Growing our business through niche targeting, sponsorship and seminars
A focus on company owners and sponsoring the local golf club is helping Andrew Day, director of Depledge Strategic Wealth Management, target a doubling of the firm’s size over the next few years. But there is more to do, he says
Adviser Business Review: What made you specialise in advising business directors and senior management professionals?
Andrew Day: I’ve been a financial adviser since 1999 and business owners and directors are primarily the client base I have worked with since the very beginning so it was a natural fit for me. I would say they’re the people who need the most advice and benefit from having a trusted and knowledgeable individual to advise them. They tend to have a pension bias and the introduction of the new pension freedoms have made planning for the future that much more complicated.
ABR: What impact have the pension freedoms had on your business?
AD: They’ve had an enormous impact in many ways, both in terms of new enquiries and existing clients. Let’s just say it hasn’t been a quiet period for us! We’ve had clients who have wanted to empty their pension pots and others who have seen more value in pensions and have wanted to increase theirs.
We’ve also received more enquiries, with a lot coming through Unbiased. Our approach with any new enquiry is to have a meeting. I find it much better to meet someone face-to-face to find out more about their financial situation and whether we are able to help them.
ABR: Who is your ideal client?
AD: My ideal client would be between 55 and 60 years of age, someone who has been financially prudent and created their own wealth. They’ve got to a point where they realise it is a complex task managing their finances and they need someone to offer advice on a disciplined and regular basis.
We don’t operate a minimum assets level as I think it would be foolhardy of us to turn people away if we could help them in some way, simply because they didn’t have a certain sum in the bank.
ABR: How have you built your client base?
AD: We were fortunate to start with a lot of long-term clients, and the majority of our new business comes through referrals from existing clients – be it friends, family or ex-colleagues. We also have four professional connections we use.
That said, we have explored ways of marketing the business to grow our client base and we currently sponsor High Legh Park golf club. The club has 600 members that we can send electronic advertising to, as well as an app which features our advert, so it helps us to keep our name fresh in people’s minds. There are 18 sponsors in total, each sponsoring a particular hole on the course, and we meet every couple of months to see how we can help and advise each other as businesses.
We are also holding our first joint seminar in November with a solicitor firm, focusing on planning in retirement, which we expect to have a good turnout. Seminars are something I always wanted to do, as I think they can be a fantastic way of bringing potential clients in. The first company I worked for received around 95% of their new business enquiries from seminars. Going forward, we would like to help companies hold seminars for their employees, offering information and advice about retirement.
ABR: How would you like to grow going forward?
AD: I brought on a new adviser, Michael, last year and the aim now is to increase his client base. He’s had great feedback so that’s my focus for the moment and as his client bank grows, so will his need for support. Looking further down the line, we would ideally want to grow to be a firm of three or four chartered financial planners, with around 200 clients each. I think that would be the optimum for a small firm and would still allow us to be flexible and react quickly to change.
In the 18 months since the business was founded, we’ve made great strides, but we do realise marketing is an area we need to focus on more heavily to help us to grow the business. Michael and I have a great deal of technical ability, but that doesn’t always lend itself to marketing so we need to consider our options.
ABR: Finally, where do you see the opportunities in the advice market?
AD: I think the lifetime allowance is a massive opportunity as so many people are sleepwalking into huge tax bills so there’s a real need for advice there. I also think business insurance is one to consider – things can go wrong and we unfortunately see the financial repercussions for those business owners who are underinsured, so that’s an area we feel needs highlighting.
Depledge Strategic Wealth Management
Business founded: January 2014
Total staff: 6 plus an IT consultant – two chartered financial planners and 4 support staff
Clients: 630 clients / 180 active clients
Assets under management: £77 million