The best service you can give

By: Michael Freedman
Partner
BpH Wealth Management

Aligning yourself with your clients’ best interests is paramount in the provision of the best service you can give. When a desire to help people comes first, the money will follow if you always do the right thing, says Michael Freedman.

I began my eighth decade, sixth in service, doing something I had never considered before. I, along with my team, asked 10 clients if they would be happy to be filmed for videos to appear on our website. All accepted the invitation without hesitation. Three of the 10 opting for a photo story rather than a video.

When I watched the videos and read the words for the first time, I filled up with immense pride. Some of these clients I have been serving for over thirty years. They became clients when I established BpH Wealth in 1984.

Some were friends to begin with, others have become friends over time. It is very pleasing to hear how my advice over many years has impacted on these clients’ lives and businesses. I also take great pride in the glowing reports about my colleagues helping individuals and families so well. The spontaneity and willingness of our clients
to help us tell our story took me completely by surprise.

Previously my background was as a Chartered Accountant in manufacturing and I ran a clothing business for many years. The problems encountered in this sort of work were varied and enormous, coming at me from every direction.

In my new role as a Financial Adviser in 1984, I was able to draw on this experience to help other business owners, not just in their business lives but their personal lives too.

I realised very early on, that what I really wanted to do was to help people with financial advice that I would be happy to receive myself or give to my mother.

It turns out that this was an extremely good core principle to have. Without any clients in 1984, I had to begin by cold calling. With a core purpose of selling experience and service rather than a financial product, I was never short of someone to talk to.

I believed that with my qualifications and experience, I could help people a great deal. Many were surprised with how helpful I could be. I just listened carefully to their needs and did everything I could to help them. I kept flexible, knowledgeable and was quick to respond. No one wants to ask a question about a financial matter and be kept waiting anywhere between three and six weeks for a response.

We adopted a fee approach very early on. We did not really like the concept of commission because it meant to help a client and be paid, you had to sell a product. It always seemed more logical to help clients by adding value to their circumstances. To do this by improving their returns, making their plans more comprehensive and more fitting with their lifestyles and to charge a fee for doing so.

Fee conversations have never been an issue. In one of our client videos, our client talks about some people questioning the cost of good advice. His response was, “You should think of the cost of bad advice!” If you always do the right thing, there will be no shortage of business to do.

I had planned to keep the business small but that didn’t really happen because my approach meant I was more than successful in attracting clients.

Now we are five financial advisers and 10 support staff, many of whom have been with the business for 20 – 30 years.

Our core business principle with our team has always been to pay well and to treat them as a work family. Just as with clients, it has always been really important to me to treat staff the way I would like to be treated myself.

A happy, well-respected and experienced team will always serve clients well. You will never lose out. The alternative may mean your staff looking elsewhere and you needing to spend more in recruitment and more time on training. It is rare to lose out paying people decent wages.

It’s also been important that we are all extremely well qualified. If you are affecting people’s lives so deeply by reorganising and advising on their financial affairs you should be fully equipped with the technical knowledge of how to deal with it.

It’s been a wonderful and productive journey creating something where we feel we have done the right thing for all our clients and the right thing for our team.

Valuing both clients and staff so highly creates value in itself.

Structure and process are important but not so important that they restrict you providing the best service you can give.

SOME SUGGESTIONS

Understand exactly what it is you are selling: a way of making clients lives better. This can never be a one size fits all approach.

Don’t let structure and process affect service levels.

Flexibility, knowledge and quick response times will always create value.

Think about the advice you give and the way you give it. Would you be happy to receive that advice yourself or give it to one of your family members?

Make sure your staff know they are as important as the clients you all serve.

Think about what receiving a five star service means to you. That means putting the client first at all times.

Work should be fun and you should enjoy who you work with.

If you don’t, do something else.


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