Charles Wootton, partner at Foster Denovo, shares a professional connection success story and offers his tips on how to achieve the same.
We operate in a highly competitive industry and the importance of providing the best levels of customer service cannot be underestimated. Clients need to feel valued and – more than ever before – they need to see that advisers have gone the extra mile. It is about being ‘RDR-proofed’ and providing clients with the highest levels of consultancy. Offering add-on services via referrals can often be a good way of achieving this.
For a long time, I had been looking for a good firm of solicitors to refer my clients to. About five years ago, a client came to me whose parents had sadly died within six months of each other. I referred him on to Chris Daynes, a partner at Streathers solicitors, to address the probate issues, and I was hugely impressed by the sensitivity he and his firm showed towards my client.
In fact, since then, Foster Denovo and Streathers have built up a strong referral relationship, and I have not looked back. We have passed on more than 40 pieces of work to the firm, and selected colleagues across our firm have also started to work with Streathers.
Circle of trust: the value of referral relationships
Built on trust
For me, the value is in the relationship we have built, and not in any financial arrangements made. My client relationships are built on trust and I therefore need to know I am referring them to other trusted, expert sources. It is about providing best practice in every area we operate – all to the benefit of the client.
Streathers now mentions us in its client brochures and Daynes regularly attends fund manager meetings we have set up, along with breakfast briefings and relevant RDR training. It is vital for the referral partner to have a deep understanding of the service you provide to clients.
For Daynes, the bread and butter of a private client solicitor’s work relates to wills, trusts, probate, powers of attorney and tax. “Very few of these areas can be satisfactorily dealt with in isolation. For instance, when writing a will for a client it will typically spark off a conversation about life protection, pensions or inheritance tax planning,” he says.
“It serves the client well (and therefore enhances our relationship with them) if we can introduce them to trusted IFAs to advise on these aspects. Reciprocally, Foster Denovo knows how we work and charge, and are able to recommend their clients to a safe pair of hands for legal advice, which in turn enhances their value.”
More to come
Through our professional connection with Streathers we have tested how a referral relationship can work, and – as a result – we are now exploring further relationships. For example, we are currently looking into a possible connection with a currency solutions provider.
I firmly believe that clients are offered the best levels of service by offering these third party relationships.
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Referrals: how to do it
Five tips for setting up and managing a good referral relationship:
• Do your due diligence. Check the service levels of the business you will be working with; are they compatible with yours?
• Make sure you address fees up front – do they fit with yours? Are you sure they won’t give clients a fright, or make it seem like you over-charge?
• Monitor the relationship on an ongoing basis and get feedback from your clients – are they happy with the service they receive from your referral partner?
• Make sure your referral partner is willing to understand and absorb details about your service offering, so they fully appreciate what you are trying to achieve on behalf of your clients.
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