Sunday, 21 October 2018 10:15

Bamford: Lessons in expanding our Financial Planning business

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Martin Bamford FPFS  CFP Chartered MCSI Martin Bamford FPFS CFP Chartered MCSI

After 24 years in business at one location, we recently made the decision to open a second office in a different town. This expansion was several years in the making, with the timing now right by virtue of a number of factors.

When we decided to pull the trigger and open a second office, the search for suitable premises could begin.
 
We initially envisaged this being a serviced office, allowing us to rent flexible desk space and access to meeting room facilities. Not having to manage logistics like phone lines and Internet connections was another attraction with this approach.
 
Unfortunately, the serviced offices on offer were pretty dire, some with carpets that had seen better days twenty years ago and desks slotted into every available corner. Measuring these serviced office options up against our brand guidelines made the decision easy; we needed to find a place of our own.

 

With a dose of good luck on our side, a local connection introduced us to a house-builder who had just finished a mixed residential and commercial development, with a few office units available to lease. Paperwork signed and moving-in date agreed, the hard work could start.
 
A new office only really needs a handful of things in order to function. It needs some furniture. An online IKEA order and day of assembling flat pack furniture later, and that box was ticked.
 
It also needs a decent coffee machine. Amazon Prime took care of that one.
 
Probably most importantly, given how much we rely on cloud computing, it needs the internet. Predictably, this is where the fun and games begin.
 
Because the office is a new build, we discovered the registration process with Land Registry and the Royal Mail hadn’t taken place yet. As far as the telephone providers are concerned, the office didn’t exist.
 
A few calls to the landlord later and it transpires that the office does exist, but the postcode on the lease paperwork is wrong.
 
With correct postcode in hand, it turns out that the location of our new office hasn’t been enabled for high speed fibre broadband. Not the end of the world, as copper broadband is fast enough for now, until the upgrade becomes available in the future. So we book the installation, having to wait a couple of weeks for the engineer to visit.
 
With a week to go before the installation date, we get the good news from BT that fibre broadband is now available, with the local exchange and cabinets both upgraded. We can change our order to fibre, but it will mean having to wait another fortnight for the installation.
 
Champing at the bit and wanting to get working in the new office, we decided to stick with slow broadband for now, dealing with the high speed upgrade later.
 
Thinking ahead to the engineer visit, we take a closer look at the bundle of cables sitting in the corner of the office. Getting the Internet to the office is one thing, getting it to each PC is quite another.
 
A little more digging with the landlord and it turns out we need to source our own data cabinet and switches, so the Internet and phone talk to each of the data sockets. Our moving in date is pushed back another few days so we can find a local data networking specialist.
 
We will get there in the end, but you can’t help but think the whole process was more difficult than it needed to be. Even the local authority couldn’t give us a figure for business rates until they found an assessor able to visit and measure up.
 
Landlords wanting to attract quality tenants would be well advised to ease the process and help with some of these logistical challenges, especially getting a phone line installed when the property is built.
 
There are similar issues in the world of Financial Planning of course.
 
From a client perspective, we need to remove every possible barrier to working with us. Making the onboarding process as slick as possible, preparing the client for the first meeting experience and setting clear expectations are all essential in ensuring that clients fully engage with the Financial Planning process.
 
We inevitably face roadblocks when product providers get involved in the process; either delays providing the correct information about existing products or poor service when establishing new ones to implement the recommendations in the Financial Plan.
 
Regardless of these third-party roadblocks, it’s critical for us to make the Financial Planning experience as smooth and painless as it can possibly be.


Martin Bamford FPFS Chartered Financial Planner SOLLA Accredited Later Life Adviser

Managing Director, Informed Choice 

 

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Read 1335 times Last modified on Wednesday, 21 November 2018 11:23
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