12th Jan, 2022 - Webinar replay
How to turn clients into advocates - In association with VouchedFor
Phil Bray 0:01
Good morning everybody, and welcome. A belated Happy New Year to everybody on the call. I’m delighted to welcome everybody to the first Yardstick webinar of 2022. We’ll be doing one of these a month. And really delighted today that we’re joined by some great company in Alex and Connor, from VouchedFor. And today we’re gonna be talking about – it might be the longest webinar title that we’ve ever come up with. But today, we’re going to be talking about turning clients into advocates. And also, on the back of that, increasing the number of recommendations you receive. And we’re going to be talking about that with insights from over a quarter of a million reviews on VouchedFor. That’s a massive number when you think about it. A quarter of a million people, reviewing their adviser or planner on VouchedFor. It really is a truly amazing number. But in time honoured tradition, if anybody has joined us before. Going to kick off the presentation in a minute, but I’m going to hand over to Dan, Dan Campbell, our head of branding, for today’s housekeeping.
Dan Campbell 1:12
Sure thing. So a few housekeeping points for me. So I’m Dan. I usually say I’m Phil’s unglamorous assistant on these webinars. But funnily enough, I’ve had one or two emails saying that I am quite glamorous in my own, very obscure way. So, make of that what you will, I suppose. Kind, but untrue. So my job as always, is to make sure everything’s running smoothly, keep us on track and on time. And that means that if you do spot any odd behaviour with sound, or the way the screen is being shared, let us know in the chat, and I’ll push a few buttons my end. As regards to odd behaviour from Phil, Alex or Connor; well, I can’t control that, I’m afraid. So, some important questions that we usually get. Firstly, yes; a recording of this will be sent out later on. So you’ll have plenty of time to rewatch, and absorb all the information that’s shared today. And secondly, these sessions work better with lots and lots of questions. So, don’t be afraid to get stuck in. There are two ways you can do that. So the first is in the chat function at the bottom. And the second is in the little Q&A box. I’ll be monitoring both, so everything will be swept up. And, I’ll be reading them out at natural breaks along the way. So, what I will ask Alex and Connor to do, is just come to me at those points and I’ll read them out. I’m sure Phil will have a few questions as well. So we’ll all learn something there. So, without further ado, over to you Phil, Alex and Connor.
Phil Bray 2:42
Thanks, Dan. Thank you. As I say, welcome to everybody. First webinar of 2022. And this is what we’re gonna be talking about today. So, we’re gonna start off by talking about the journey that people take, from being suspects to advocate. Now we’ll talk about a bit of theory there. We’ll talk about the behaviours, that are proved to lead to greater advocacy. Clearly we want to create as many… a larger proportion of our clients, in terms of a larger proportion as possible, into advocates. We’re going to talk about how firms can increase the number of recommendations, that they receive. Three keys to passionate advocacy, that’s in Alex and Connors’ session. The blind spots which reduce advocacy. And then we’re going to come back to me, and I’m going to talk about some of the practical things that you and your team can be doing, with your marketing, to increase advocacy. Give you some things that you can go away and implement in your business. Just to emphasise Dan’s point though; please do question. Everyone gets more of these sessions, if we get questions, if we get comments, if we get feedback. And by all means, challenges us. If you think that myself, in particular – less so Alex and Connor – but myself in particular, are talking complete rubbish, then please do say so. Because we don’t have all the answers. And we only get better as a business, and get better helping you out there and market your business, if we get challenged. So when we get challenged, we improve as well. So please question, comment, feedback, and challenge. But, I want to start with this journey, from suspect through prospect, client and advocate. I think it’s really important that we understand this. And I’ve talked about this quite a few times, so apologies if people on the call have already heard it, but it probably bears repeating. So we want, on your behalf, and you want, as large a proportion of your client bank to be advocates for you. For this journey, it’s a long one, and it starts at the suspect stage. Now for us, as marketers, a suspect is somebody who knows you as a business, but you don’t know them yet. So Andrew, I can see you’re on the call from