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Are industry awards worth it?

We’re delighted to have been shortlisted for two awards. In the 2021 Money Marketing Awards, we’ve found ourselves in the Next Generation Advice Firm of the Year category. Meanwhile, Emma was shortlisted for Professional Adviser Paraplanner of the Year. 

Barnaby Cecil has only been established for a little over two years, it’s exciting to feel recognised for our commitment to doing things differently - even if some people argue that awards aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.

I can understand the argument. Some awards are costly to enter and even more expensive to attend. Not only can you end up spending thousands on a table, preparing for the event and taking time out from the business can cost you too! When there’s no guarantee if you’ll win or not, it’s easy to wonder whether it’s worth the drive to the venue, cost of the hotel and pressure to find a babysitter.

And yet, no matter what industry you’re in, being shortlisted for an award can be affirming. Winning it feels like recognition for all your hard work, dedication and commitment and a real stamp of approval from your peers. As we argue below, it’s also an opportunity to grow and learn.

Here are a few reasons we think industry awards can be worth the time investment, providing the awards themselves aren’t the driving force behind your innovation.

Seeing your business from a different perspective

While some award ceremonies are based on nominations, others involve an application process where you put yourself forward.

If you go down this route, it can be a great opportunity to really look at your company from an objective standpoint. You can’t help but try and see yourself from the perspective of the judges.

What makes us stand out? What do we do differently? Are we customer-service driven enough? Are we edgy enough? (Are we too edgy?!) These are just a few questions that went through our heads when we were crafting our application. Thinking this way can aid progression and growth.

Challenging the status quo

Entering awards is about constantly moving forward and challenging the status quo. “We’ve always done it this way” is a phrase that’s frustrated me throughout my career. 

Without innovation, progression and a willingness to take risks, there’s little to set you apart from your competitors.

It's much easier to sit back and get comfortable, but we think our clients expect more from us. No matter what you’re doing you can always find an extra 5% somewhere.

Entering an award called ‘next generation’ is a public declaration that you’re willing to try another way. I don’t think it means that we’re young, or we only advise younger clients. 

It means integrating technology in a way that brings efficiencies, offering clients different ways of communicating with us. It also means building an organisation that allows me to work just four days a week so I can take my boys to nursery (which also enables me to practise what I preach in terms of work/life balance).

Learning from others

Award ceremonies can be excellent networking opportunities and a way to learn from others. This might be the one and only chance you get to speak to people at the same stage and with a similar approach to you, so it’s a chance to share notes and take inspiration.

It’s also a rare chance to get dressed up and celebrate with the team and others. 

An opportunity to attract new clients

We’ve noticed an increase in visitors to our website as a direct result of announcing we’re nominated for an award, so it can’t be denied that winning awards can be good for business. 

It certainly enables you to set yourself apart, it’s also a short-hand way of making an impression with potential collaborators. 

However when businesses make awards their number one priority, standards can slip. If ticking all the boxes for an entry submission becomes your guiding light, then it can be easy to lose sight of your true objectives. And who’s to say that the things that win awards are the things clients really want?

That’s why from the start of our journey we’ve always said we’ll ask our clients what they’d like from our business and what they think it takes to create a world class service. We’re not here to make a quick buck, we’re here for the long haul, and to create something that provides a premium service to exceptional people.

If we’re recognised for that externally, all the better. But it’s what you, not the industry thinks that really matters to us. 

We’re currently working on an annual client census to gauge how you feel about the service we provide and how we can make Barnaby Cecil the best financial planning firm there is. So stay tuned for that, as much as for the award results themselves!

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