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Sitting next to Rory Percival at the recent WOWW! Workshop…

Rory Percival of the FCA recently attended Michelle Hoskin’s WOWW! Workshop in London to learn more about adviser businesses’ thinking and operations and that can only be a good thing, suggests ABR editor Rob Kingsbury

Sitting next to Rory Percival, Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) technical specialist, at the recent WOWW! Workshop presented by Michelle Hoskin, founder of Standards International, there were some clear insights into the regulator’s thinking and why Percival is now noticeably a more regular attendee at adviser events.

Hoskin’s workshop is aimed at firms looking to not only ensure best practice within their businesses but to develop an outstanding business culture and service to clients.

Journalists in the room were requested not to quote Percival in the discussion sessions in order that, as the day required, those sessions could be free flowing and open from everyone in the room. But he did agree we could quote him on one occasion… more of that later.

So why was Percival there? He said it was “unusual” for him to attend workshops of this kind but having had a long discussion with Hoskin at the recent IFP conference he was keen to see the content of the workshop and how adviser businesses responded to it.

This, he added, was part of the regulator’s changing structure, which would see greater focus on thematic reviews and communication, including increased attendance at industry events, in order to get its message across to the market. [For more on how the FCA is changing it’s approach see this ABR article here.]

Percival will have taken away positive insight from the reasons that individuals gave for attending the workshop and what they wanted to get from it. Attendees ranged from relatively new to long established businesses. Many were in the process of undertaking strategic change and/or a restructuring of their business and were looking for ideas to help create a better advice journey and service to clients – to add “that ‘wow’ factor” to their proposition. As one business owner put it: “I think we’ve got a good business but I want us to have a wow business. I don’t want clients, I want raving fans.”

Hoskins is emphatic that if a business wants to succeed then the firm’s vision and values and its quality standards need to be set and driven from the top. This was a jam-packed event in terms of content and it would be impossible to do it justice here, but it covered personal and professional development as, Hoskin said, “they mirror each other”, as well as business development under the trademarked 10 Principles of Wow! See the end of this article for a list of the 10 principles.

Anyone who runs a business and has taken on board ideas from a seminar or workshop knows that the ideas are great but it is the execution after the event that is crucial. Perhaps the two most pressing questions for any adviser business therefore were:

• What things and people are stopping you and your business from achieving WOWW!?

• What are you going to do about it?

Having Percival attend the event is something of a coup for Hoskin and the regulator’s technical specialist can only have come away from the day, having seen the presentation and listened to the discussions, with positive views of the forward-thinking firms in the room and where this profession is headed.

With limited resources the regulator has to work smarter and being part of adviser events, both on stage and in the audience, will not only allow it to deliver its messages face-to-face but will help it gain a better understanding of the many positive changes happening and the developing culture of adviser firms in the market.

Which brings us back to the one quote that Percival agreed we could cite. With the culture of adviser businesses being a key issue for the regulator, Percival suggested a critical requirement was for firms to achieve a suitable balance of work and “fun” within their cultures. Now if that was issued as a regulatory directive I am sure many people would be more than happy to follow it. 

Michelle Hoskin’s 10 Principles of Woww!

1. Clients: Understanding clients’ expectations and how to exceed them

2. Service: Turning service into serving

3. Culture: Creating a culture so awesome you couldn’t begin to describe it

4. Team: Empowering your people to understand their purpose and unleash their passion

5. Finance: Know your numbers

6. Communication: Don’t just communicate… collaborate

7. Environment: Creating one where everyone can be the best version of themselves

8. Processes and procedures: Processes create predictability, which releases the real power of you

9. IT and technology: tool-up to speed up your progress and remove barriers

10. Key persons: Put quality at the heart of the relationships you value the most.

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