever possible.

I am extremely proud of being the chairman of an efficient and growing company that was specifically established to look after private clients. Its ethos is rather like many other brokers we meet in this arena. The client comes first before anything else. To listen to the guys talk of their passion and regard for their clients is extremely awe-inspiring and one always knows that these clients will receive total care and constant attention.

I met a fellow the other day and all I can say is that if that guy represents the future of South African IFAs, we are in very good hands. It is great when you meet younger people coming into our profession, bringing intelligence, education and a commitment to client service. The bloke’s name was Shawn (so now he knows who I mean) and I take my hat off to him.

On a slightly different note, I was asked the other day by a friend how a broker or financial advisor knows when his client base is happy and satisfied with what we are delivering to them. Well, in a nutshell, I suppose the acid tests would be: Am I losing any clients? No. Am I receiving good numbers of referrals? Well, yes. Being in that lucky position, I feel confident that what we are doing is correct and the clients are happy, however, a strong and healthy stock market is as powerful to us as a buoyant property market is to an estate agent.

The point is always to keep a sense of reality on what you are delivering to the client, as in the long run that makes for a far healthier relationship. The old adage of never promising future returns, and always reminding the client that even YOUR OWN stunning past performance is no indication of what they are likely to receive in the future, is a great protector of both parties and a reality check for all.

The best Financial Planner, IFA or Broker (whatever your preferred term) keeps his or her clients grounded. Never overselling their ability and always relating any investment return to what is occurring in the market as a whole. Doing this means that when the rainy days arrive and they always do, the client can appreciate the hard work you do for them at all times and also that to achieve any positive return in a bad market is just as impressive as 45% in a cooking market.

Finally, I would personally like to thank the group IFAs that I have had the pleasure to talk to and debate issues with during the last two months. There are some really great people out there and it is wonderful to meet other Financial Planners who realise that it is such a big market that we do not need to resort to petty, child-like point scoring.

Working together we can raise the general perception of the IFA and Financial Planner and we can show that service and genuine care for our clients are at the front of our minds. I wish you a great Easter and look forward to the next edition of Blue Chip.

Having walked the earth for a mere 43 years, there is actually not much that I know about anything! There is, however, one fact that I know to be totally irrefutable, people like people who like people.

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