Here is a question I believe a lot of advisers would like to ask providers: if you could see and experience the world through our eyes – and you really cared – what would you do?
The answer, and how they feel about what is required to make it happen, is a simple test of their commitment to excellence. Consistently showing up and delivering in the areas that really matter. Excellence cuts through the mire of bureaucracy, status quo, regulation and excuses, and asks a simple question: what would you do if you knew?
But, as I say, the pre-requisite is caring. As marketing entrepreneur Seth Godin recently noted, can you imagine seeing a sign like this hanging in a corporate office – “We have an unfair advantage: we care more”?
This is relevant against the backdrop of the rising importance of help with things such as the generation of business ideas and practice development. Mostly because they are hard. Hard to create, to resource and to deliver. And hard things tend not to get done unless someone cares an awful lot.
These things are easy to promise and difficult to do. But if providers promised and did them, the returns on that investment would be positively disproportionate, not least because most others will not stay the course.
More than any other skill or attitude, consistently demonstrating care is what keeps customers in any industry coming back. Advisers are no different.
"Excellence cuts through the mire of bureaucracy, status quo and regulation"
Mifid II and rules on inducements are shaking up the thinking of many providers in relation to what they do for advisers, including what support they deliver. And rightly so. What providers should spend their support budgets on is a big concern. But while some are looking at the burden of regulation as a convenient and plausible reason to cut back, this would be a mistake.
Support that results in the enhancement of the service provided to the client via better-informed and equipped advisers should always be permissible.
Recent research we have undertaken shows just how important business and technical supports are becoming as determinants of advisers’ provider and platform selection. But as demand has risen, provider delivery has plateaued at best. Which players will make the most of this opportunity? I will look at this topic a bit more next week.
Phil Wickenden is managing director at Cicero Research