Putting people at the centre
The daunting task of planning a business model across several jurisdictions was made simpler for Guardian Wealth Management thanks to its client-focused approach. Success comes from acknowledging the people behind the transactions.
The challenge of implementing a UK lifestyle financial planning model across different jurisdictions is not one to be undertaken lightly. We felt the fear and did it anyway. We wanted to provide the best possible advice for clients across the globe. It is not the smoothest path to take.
We set out on expansion without being hampered by any restrictions from the Retail Distribution Review because we have always seen ourselves as a financial planning business and have never really had purely transactional clients.
Our firmly held view is that this business is all about people. Any business, and particularly those working within financial services because at the end of the day money does matter, must build relationships.
Our business has grown from what can modestly be described as humble beginnings. We had a view of what we wanted to do, what we thought was possible and what we thought was the best way to get there.
The business strategy was in essence very simple and by the same terms very complicated. We now operate in several jurisdictions around the world but putting our clients at the heart of what we do is where we start from.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution and there is certainly no standard fit due to the differing restrictions and requirements of many jurisdictions.
Our view was that we should take the best and brightest advisers, train them and deploy into the right environment for them to grow and we will know that we have the best people advising our clients and creating business.
Our plan is to keep developing the business but essentially to ensure that at the core of our business proposition we have the very best certified financial planners in the business.
Support adds confidence
Another core part of our business strategy is to put the best possible paraplanning teams in place because if the advisers do not have the highest levels of support, everything falls over.
The more support you feel you have, the better confidence you have to provide the services your clients should, not just expect, but demand.
It is both fascinating and very challenging to prepare a business plan for a global business. One size quite clearly does not fit all and the varying regulations, legislation, tax laws and importantly culture all play a role in the most suitable route to best advice.
It all looks so straightforward when put down in a few bullet points, but with the right people, the right attitude and sheer hard work it can be reality for those that try hardest.
Five key business tips
Everyone should work on the business not in it. The US-based champion, of entrepreneurship Michael Gerber inspires millions to get the best out of themselves and their colleagues through his E-Myth series of motivational books. They are not all about finance, they are about attitudes to business. The E-Myth Optometrist and the E-Myth Chiropractor may at first glance, or touch, not appear to be among the bestselling business books in the world, but in those sectors he is up there with Warren Buffett.
A common failing is you have a virtual, shiny shop window, and behind it there is a virtual train crash. Every system must not just be in place and working well, but absolutely vital that they are integrated and working well together. IT, research, compliance and finance – no element is an island.
It goes without saying, so needless to say I am going to say it, the front office staff, the people who face the potential clients, must be trained to the highest level of both soft and technical skills. There is no point having a promotional budget if the opportunity with a new client is thrown away at the first hurdle.
It is easy to be positive, but so much easier to be negative. Stephen Covey has written whole books on the seven habits of successful people. But I shall be brief and give you a concise five. Be proactive, start with the end in mind, first things first, be understood before you understand and synergise.
Be very clear on your investment proposition and understand that whether in-sourced or outsourced, the source of the money will decide its final destination.