We have a population of somewhere between 12,000 and 14,000 and it's growing in line with other South East villages and towns. There's also an awful lot of new development springing out of the ground.
The population in Cranleigh is categorised as 'wealthy achievers'. It's very much a Surrey Hills community. The typical resident is a London commuter with a professional career, perhaps with children at an independent school.
It's not to say everyone's in that position, but in terms of our prospective clients, there are a considerable number of people who fall under that 'wealthy achievers' category.
If I was to look back five years, there were three medium-sized Financial Planning firms, including ours, in Cranleigh. Since then one has sold to a consolidator and moved to a nearby town. The other sold to St James's Place and closed their High Street office.
So apart from a handful of self-employed network members working from spare bedrooms, we are now the only game in town. We've got a very well established local presence; we live, work, and volunteer here in the village. Therefore, it would require a huge investment in both time and money for a new capacity to gain a foothold here in the community.
About 18-months ago, we identified a similar opportunity in Petersfield, a market town about 30 miles away across the Hampshire border. Petersfield has a slightly larger population than Cranleigh, but a similar demographic and similarly, close to zero competition.
So where is the Financial Planning competition?
Speaking to other Financial Planners across the UK, it's the same story in most villages and towns. This absence of competition means you can comfortably have access to between 10-20,000 affluent prospective clients with little to no serious competition.
This lack of competition might sound like a good thing, but it's probably not. It's actually easier to 'sell' Financial Planning services to somebody who already works with an adviser.
In our experience, a prospective client who sees two other Financial Planners as part of their research, is far more likely to engage with us than the one who only meets with us.
It's beneficial to give prospective clients a point of comparison, and that point of comparison makes it more likely that they will engage. We could all benefit from a greater supply of Financial Planners in the market and from more competition.
I know it's an economic term, but a rising tide lifts all boats, and a greater supply of Financial Planning services around the country would boost us all, along with a supply of skilled professionals such as Paraplanners and improved public perception of Financial Planning as a profession.
Martin Bamford FPFS is a Chartered Financial Planner at Informed Choice and CEO of Bamford Media.