Berry & Oak, let me pick on you. So if somebody knows the Berry & Oak business, knows Andrew because they’ve driven past the office, they’ve been recommended to Andrew, they’ve seen some of Berry & Oak’s excellent social media posts. So they know, they’re aware of the firm. They’re aware of Berry & Oak, but Berry & Oak aren’t aware of them yet. That means the person is in the suspect stage. The suspect is when someone knows of you, or your firm, but you don’t know them yet. A prospect is when a suspect has made contact. They’ve emailed in, completed an online enquiry form, picked up the phone, made a request through VouchedFor to get in touch. But they’ve got in touch, and they’ve started a conversation with the adviser or planner. At point they’re at prospective clients stage and I just shorten that to prospect. I know some people get a bit wound up by the word prospect, but it’s simply a shortening of prospective client. So after prospect, now clearly some prospects won’t become clients. The majority won’t become clients. Typically conversion rates, we see are one in three, one in four. For the next stage on from prospect is client. And that’s pretty obvious. It’s where someone’s paying you a fee for your service. And then the stage after that is where the client becomes a genuine advocate for the business, they’re a genuine advocate for your business. And it’s massively important that we turn as many clients into advocates, as possible. Because strong businesses, really strong businesses, have a good flow of new enquiries, a large proportion of their clients recommending them on, are built on powerful advocacy. And advocates, they’ll act as critical friends. They will – in the nicest possible way – tell you when something could be improved. But they’re happy to remain as a client, and they’re happy to advocate for you. They want you to be improved, they want you to be as good as possible, so they act as critical friends. They also provide social proof. And what I mean by that, is that they’ll leave Google reviews and VouchedFor reviews. They will complete client surveys. They will appear on videos. I often say if you ask the right clients in the right way, they will appear on videos. So advocates will provide social proof. And, they will also recommend you to other people. And that’s really crucial. They’ll recommend you to other people, but also advocates will recommend you to the right people as well. And a genuine advocate won’t recommend you to somebody that you can’t help, because they don’t want to waste both parties time. But they will recommend you to the right people. So advocacy is massively powerful. Businesses – strong businesses – are built on advocacy. And as I say, they’ll act as critical friends, they’ll provide social proof, and they’ll recommend you to others. And from a recommendation perspective, I use this slide a lot. Advocacy helps you close these two gaps. And if you want to improve the number of recommendations you receive, it’s massively important that we close these two gaps. The first gap, is the gap between the proportion of clients who say they will recommend you – in theory – and then those who actually do. Now our research shows, that around 94.99% of clients would recommend their financial planner on to other people. But only about 35% have recommended their planner on, in the past 12 months. That’s a big gap, a really big gap. So the first thing we need to do, is get that bottom figure closer to the top. And we do that through a variety of different ways. But obviously one of them is improving advocacy. The second gap we need to close, is the gap between the number of people who have been recommended to you – 35% in that case – and the proportion who actually gets in touch, and actually take a call to action to get in touch. And again, advocacy can help there. Because there’s a big difference between someone just giving a potential client the name of their planner, compared to giving them the name with a glowing recommendation, passing a business card, passing a brochure over, even doing the introduction by email. Big, big difference there. So, from a recommendation perspective, we need to close those two gaps. And we do that, partly through advocacy. And today is all about how we improve advocacy. First thing we need to do, is recognise the importance of it. And clearly everyone who has turned up today, has done that. They recognise the importance of advocacy. And we follow the evidence, and then we make changes in the business. We’re going to talk a bit about some of the practical changes, but I’m going to hand over to Alex and Connor now, to talk about the evidence. So this is where we do a change of screens. Let’s see if we can do this slickly guys. I’m going to stop my screen share, and you guys can share your screen.
