Jones Hill is aiming for business growth and 80% revenue from retained clients
Brian Hill, principle financial adviser at Jones Hill, joined the business in 2006 and since then has worked to turn it into a lifestyle financial planning firm. He tells Adviser Business Review how the business has evolved, his plan to help other advisers fulfill their potential and his future ambitions.
Adviser Business Review: How has the business evolved from IFA firm to lifestyle financial planning over the past 10 years?
Brian Hill: I joined the business in 2006, and quickly went on to qualify as an IFA. At that time, we were very product-driven, as were a lot of firms, but I had a wake-up call around four years ago when a mentor asked me why I did what I did for a living. I didn’t know the answer and in that moment, I questioned why I was doing this job. I wanted to give it all up but like many people I had a family to provide for so I made the decision to overhaul the business so that it would bring us greater joy and benefit our clients. We felt we needed to move beyond the traditional IFA practice to become a lifestyle financial planning firm. Now we view products as by-products of what we do, and our focus is totally upon client values and helping our clients achieve their dreams.
ABR: How have your clients reacted to the business changes?
BH: Our clients love and embrace the changes. Recently, five of them came to us to film video interviews which will be posted on our website and allow prospective clients to understand more about what we do, and we were very humbled that they would take time out of their lives to do that. I truly believe our change of focus has turned the business around and helped us develop both on a personal and professional level.
I have a client in his late 50s, who came to see me with very high blood pressure and had been advised to stop working. He wanted to make sure his wife would be looked after should something happen to him, so he turned up with all his documents but I put those to one side and instead, asked him to paint a picture of what he wanted his life to look like. Through those dreams we created a roadmap, taking away the burden of money worries. I’m pleased to say he’s achieved those goals and his blood pressure has dropped to a normal level – his wife actually came to us and thanked us for saving her husband.
That’s what’s important to us as a business and as individuals; we get a huge amount of joy from helping our clients get to where they want to go. Products have become incidental in the bigger picture.
ABR: How would you describe your typical client?
BH: Most of our clients are 50 plus and my specialism is ex-military. I used to be in the army and I find ex-military individuals are always very comfortable in my company because we share the same set of core values and those values never leave you. I apply what you could describe as a military-based process to my work and it appeals to that type of client. I’m always looking to engage more of those clients, either through recommendations or referrals from professional connections.
ABR: What opportunities do you see in the market?
BH: Rather than focus on legislation, we prefer to look for the opportunities internally and our attention is upon streamlining our business processes. As far as products are concerned, we don’t get overly excited because our drive is not product-based. We want to ensure that our business is process-driven and that every part of what we do is documented and reported. If a new person joins the team, we are in a position whereby we can give them a record of our processes and they can understand how the business works. It’s taken us two years to get to this point, but it’s been well worth it because it’s benefited us greatly.
We are fortunate in that we have a very switched on team and we work well together. Once a week we hold a two-minute meeting where we look at the previous week’s results and discuss what is ahead for the coming week and it works brilliantly in keeping everything running smoothly. Our staff has ownership and accountability, which means they don’t have to refer to me. I won’t be around forever, so it makes sense that we have a well-oiled machine to keep clients happy and help us become more business-like.
ABR: What are your plans for the future?
BH: We want to grow the business, increase the percentage of retained income and the number of financial advisers working for us. There are currently seven of us at Jones Hill, four of which are support staff. Every member of the team, including myself, is on a qualification process whereby we are continually learning and developing. My preference is to grow financial advisers from within the business, rather than employ from outside. We spend a lot of time nurturing our clients, delivering an ongoing service for them and in the next 18 months we would expect around 80% of our income to come from retained clients.
Because of the nature of the business and the changes we have undergone to get to where we are today, I would love to work with other financial advisers and help them fulfill their potential. I have been asked to become a coach for Smart Training Academy at their training days, which I’m really looking forward to as I’m testament to the difference a change in approach can make and the benefits of lifestyle financial planning.