On the face of it, the development of professional partnerships for IFAs seems like the proverbial n...
On the face of it, the development of professional partnerships for IFAs seems like the proverbial no-brainer. Just think about the benefits: good flow of introductions; immediate credibility of being referred by a trusted professional adviser; good-size cases.
Therein lies part of the problem: many IFAs only think about the benefits. The reality is tougher ' much tougher. Let's dwell on the hurdles: who to speak to? gate-keepers, the time to develop mutual trust, what makes you different? have you got the will to battle through the courtship? Those are all issues let alone getting down to the nitty-gritty of truly understanding each other and getting on at the individual as well as corporate level.
I've always been hugely grateful to Robin Threadgold at Fidelity for introducing me to the Acquisition/ Development/Retention model of relationship management. The idea is pretty simple:
• Acquisition ' you attract whatever your target group is
• Development ' you develop the relationship(s)
• Retention ' which leads to retaining the target group
What you do and how you do it is up to you but the principle can be used far and wide.It focuses on different but common aspects of relationships: their long term nature, the fact you need to work at it, the fact you won't get retention if you don't develop and nurture the relationship first, and the all important point, don't take the relationship for granted.
If this is beginning to sound a bit like a courtship and possible marriage; that's because it is. And like all relationships, be prepared for it to go through its good times and its bad times.
If you're expecting to roll up your possible professional introducer and tell them your story, think again. They've probably heard it all before and get approached all the time. The big question is: 'What makes us different?' It's worth thinking about your USP(s) ' unique selling proposition ' and making an impact with your initial approach: You're only likely to get one shot at it, so you've got to make it a good one.This is where homework comes in. Find out about the firm and its people. Websites are a great place to start to dig up clues regarding common ground and hot spots.
There are important clues as to whether you have the necessary skill set, personalities, knowledge, experience, size and confidence to get to square one¦or not.
It's worth remembering that the individuals you'll be speaking to are intelligent and have more than a passing knowledge of financial services. It's just possible that they may know more than you in certain areas so don't bluff.
They'll have their own areas of expertise and specialisation and will forgive you if you don't know everything about everything. You won't be forgiven for over-promising and under-delivering. You'll probably only get one bite at the cherry so it's important to get it right. Setting service standards is a good starting point. Find out what's expected of you: be available; return calls and emails quickly; who else can enhance the relationship?; don't bombard them with information or try to bore them into submission.
Fund managers moving and a change in critical illness rates are unlikely to get their juices flowing.
Providing ideas as to how their clients can save money by remortgaging, changing pensions, re-broking life cover, or moving to a better deposit rate just might do the trick. Finally, find out how they'd like to be remunerated for entrusting their clients to you. Most professional partnerships these days are happier with reciprocal work rather than a split of commissions or fees.
Like establishing most relationships, it isn't easy. If it was, someone else would have done it long ago. Think about it, plan it¦ and keep at it.
Graham Hooper, sales and marketing director at Holden Meehan
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