Alex Whitson 10:06
Horray, it worked! Many thanks Phil. Good morning to you all. I hope you’re all well, and have had a good start to the year. So what are we going to cover? I’ll briefly share the inspiration for our new Safeguard system. Which you may have read about in the press, and then I’ll hand over to Connor to talk you through the clever bit. To set the scene, there’s been important progress within the advice space over the last 10 years or so from RDR through to more recently, the proposed consumer duty and vulnerable client papers. The direction of travel is very much towards better consumer protection, and a greater focus on client experience. And many of our members have told us that they’re keen to accelerate this. What we’ve realised, is that there’s a lot more that we could and should be doing, to help here. As the UK’s largest review site for financial advisers, we have a lot of data that shows us what great client experience looks like. There’s just over 3,600 verified members on the platform now. They’re backed by, just over a quarter of a million, client reviews. And those client reviews measure client sentiment, at each stage of the client journey. So from first impression reviews left after an initial meeting, through to client reviews, typically left by a new client, and then annual follow up reviews left every 12 months thereafter. What we wanted to do is go further than this, and we’ve spent a lot of time over the last year really interrogating our data. We’ve been speaking to advisers as well, advice firm bosses, and clients, to hone in on the most powerful client experience drivers. Now, these are the factors that make the biggest positive difference, to client experience. And this process has ultimately led us to Safeguard. Safeguard sets out to help firms improve client experience, and more specifically, drive these three goals: making great first impressions – increasing new client conversion rate, delighting existing clients – promoting advocacy and retention, and Safeguarding clients best interests – mitigating risk. Safeguard works by using carefully engineered client questions, which help firms understand how they’re doing against these three goals. What’s going well, and crucially, how they can drive improvement, in a really kind of objective way. It’s a distinct but related system, to our VouchedFor review platform, in the sense that you can collect feedback entirely privately, through Safeguard, to generate MI and help you improve client experience. And then if you wish to, you can essentially flick a switch to put the relevant parts of that feedback on to the public VouchedFor platform, in the form of reviews. So one feedback form, which can drive kind of internal MI and help improve client experience. And then if you wish, also drive kind of external marketing value too. I hope that makes sense. I’m now going to hand over to Connor, who’s going to talk through some of the early insights from the system, particularly relating to that second goal, given the theme of today.
Conor McCutcheon 13:24
Very good. Thanks, Alex. Good morning everyone. Yeah, so the theme of today obviously, is more around that goal number two: delighting existing clients – promoting advocacy and retention. And the first thing to talk about is, the main stat that we look at for this advocacy goal. And the question that we ask in our in our review forms is, “In what circumstances would you recommend your adviser?” Now, only 1% of clients say that they wouldn’t recommend their adviser at all. And slightly different to Phil’s number, but in the same sort of ballpark. And I think that really reflects the strength of the experience that almost all advisers are delivering across the industry. But where we focus, is actually on the difference between the next two options. So, “I would consider recommending my adviser to certain people,” 57% of clients say that, and 42% of clients say, “I’d be a passionate advocate for my adviser.” And according to our data, it’s those passionate advocates who really do most of the recommending, and the most effective recommending. And what we’ve found is that, by really focusing on converting more of their clients into passionate advocates, actually most firms could double the number of client referrals that they receive, which is is really exciting. And so, we’ve really dug into what are the specific things that advisers and firms can do to do that – to create more passionate advocates out of their clients? And we found three key areas that they can focus on to build on that. And those are, building strong relationships with clients, and building the clients confidence in the service. And finally, using data, to focus your efforts to celebrate success, and to understand and improve on any blind spots there may be in that experience. So what I’m going to do, is effectively go through each of these three areas one by one. And looking at the specific data points that we capture. And hopefully, that’s helpful to understand and see some practical areas where you can focus, to really drive advocacy in your business. So focusing on the first one now: building strong relationships with your clients. The first point here is around the frequency of communication, between an adviser and their clients. And the question that we ask is, “How often do you speak with your adviser?” There’s a real distribution. Many clients speaking to their adviser once a year, and many speaking more than four times a year. But what’s clear is – and the clear trend we can see, is – that the more a client and adviser speak, the more likely it is that a client is to become a passionate advocate. And just to explain this chart you can see on screen here at the moment. The blue bars, are the proportion of reviews, that respond to each of these options in the question. So, 20% of clients say that they meet their adviser once a year or fewer. 