Profile: Adviser gives up current clients in overhaul of business proposition
Nearly 20 years after founding Turbin Independent Financial Planning, managing director Martin Turbin has taken the brave and bold decision to overhaul his entire business proposition to target small business owners. Turbin tells Adviser Business Review what led to his change in direction, how he plans to grow a new business and what he would like the future to look like.
Adviser Business Review: What has prompted your decision to change your business focus to small business owners?
Martin Turbin: The business has evolved over the years and my client numbers have grown and reduced in that time. When I first started the business in 1998, my focus was upon growing my client base, but just over 10 years ago I made the decision to streamline the business and focus more upon the high net worth market. I wrote to clients I felt I could no longer suitably service and targeted the over 55s with minimum investable assets of £250,000. Today, I have 25 clients with an average invested amount of £700,000.
However, a recent event in my personal life has made me re-evaluate the type of business I would like and the type of client I feel I would be best suited to service. I’ve made the decision to remove the minimum assets level, as I recognise there are many successful individuals who would benefit from financial planning but do not have liquid assets. My focus will now be upon working with small business owners and I’ve set myself 12 months to achieve my goal.
ABR: Why have you chosen to target business owners?
MT: I am a small business owner so it’s an area I understand and have real experience of. My needs are similar to theirs and I believe clients want an adviser they can resonate with. It’s important that they feel comfortable discussing their concerns and also that we have that connection and get on well together.
“I would be lying if I said
it wasn’t a scary prospect
overhauling my entire proposition”
On a personal level, I want to feel real enthusiasm and passion for my work and my clients also deserve to receive that from their adviser. I think it would benefit my existing clients to have a fresh set of eyes look over their investments and I will ensure they’re in the very best of hands. Of course, I would be lying if I said it wasn’t a scary prospect overhauling my entire proposition, but I really feel now is the time to make this change and take on a whole new challenge.
ABR: How do you plan to transition your current clients and build a new client base?
MT: I am currently in advanced talks with an adviser about merging our businesses. We would have two very distinct branches; he would take care of the personal planning clients and I would focus on finding new clients.
There is a book by Michael Port called Book Yourself Solid, which is a great read when it comes to building your business. On average, it’s estimated clients need around 10 hours of exposure to someone to trust them so I’m considering a variety of methods I feel would help me achieve that. I’ve recently written a book, which I hope will boost my credibility and I’ve devised a series of online videos which coach people approaching retirement. After prospective clients have watched the series of three videos, they are invited in for a free meeting to discuss their needs. My aim is to differentiate myself as an industry leader rather than just another IFA and I hope that my videos and book will help to do that.
In addition, I would like to return to the professional connections I’ve built up over the years but haven’t always been able to utilise because of my focus upon the high net worth client. I’m also a member of a networking group, which may be useful in helping me to secure new business leads and then of course there’s the direct approach. As a small firm, especially one looking to have a complete overhaul, I can’t afford to spend money on endless marketing methods, so I will assess and monitor what works best and channel my focus accordingly.
ABR: What would you like your business to look like in 12 months?
MT: I would like to have a client base of between 50 and 70 small business owners and my preference is those with established businesses rather than start-ups. I do not plan to retain any of my current clients as I feel doing so would make them a ‘security blanket’ for me and would hinder my drive to create a new business.
“I do not plan to retain
any of my current clients”
Further down the line, once I’ve established the new business, I can envisage bringing on younger advisers. The risk with being a small firm is the fear of ill health and what would happen to my clients if something were to happen to me, so I have built a network of advisers who I could potentially collaborate with or eventually pass my business on to.