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Jay Financial – targeting the SME market

Jackie Fancourt joined her father’s business in 1997 to help with administration and in 2002 qualified as an IFA, allowing her father to retire. The company was renamed Jay Financial in 2006, and specialises in offering advice to the SME sector. Jackie talks to Adviser Business Review about the benefits and challenges of working with other businesses and how auto-enrolment has helped transform her business

Adviser Business Review: What made you decide to focus on advising businesses?

Jackie Fancourt: My father was known locally as the SSAS expert – that was his area of expertise so it was a natural progression for me to follow in his footsteps and work closely with business owners and directors. Working with businesses suits my personality and strengths; I enjoy the direct and straightforward approach. I don’t come from a sales background and the advice I give is based on very logical thinking which suits the type of client I have.

I currently offer regular, ongoing advice to 35 clients and that is split between businesses and individuals, however my private clients have all been generated through the businesses I work with, either as a client who has gone on to retire or a current employee of a business I advise.

My clients are spread all across the country; I have a pocket of people in North Wales, as well as Cheshire, Shropshire, Newcastle, Derbyshire and Milton Keynes. It’s fair to say I’m happy to follow my clients wherever they decide to move to!

ABR: What are the benefits and challenges of advising businesses?

JF: One of the key benefits is longevity. Private clients pay a fixed fee, but there is always the danger they may not understand the value or look to go somewhere else. I find businesses tend to have a better understanding of the value they are receiving and they rarely move on. I have never lost a client to someone else; those who have left have done so as a result of going under. I would also say working with that part of the market is more profitable for me and less demanding than private clients.

Businesses tend to have a better understanding of the charging process too; I think there is still some expectation among private individuals that they can have a free review. I will do a free telephone consultation at the very start, but within that phone call I will set out future fees so there’s no confusion. I know some advisers offer free chats as a means of prospecting, but I consider that a very inefficient way of operating.

The biggest challenge, however, is bringing on new business. Private clients often approach advisers with a query, simply because they have come across their website, but with businesses you need to actively target them.

ABR: Has auto-enrolment helped you to generate new business?

JF: I set out to use auto-enrolment as a means of getting in front of companies. I wasn’t interested in auto-enrolment per se but it has evolved into a huge and very important area for us. I originally targeted the larger businesses, simply because of the nature of the staging process, and positioned Jay Financial as an independent pensions consultant for their company, but I’m now looking at smaller businesses too.

For the past year I have run one-day workshops for employers to attend and learn about auto-enrolment and what it means for their business. The workshops evolved from discussions I had with businesses I visited – often the owners asked me how they could do it themselves and I realised there was a need for some sort of training. By the time they leave the workshop, they will be armed with all the knowledge they need as well as having set up a NEST account. I only allow a maximum of six businesses to attend each workshop, as they are very interactive and hands-on. I have brought on one IFA, two accountants and one HR professional who will run the workshops. I was very careful to choose individuals who have a real interest in auto-enrolment and a desire to get under the skin of it.

ABR: What challenges do you face as a small business operating within the financial advice market?

JF: Running a business in its entirety is extremely time-consuming, irrespective of the industry, but the regulation and processes within financial advice make it even more so. Whether I have one adviser or 100 really makes little difference – the processes still have to be put in place. Regulation, and the demands that come with it, is certainly the biggest burden on our business.

I work alongside one other appointed representative and two administrators but a lot of our business is outsourced. I have help with marketing, event organisation, social media campaigns, compliance and report writing and research if and when we need it. For me, outsourcing really works and I would say it’s a very helpful tool for small businesses like mine that have a lot to contend with.

ABR: How important is technology for a small business?

JF: We pride ourselves on using the most sophisticated technology and it’s extremely important to us that our clients receive the very best we can offer. We use the Client Care Desk back-office system and make full use of its resources. It allows us to produce very in-depth and high quality annual reports for our clients. We use SimplyBiz to help us with our compliance needs and that provides access to Dynamic Planner and risk planning tools. On top of that, I made the decision to store everything on the cloud, which is an expense, but means that we are paperless. I find it so much more efficient and it gives us peace of mind that important documents are stored safely.

ABR: What are your plans for the future?

I would like my profile to grow within the local area and for Jay Financial to continue to gain a reputation among businesses for the work we do. In September, we will host our first retirement information event and I hope that gains traction and grows going forwards. On a personal level, I would like to buy my office building so we have that security as a business and I want my team to feel happy and enjoy what they’re doing.

Visit Jay Financial website

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