48% two to four times a year, 32% more than four times a year. And the green line, is the proportion of those clients who’ve answered in that way, that are passionate advocates. So you can see, that 59% of clients who meet their adviser more than four times a year are passionate advocates. Relative to only 33%, who meet them once a year or fewer. So one area to focus on, is frequency of communication. Access is also huge. The question that we asked to understand this is, “Between meetings, when would you contact your adviser?” And again, you know, there’s a really strong correlation here, between the client, feeling able to reach out to their adviser and ask any questions – even if they’re not necessarily super urgent or super important – and the degree of advocacy that they’re willing to give for their adviser. Most clients here are saying that they’d be quite willing to reach out to their adviser, whenever they have a question. But there are a minority who would wait only for an important question, or would wait for the next meeting. The third point here is around the actual nature of the relationship, between the client and the adviser. And we often think that, in order to be comfortable recommending an adviser on to your network, on to your friends or family, there has to be a degree of trust there, with the adviser. And I think, one of the ways we get at that through our review form, is by asking the question, “What topics do you discuss with your adviser?” And the options for that question are really focused on, would you be comfortable talking about personal challenges that you’re facing with your adviser? So things like bereavement, things like divorce, things like health challenges you may be going through. A significant minority of clients, wouldn’t be comfortable talking about those topics with their adviser. And those clients are also less likely to be passionate advocates for those advisers. So really building that strong trust and that rapport with the clients, can really boost the degree of advocacy there. So, not only are those three factors really important in themselves, in terms of generating advocacy with clients. They also have a knock on impact, in that advisers who have really strong relationships with certain clients, tend to be much more comfortable asking those clients to recommend them, to their friends and family and so on. And actually, not many clients have been asked that. So we asked the question, “Has your adviser asked you to recommend them to people that you know?” And 76% of clients, haven’t been asked to recommend. But those that have been, are much more likely to be passionate advocates, than others. So it’s not something, clearly, that most advisers do, but it may be worth considering for certain clients, where it feels like you may end up with more recommendations. It can be really effective, particularly when clients are asked more than once. Up to 63% passionate advocacy there. So that’s that first section, on building strong relationships with your clients. I’ll pause here, we’ve covered a lot so far. I wonder if there are any questions, Dan?
Dan Campbell 20:52
Yeah, there certainly are. So all three questions that we’ve got, are around that slide, “How often do you speak with your adviser?” So it may be worth popping back to that just for a second. So two of the questions essentially ask, “Can we define ‘speak’?” So is it touchpoints, picking up the phone, sending out other communications, such as email newsletters, for example? Let’s just firm that definition up.
Conor McCutcheon 21:20
Yeah. So we’re really focused on actual conversations, between clients and their advisers. We ask other questions in the form, in terms of correspondence, that’s received by the client. So we’re talking about “speaking”. Sort of verbal communication. That can be over the phone, that can be in person and that can be over video call obviously as well.
Dan Campbell 21:46
Lovely, thanks. So next question is from David, who says, “So the question with, ‘how often do you speak?’ references the number of reviews in the bar there. So which is it?” Can we explain the correlation a little bit there between number of reviews, and then how often we speak with the adviser?
Conor McCutcheon 22:07
Sure, yeah. So, what the chart shows, is that… maybe if I pick out the one on the right hand side to start off with. So, that bar shows that 32% of the reviews that we’ve received in response to this question, say that they speak to their adviser more than four times per year. Okay. So that distribution of the blue bars you can see shows that 20% of people… of reviewers, of reviews left, which corresponds to the number of clients, are speaking to their adviser once a year or fewer. 48% two to four times a year and 32% more than four times a year. And then the correlation there you can see, is around the relationship between the green line and those three categories. So, the more that they’re speaking to the clients, the more likely they are to be a passionate advocate.
Dan Campbell 23:06
Conor McCutcheon 23:06
Hopefully thats a bit clearer.
Dan Campbell 23:07
Yeah, that’s excellent. So, the next few questions are all about asking for referrals. So, question in from Harry who asks, “From your data, is there a right, or wrong, or even best way, to ask clients to recommend their friends?”
