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Best of breed financial planning

Last month we asked you what a ‘world-class’ service meant to you. And we had some very interesting responses.

As you’d expect, what’s world-class to one person might not be to another. And sometimes what’s world-class is very simple, but what makes it valuable is that it’s hard to find.

The comments broadly fall into three themes:

Time – time is clearly a precious commodity, so services that help to save you time and speed up processes are key. Some of the feedback is about how useful it is to be able to communicate with us via WhatsApp. This might seem such a simple thing, but we’re happy to offer this as it’s secure and convenient for us too. It saves you having to open an email and compose a thoughtful message, when really all we need sometimes is a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.

Genuine personalisation – the words ‘tailored’ and ‘bespoke’ are now so common that true personalisation has to really mean something. Serving you your favourite brand of coffee in a meeting for example is a nice touch, but after a while is that really valuable? For our clients, genuine personalisation is being able to ask us to change things that make things easier for them, such as being able to see the ‘net’ amount on their account, when it’s currently only showing as ‘gross’. We can change things like this at the click of a button. We are saving personal preferences as we go along. Again, simple, but effective and truly bespoke.

Transparency – we know that in financial services clarity and simplicity is hard to find. It’s traditionally a complex industry that hides charges and terms in its small print. But one piece of feedback was that people like the fact that with us, there’s no conflict of interest and that we’re completely independent. This is helpful in terms of our messaging – we’ll be sure to include this point on our new website.

This feedback has been great for us to hear

Being able to collaborate with you and create the service you’re looking for is what Barnaby Cecil is all about. As we go through a period of expansion and evolution, we want to be the best of the best.

When Emma and I worked for a larger company we never had the opportunity to think like this. There was no time to think about if clients were happy, never mind ask them. Even if we had, it would have been almost impossible to implement any suggestions anyway.

It might seem valuable to people to use a well known brand name. The perception, from the logo, the shiny signage and thick stationery is that they provide added value.

But in our experience, that’s not necessarily the case. Or it’s not the value that you’ve talked about in your feedback anyway.

When you have a big brand, big costs, big salaries and 250 clients, everything has to be processed. There’s no room for personalisation or any opportunity to adapt. If there was, the machine wouldn’t run and the company wouldn’t make money.

This might have served clients well in the past when there was less choice or flexibility in what kind of financial service was available. But thanks to technology, there are ways and means of providing you with time-saving options, personalised reports and a more transparent, fairer service.

Serving just 45 families gives us more flexibility to do so

People might question whether we can provide the same resources as a big brand, but in fact we have more resources available, not less.

Our relatively small size enables us to be selective and nimble. As a result, we’ve researched the market and put in place several agreements with external partners which provide a ‘best of breed’ range of services. This includes a compliance department, a technical team and a marketing agency who are all on call for dynamic, responsive support when we need them. This allows us to scale up and down rather than commit to a full-time team which would necessitate certain business volumes to sustain.

Compare that to a large institution that might have several floors and a range of large teams, but none of whom have the time to help or provide anything additional to what’s prescribed.

Another advantage is that within the context of the pandemic, we’ve been able to operate just as efficiently as before. We work remotely and as digitally as possible and are in the process of digitising even more of these processes. We’re currently adapting our current WealthMap service to combine another piece of software to provide even more functionality.

We’re glad to be different, proud to be small, and confident that we’re set up in a way that means we can adapt and change to give you the service you deserve and value now and in the years to come.

We look forward to telling you more about our big plans next month.

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