In this series, we’ve been asking financial advisers to share what they’ve learnt from building their successful businesses.
Here’s Carolyn Gowen, Branch Principal at Bloomsbury Wealth in the UK.
Who has had the biggest impact on your professional development, and why?
Mark Horstman of Manager Tools (MT). Learning about the technical aspects of planning is one thing; learning how to manage a team of people is a whole other skill set, and no one teaches you how to manage a team of people.
The clear, actionable guidance from MT which Robert and I have implemented across the firm has revolutionised our business and made us significantly more effective than we were three years ago.
For you, what is the most valuable thing a financial adviser can offer?
Clarity, peace of mind, a sense of security.
What has been your biggest regret as an adviser or business owner?
The period of years when I stopped seeing clients.
Which decision has had the most positive impact on the growth of your business?
Not relying on one person to be ‘front of house’. We’re in the people business, and one personality type is never going to gel with everyone who enquires about our services. We now match enquirers with the person we think they will best connect with.
What is the biggest mistake that business owners make in building a successful advice firm?
Where to begin? I think we’ve made them all! I think what the last three years in particular have taught me is that you absolutely have to have the right people on the bus. We made the mistake of not addressing that issue soon enough, and having people in the team who were not right for us. ‘Putting up’ with that definitely held us back.
Should traditional advisers view robo advice as a threat, an opportunity, or both?
An opportunity. Compared to the US, UK planners are not very well served by technology. The advance of robo advice should go some way to addressing that. My hope is that we can leverage that technology to improve our own back office systems, enabling us to spend more time on the things that clients value - something which no robot can ever replace.
What sort of content do you share online, and which has been the most effective?
We have a weekly blog, we have produced a number of guides, and make as many resources (briefing notes, white papers, links to planning tools) available as we can to help attract and educate our target market.
Funnily enough, the most effective content is the Friday email I send out to our clients, which I started doing about six months ago. It’s a roundup of links to things that have caught my eye during the week, a bit like Abnormal Returns, or Monevator’s Saturday roundup, although not all of the links are related to investment.
One client described it recently as ‘an eclectic mix’, which I think sums it up very well. It is definitely the single most commented on content we produce by a huge margin, so as an engagement tool it’s absolutely the most effective.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned from your professional use of social media?
It’s a long, slow burn. Producing content religiously week in week out is time consuming, but it’s important to be consistent and to keep going.
What do you expect to be the biggest change in the advice profession over the next 20 years?
We’ll continue to see the impact of costs being discussed and I hope that the information reaches a wider audience. The rise of robo advice will hopefully get more people thinking about the need to have a financial plan, and I’d like to think that 20 years from now basic financial education would form part of the state school curriculum. People need to know this stuff!
What is the one piece of advice you would give to someone starting out as an adviser today?
Epictetus — 'We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.'