Conor McCutcheon 23:28
Yes, I think that there’s early indications in our data that asking the right clients, as defined by the nature of relationship between the client and the adviser, is kind of key. And it may well be worth spending time, making sure that, for example, the client is confident that they’re on track to achieving their goals. Which is one of the other things, before asking them for that recommendation, because we know that those are the factors that can generate advocacy in their own right. And so, asking them for recommendations, for those clients, is almost like a multiplier effect on that relationship that you’ve already built up. But ultimately look, you know your clients better than anyone else, and so it’s down to the advisers judgement, in terms of exactly when to bring it up in the conversation, what words to use. Alex will talk a bit later, we’ve got a tool as VouchedFor, that can help actually ask for those recommendations. But we’ll leave that for a bit later on.
Dan Campbell 24:40
That’s really interesting. I suppose the question I’d ask. Phil, in your referral workshops, I bet you have a lot of these questions, about the way we’re supposed to ask, and how the question can be phrased? What are your thoughts on it?
Phil Bray 24:53
I’m dying to come in here. So, first thing, I passionately believe… This comes back to what we’re talking about challenge isn’t it? I passionately believe we shouldn’t be asking for referrals. It creates a sense of obligation on behalf of the client, which is proven to elicit negative feelings, and even alienate potential clients. So what we need to do is just, go about this in a way that doesn’t create a sense of obligation, from the client to the adviser or planner. And there was some research done by, I’m going to say, I think it was Investec? And a global consulting firm, whose name escapes me, so I can’t credit them right now – but I will do on the on the follow up email. And remember the 2010 general election? The first general election, where we had TV debates. There was Nick Clegg, Gordon Brown, David Cameron, and probably a few others. And BBC and ITV did some focus groups, with a little dial on it. And as Nick Clegg, Gordon Brown, etc, were talking, the focus group would increase the dial or decrease the dial, based on whether they were positive or negative to what was being said. Well, Investec and the global consulting firm, did something similar. In the States, they got a bunch of high net worth individuals in the room, they fed them some lines that advisers and planners had traditionally used, and worked out whether the people increased or decreased the dial. And that gave us some lines, that people were proven to be more positive and more positively received, and gave us some lines that were negatively received and proven to alienate. And things like, “Who can you refer me to?” The old one, there’s probably a few people as old as me on this call about, “I get paid in two ways. Through fees, and also recommendations.” They’re all proven not to work. So absolutely, there’s a way of asking… Sorry, there’s a way of talking and we absolutely shouldn’t be asking. And for me, there’s six stages. We go through this in a referral workshop, we’ll talk about that later on. But there’s six stages to having a conversation with a client, about recommendations. You absolutely should have the conversation, the three different points, which we’ll explain in a bit. You can use tech, such as VouchedFor’s referral generator tool can back that up. But long winded answer Dan, short version is yes, there is definitely a way to discuss recommendations with clients.
Dan Campbell 27:39
Brilliant, thanks. So I think we’ll have one more question. And then we’ll move on. So, the question in from Phillip, and it’s a really interesting question. “I saw recently a firm, which is offering £500 travel vouchers, for three referrals in a year. What do you think of this approach?” And I’ll put that to Connor and Alex first, and then I’m sure Phil is going to have an opinion on this too.
Conor McCutcheon 28:06
Alex, do you have a view?
Alex Whitson 28:08
Yeah, I mean, I think a lot of that ties into what Phil was just saying. You don’t want to seem overly salesy, or pushy in your approach. And I think offering such a high monetary incentive, sends the wrong messages, personally. That said, I don’t think there’s necessarily anything wrong with offering some sort of incentive. And I will share our referral generator tool, a bit later in the session with you and you can see what you think about the messaging there. We give advisers the option to add an incentive, if they’d like, of a number of M&S vouchers. It’s not quite as high as £500. But we have seen that that does help drive action, we typically position it as an incentive that you can share with the person you recommend. The adviser too, if it works out. So, it’s not just because a client might see… if they were to go out to a friend and tell that friend about an adviser, and then the friend was to learn that there’d been £500 in it, for the person recommending the adviser, it doesn’t quite sit right. Whereas, if the incentive was something that could be shared between the two of them, it’s a bit more wholesome in the approach. So, I’m not totally against it, but I’d be very cautious in terms of how you deploy the message.
