Articles - The wealth management egg and spoon race

 By Shaun Sandiford, Business Development Director, AXA Wealth
 Shaun Sandiford reflects on the importance of taking a pause to reassess client’s needs and how your business can be best positioned to meet them.
 Whilst in the midst of the school holidays, many of us will be recalling our own childhood summers, the excitement felt at the end-of-term, and taking part in sports day. Today, many schools no longer have the three-legged race or even the famous egg and spoon race and I miss the revelry of these events! 
 I'm not sure how many IFAs have recently felt the euphoria of those end-of-term days, but many seem to be doing an egg and spoon race, with their businesses as the egg. Not in a bad way but with the long school holidays underway, it might be time to reduce our speed of travel and assess what we may do to improve our business’s balance. I have spoken with many IFAs about their ‘client avatar’, an expression I heard Abbie Tanner, managing director of A Business Innovation Limited, use to explain how she tailors her professional service and decisions to her chosen client type, Michael, if memory serves.
 Most of us can probably describe a Marks and Spencer’s customer, but not our own chosen client type. The other weighty decision is how to manage clients’ money.  The choice of passive versus active is not mutually exclusive for some, for others they are like oil and water. The best platforms will offer a broad range of options, by definition wide-ranging, all-encompassing and without bias or favour.  However, dashing too fast to make all of the ‘retail distribution review (RDR) preparedness’ decisions without taking stock along the way, could get IFAs across the RDR line, but having dropped their business ethos and profitability en route.
 I am also hearing about IFAs getting together to run their own ‘here’s what I’m doing, what do you think?’ sessions. There seems some mileage in getting a ‘sense check’ from a peer - when I was a new dad, I did this endlessly. There are some great people within our industry. Ask their opinion on RDR and business matters - the Personal Finance Society and the Institute of Financial Planning have this on tap.  But don’t forget your professional introducers, fund house partners and even clients who may have useful insights, especially if they have charged fees or have run their own businesses.
 In preparing for the RDR it’s not just about crossing the line in one piece, it’s more about after the race. Business plans for year one and two of the ‘RDR compliant’ practice will make interesting reading. We should all be planning for the first few months of the RDR not just the first few euphoric minutes after crossing the RDR line.
 The holiday weeks could be used to collect our thoughts and aspirations for the remainder of the year. Just as our kids finished their school year on a high, we should run a steady wealth management egg and spoon race, finishing with style and decorum.  RDR is not about speed, rather haste without dropping the egg.
 Shaun Sandiford, business development director, AXA Wealth

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