I have recently had the privilege of working with a financial adviser who has reminded me about the ...
I have recently had the privilege of working with a financial adviser who has reminded me about the core principles of what we can do for clients: quality and tailored advice that improves an individual's, or in this case an employer's, financial situation.
At Park Row, we now have more than 320 advisers nationwide. I am no longer a regulated IFA but, as head of business development, I was recently asked by one of our branch managers for input and support with two group scheme introductions he had received. I have to say it is the best fun I have had in a long time.
I joined Park Row in August last year. Since then, my time has largely been taken up with the sole focus of business profitability. This is a necessary evil if you are one of the intermediary firms listed on the Aim market. Looking at the bottom line so much of the time, it is easy to lose sight of the client services on which an advisory business should focus.
Park Row was listed for 12 months. The distractions of trying to create shareholder value in the small-cap sector and the vagaries of the being within a sector that is not understood by investors and analysts alike has had its frustrations. The support of Royal Liver, after it acquired us this year, gives us the security and backing to develop the advice, and therefore the client proposition, but with our independence as a business and as advisers protected. It is an exciting situation to be in. In a sector going through turmoil, we can concentrate on the business.
We can now focus on what we can do to improve what we already do for our customers and on opportunities to expand the services we can offer.
An IFA business is once again a great environment in which to be. I enjoy client facing activity, particularly from a communications and 'what else can we do for you' point of view, widening the services we can offer. Working with an adviser who really cares about what he does and his clients is invigorating.
I know there are lots of cynical people in financial services but I recommend anyone involved in a role that is not at the advice coalface to get out more. My enthusiasm for what we can do has been renewed.
It is about service and advice, a guiding hand and asking the right questions. This is particularly true when the client, individual or corporate has had negative experiences of poor products or owns an investment that has plummeted against all their expectations.
We need to get back to basics as an industry, offering solutions to financial issues and consumer concerns. Our navel gazing in respect of our firms and where they fit within the industry means we cannot do justice to our clients. Shareholder value does not by any formula equate to client value.
Our customer's lives adapt and their expectations change but provided we work with them to manage the financial aspects, we can offer everything they need. This is where we develop a long-term sustainable business for ourselves as individuals as well as for our firms, which should one day emerge as customer recognisable and valued brands. Therein lies the future of the financial services industry.
Jo Smith, head of business development, Park Row Group
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