Dan Campbell 29:31
Yeah, that’s really interesting. Phil, what’s your view on paying for referrals?
Phil Bray 29:38
I’m a bit of a pragmatist. And therefore, I’d be really interested to see, Phillip, whether the firm makes it work. It’d be really interesting to see whether it’s a, you know, the first time they’ve done it, or it’s been something they’ve been doing for a while, and that has generated recommendations for them. I can think of one firm, out of all the ones we’ve worked with in the five years that Yardstick’s been going, that have done something similar, and it has really, really worked for them. The firm themselves, they’ve got a very charismatic, very powerful founder, and head and face of the business. And that helps. But I’ve only seen it work once. So, I’d be interested to understand whether it’s working for that firm, and how long it’s worked for them. There’s other ways of doing it. Charitable donations can work well. We’ve got a firm in the Lake District and another in Otley. Relatively small firms. But that’s worked really well – charitable donations for recommendations – and it’s definitely increased the number of recommendations they’ve received, while doing something good for the community; a hospital, a food bank. So I’ve seen that work well. And also, about advocacy, I’ve seen, you know, thank you cards, and gifts being given, but I’m giving away loads of stuff that was in our recommendation workshop. So short answer, pragmatic, I’d like to see the result.
Dan Campbell 31:00
Brilliant. Thanks for that. So we will move on. But I will just quickly mention that we’ve had a few comments – not questions – that say, exactly echo what you’ve just said, Phil, where charitable donations leave a, sort of a pleasant taste in people’s mouths. And also just a thank you box of wine, hamper, you know, nice things, not necessarily for an actual referral, in this person that’s commented’s case, it’s more just a case of, you know, here you are as a client, here’s a nice thing. And that itself, encourages further referrals down the line. So yeah, shall we move on to the next section, then, guys?
Conor McCutcheon 31:36
Sounds good. Thank you. Cool. So the next section is all around, building clients confidence in in your service. And, this section is a bit shorter. There’s two massive things that can be done here, and I’ll cover those. So. Yeah, one of the questions we ask is, is, “How confident are you that you’re on track to achieving your goals? So, the goals that you’re working on with your adviser?” and we see that being sort of firmly on track to those, and being sort of clear on how on track you are, is absolutely massive for advocacy. So you can see the difference between, “I’m confident that I’m on track to achieve my goals,” and, “I couldn’t be more confident that I’m on track to achieving my goals,” is huge. So it’s a difference between 36% passionate advocacy, and 66% passionate advocacy. So 66% of clients, who couldn’t be more confident that they’re on track to achieving their goals, are passionate advocates. And, what’s interesting is that, you know, only 22% of clients say that they couldn’t be more confident, which means a really substantial majority of clients, there is room for improvement, in this area. So it’s really worth thinking about, you know, what is the process? What is the right way of talking with each of your clients, to really help give them that confidence that, you know, the stuff you’re working on is getting them to where they want to get to? And where you’ve agreed in terms of the goals that they should be getting to? So this is a really big one. The next one, you know, similarly important, is high quality conversations, around risk. So, the way we get at this through our form, is by asking, “How confident are you, that you understand the potential disadvantages of your advisers recommendations?” And again, it’s that difference between, “I’m confident,” and, “I couldn’t be more confident,” in terms of, you know, understanding the potential disadvantages, or or understanding the risk involved with those recommendations. And what’s interesting here as well, is that actually, for older clients, it becomes even more important. So it becomes far and away, the most important factor. For the 65 and over age group, is, you know, that question of confidence, that you’re taking the appropriate amount of risk, and really understanding the potential disadvantages there. So it’s… you know, for those who couldn’t be more confident in the potential disadvantages, you know, 72% of them are passionate advocates. And I think it reflects the nature of the conversations that are held around them, and how often you talking about that, and the depth in which you’re talking about it as well. Cool. So, yeah, very brief section there. I don’t know if there’d been any more questions Dan, or should we move on?
