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How client coaching created an ambassador for our business

In his fourth and last article in his series for ABR entitled Three Steps to Adviser Heaven, Chris Budd presents a real life example of how he put coaching into practice with a client and created an ambassador for his business

Case study: Meet Jill

Jill’s accountant had recommended that she meet with Ovation in order to make a pension contribution from her business to reduce corporation tax. She was at that time aged 56 and had been running her HR consultancy business for 17 years with her sister Sally, and Sally’s husband Keith. She was married to Pete and they each had two grown up children from previous marriages.

As Jill and Pete kept their finances separate, she came to see us on her own. She asked us to review some existing pensions as part of the exercise.

At the start of the initial meeting Jill explained that she had three existing insured pensions with total value of around £200k, each set up by a different adviser over the years. She was currently using the same man as her sister and husband in law, but now wanted to appoint her own IFA.

She thought her business was valued at £300k, making her third share worth £100k. She owned 5 properties with various mortgages, all within a limited company, but no mortgage on her own home.

Jill’s objectives

We asked Jill what she wanted out of this meeting. She explained that she planned to retire from the business when she reached the age of sixty. By that time she hoped her pension would be around £300k and several mortgages would be paid off.

She had come to see us because she wanted to know about investing her pension money more proactively, and how the new pension freedom rules might affect her.

It would have been very easy to provide a solution at this stage, to talk about SIPPs, our investment management service, and use our pension specialist status. I think we could have signed Jill up and provided her with Advice.

We could have undertaken some Planning first, perhaps suggested a cashflow forecast to see if the retirement at 60 was actually feasible, and then moved into Advice.

A few choice questions

Instead we continued to probe Jill’s world. We asked her what had been behind the decision to retire at 60. She explained that it was a number she had decided on many years ago because her father retired at 65 and died three years later. We nodded, but remained silent. After a few moments of awkwardness, Jill starting talking. And talking!

She started telling us about how stressed she was in the business. It seemed that this was mainly due to Keith, a very controlling character and prone to nasty comments if he didn’t get his own way. Whilst she loved her work, she hated every moment of going into the office.

She told us about her youngest daughter who had an autistic son whose father had absconded and how her daughter was now struggling to cope. It was breaking her heart and wished she could help.

We asked what her day might look like if she did stop work. She explained how Pete had retired six months earlier and wanted her to do more travel, but she couldn’t afford to and besides she didn’t want to stop working. We asked what she enjoyed about her working. She explained how her clients relied upon her to sort out difficult staff situations, they even called her ‘Auntie Jill’.

Whilst talking Jill had mentioned the words ‘reducing stress’ several times. We asked her what would need to happen for her stress to be reduced. She answered that not working with Keith would be a big step forward. We then asked what this would allow her to do going forward. She answered that spending time with her grandson to help her daughter would be high on the list, along with a few trips abroad with Pete – they particularly loved opera and wanted to travel around Italy watching concerts.

The real objectives

We asked Jill to describe the life that she would want now, bearing in mind the conversation thus far. She wasn’t sure of the point, as she knew she couldn’t afford it. We asked her to dream a little, to ignore the money for a moment.

Jill’s ideal life would involve leaving the business but still dealing with five of her favourite clients. This would take up four days a week, but those days would be flexible, not full time. It would give her around £30k pa. Her daughter could then move in with her and Jill would be around more to help her. She and Pete would do a city breaks once every other month.

We agreed that if these were her real objectives, then perhaps we should undertake some work to see if they would be achievable. We explained how Planning worked, and how Advice would then enable the plan to be achieved.

Conclusion

We held another meeting with Jill where we discussed her cashflow forecast and considered various scenarios. Keith turned out to be only too pleased to pay her £100k for her shares over 5 years to get control of the business. The forecast she settled on allowed her to achieve all of her new objectives. We put her in touch with a bespoke travel agent and ticketing agency we use to organise her and Pete’s next three trips.

The day after the meeting she resigned from the business. The following weekend she helped her daughter move in.

Jill has recommended us to many of her friends. She considers herself something of an ambassador for the business and always introduces us as ‘The people that helped me to retire’. Jill is still engaged by those five clients, but she doesn’t consider it to be work!

Chris Budd is managing director of Ovation Finance and is a Diploma qualified business coach.

Visit website on training coaching skills for advisers 

Go to Three Steps to Adviser Heaven Part 1: Coaching for advisers

Go to Three Steps to Adviser Heaven Part 2: How coaching can boost your practice

Go to Three Steps to Adviser Heaven Part 3: Coaching skills you can use in client meetings

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