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Profile: ‘I believe smaller firms can give better service’

Gretchen Betts of Broadway Financial Planning, talks to Adviser Business Review about her decision to move to a smaller firm, her passion to help women understand their finances, and her belief that the industry will have to adapt to meet the advice gap

Adviser Business Review: What led you to join Broadway Financial Planning in 2015?

Gretchen Betts: I made a conscious decision to move to a smaller, more bespoke business where I felt I could offer clients the service and time they required. I previously worked for a much bigger firm and whilst this has its advantages in some ways, I believe that you provide a better, more bespoke service and cultivate more personal relationships with clients in a smaller firm.

You also have the flexibility to judge enquiries on a case-by-case basis and you’re not so tied by certain restrictions or minimum assets criteria, which means our scope to help a wider range of clients is greater.

ABR: Broadway Financial Planning is predominantly female, does this have an impact on the client you attract?

GB: I was partly attracted to Broadway for that reason. Financial advice is a very male-dominated industry, and I think women have a different level of empathy with clients.

I wouldn’t say it necessarily results in a higher number of female clients as we look after a wide range of individuals, evenly split between male and female, but if women feel more comfortable dealing with a female adviser then we have that to offer.

ABR: Who is your typical client and how have you grown your client base?

GB: Our clients generally fall into two categories. First is those already retired couples or widowers, who want to ensure their lifestyle can be maintained through their later years or who require advice because of a change in circumstances.

In the other camp are professionals upwards of 40. I think as you approach your 40’s, you start thinking more about the ‘bigger picture’ future. Your earlier years were likely to have been consumed with saving to buy a house and then affording the mortgage repayments, or starting a family, but you’re now at an age where you can focus your attention on what you want to achieve further down the line.

Interestingly, of the new clients we’ve recently gained, there has been a leaning towards female professionals.

As a new office, it’s still very early days and we are building our profile. I’m active on social media, which I think has an important role to play in broadening our reach and giving us a presence. It’s in my business plan to do more on that front, but so far we’ve found the greatest source of new business is referrals from existing clients, so our focus is on ensuring our current clients are happy and asking if they have anyone they feel might be suitable for us. If we can attract 12 new good quality clients a year, that would be fantastic.

ABR: Is advising women something you would like to specifically pursue?

GB: It isn’t a specific target for us, but I do think we need to help women take more control over their finances and have a greater understanding of their circumstances. Whatever your situation, it’s important to be financially savvy and know exactly what you’ve got and where you stand.

Among the older generations it certainly seems the man in the relationship has taken responsibility for the finances, but I have to say I’ve been surprised to see there remains a mentality among younger women that men will take charge.

I think also that, thanks to the baby boomer generation, in the future we will see more women in their 40s coming into an inheritance from their parents and suddenly finding that they’ve got a new source of income they need to take care of and want to look after for the future, rather than spend.

ABR: What excites you about the financial advice market at the moment?

GB: I’m very excited by pension planning as I think all the recent changes, both restrictions and opportunities, opens up a discussion, especially among younger generations.

As a firm, we are excited about the concept of empowering people to make better choices with their money. We don’t have a preference on male or female, it’s really about a belief in financial planning and the buzz of knowing you’re helping people achieve something for the future.

We are always on the lookout for interesting stories that our clients need to be aware of and as a firm, we look to offer clients top tips regularly and keep them up to date. I’m passionate about giving clients added value and a friendly, professional and highly personalised service and believe that this has to come from every member of staff.

ABR: How do you see the advice market evolving going forward?

GB: No matter what people say, you need younger clients to ensure the future of your business, but you also need to remain profitable so it’s about finding a balance.

I think that most firms will find that in the future they will need to think about offering a reduced service whereby financial planners can help them with their immediate needs but they don’t receive the level of service a more complex clients does, at least initially.

I do believe financial advice firms will need to change and adapt in order to meet the advice gap. I’m 37 and a lot of my peers fall into that gap; they could benefit from advice but are put off by the fees. I would hate to see the banks return to fill that gap so as an industry, we need to come together and come up with a solution.

Gretchen is blogging here and can be found on Twitter @planning_angel

Visit the Broadway Financial Planning website


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