Watching friends, colleagues and clients struggle to get to grips with their finances was the inspir...
Watching friends, colleagues and clients struggle to get to grips with their finances was the inspiration behind husband and wife team Mark and Tracy Estcourt launching their Platinum Service in March 1996. Joint principals of London-based adviser firm Cavendish Young, the couple designed the service as a bespoke financial planning scheme targeting high net worth individuals.
The Platinum Service is paid for by way of a monthly retainer calculated on a time basis of £50 per hour for either 2.5 or five hours per month, with clients paying a regular standing order.
'The Service is very much based on trust, as in the beginning, the time debt is very much in the client's favour,' says Mark Estcourt. 'Some join the programme to deal with specific areas of their lives while some approach it more as a long-term proposition.'
Although clients are given the opportunity to cancel their standing order at any time within the first three months and receive a full refund, none have done so thus far. 'Many seem so relieved to pass over their problems to someone else that they leave our meetings in a mild state of euphoria,' says Estcourt.
Mark and Tracy Estcourt run the business alone as they believe high net worth clients enjoy such a level of personal contact. Moreover, the service is about dealing with administrative issues as much as giving actual advice to clients.
'We attribute more hours to new clients because they come to us with problems,' says Estcourt. 'So in the first three months, we would use around 20 hours to sort the business of these clients depending on their individual situation. We start making a profit in the fourth month, as we do not use so many hours.
'We achieve strong revenues as we tap into the high net worth individual market and deal with everything for them ' their investment, insurance and pension. In this way, we secure them for a long-term relationship as well. It is unlikely that another adviser would want to take on one of our clients because they would have to deal with more than they could handle.'
During his early career as an adviser, Estcourt could not understand why some of his better off clients were totally at sea with their personal finances ' a major factor behind the launching of the Platinum Service.
'We were also looking at how we could build longer-term relationships with clients,' says Tracy Estcourt, also a registered individual. 'We wanted something that would differentiate us from our competitors and add value to our clients, and hit on the idea of a service that basically takes over the management of all the financial elements many people are unwilling to confront themselves.'
Through Platinum, clients get a service that takes an initial snapshot of their financial and personal status and then sets a broad map towards a number of fiscal goals within predetermined milestones.
'Since we started the service, we have dealt with clients who did not believe they could find a way out of their self-induced financial labyrinth,' says Tracy Estcourt. 'One client turned up with supermarket bags full of receipts, Inland Revenue demands, unopened bank statements and unpaid bills most of which dated back seven years.'
After spending 12 months within the programme, this client has sorted out seven years' worth of outstanding tax, redecorated his home, has a much better relationship with his bank, has arranged a complex will and feels much more in control of his life.
'Having got him through the initial barrier of confronting the things that had built up over the years, we can now move into the more interesting phase of arranging his financial future,' she adds.
Any advisers thinking that this type of personal service may be the way forward for their own practice may be interested in some of the situations the Estcourts have faced in the past.
For example, Tracy Estcourt was recently asked by a client to organise his wedding, as he did not understand what the process was or even how to begin. 'We managed to get him booked into the Chelsea Registry Office at very short notice, and even gave him advice on what style and price of ring he should buy his fiancÃ©e,' she says.
For more details on Cavendish Young please visit the company's website, www.cavendishyoung.com, or call 020 7384 2754.
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