Dan Campbell 34:52
No, no, nothing. Nothing worth pointing out just yet.
Conor McCutcheon 34:56
Cool. All right. Very good. Cool. So the third section here, is around using data, to focus your efforts. And this is where we come back to, you know, the actual practicalities of the Safeguard system, that we’ve developed. And what we find is that, you know, client experience data, can really help advisers find the blind spots that are limiting advocacy. And I think there’s a huge opportunity here, for almost every single adviser and really interesting stat that we’ve seen throughout this. If you think to each of the different data points we’ve talked about so far, only 2% of of reviews – so roughly 2% of clients – say that their adviser is doing each one of those things, perfectly. Right? So for every adviser, there is likely room for at least some degree of improvement. And how do you do that? Well, you have to really understand where you are, and where the blind spots are, before you can improve. So, what you can see on screen now, is actually real data for five advisers, in one firm, that comes out of our safeguard system. And these are the passionate advocacy percentages for those five real advisers. So, just to explain what that means. So for adviser One, on the left hand side there, 82% of their clients say that they’re passionate advocates. In contrast for adviser Five, 27% of their clients say they’re passionate advocates. And so there’s a real span of performance here. And we see this across lots and lots of the firms that we work with. And across the industry as a whole. There’s a massive span, in terms of some advisers are consistently driving advocacy. And some have quite a way to go, in order to catch up there. And what’s interesting here, as well, is that you can see the industry average cutting across. We do make that benchmarking data available. So firms and advisers can see how they stack up; not only to others in their firm, but also to the industry as a whole. So if I’m adviser Five, or if I’m the MD of this firm, the thing that jumps out to me, of course, is okay; adviser Five, 27%. Why are they lower than the others? And how can they improve? What are they doing well? But also, how can they improve? And so if we dive in… and this is the sort of data that that we’re giving to individual advisers, and to the management of the firms, to really help them understand the blind spots there. So this is real data, for that adviser; adviser Five is obviously anonymised. And what we can see is that, they’re actually doing well in some areas. So in terms of client confidence, that they’re on track to achieve their goals, they are above the average for the industry. Okay, they’re slightly below the average for the industry, in terms of the client feeling able to contact that adviser, in terms of the frequency of communication, but the really clear area, and the clear blind spot for them, if they want to boost the degree of advocacy in their client bank, is the degree of rapport that they have built up. And that comes back to that question we talked about before, about, you know, what topics would you discuss with your adviser, maybe it’s not rapport, but it’s trust, but that’s the sort of area where there’s a real blind spot for them potentially. And it’s the one area they should focus on for the most improvement. And so, thinking about how this works, in practice, what we’ve actually built is, dashboards; a series of dashboards, which give really actionable data. Take the information out of the, sort of, review forms, to present, you know, the blind spots. The areas for improvement – both for the management of firms, but also to individual advisers. But also crucially, it’s the areas where, you know, advisers are doing well. And that’s the thing that’s really struck us, I think, across looking at the data that we’ve had so far, is that you know, by and large, advisers do a phenomenal job for their clients. And one of the things we really want to do, as part of this, is celebrate that. And I think that having this sort of dataset, allows us to do that, with, you know, with real confidence. And so, you know, that’s a big part of what Safeguard is all about as well. The other interesting point I sort of try and make here, is that when we first set out to develop this system, we really thought we’d get much more interest from the larger firms. But actually, we’ve been really encouraged at the fact that we’ve had loads and loads of interests from small firms, and also from sort of individual advisers, who think that it can really help them understand their clients better, and improve the experience that they’re delivering. So yeah, so I want to hand back to Alex now, to talk about a few other ways, in which you can drive advocacy, which are a bit different from Safeguard.
Alex Whitson 40:22
Great stuff. Thanks, Connor. So yeah, we just wanted to close out with a couple of sort of further thoughts, which aren’t necessarily directly related to Safeguard, in terms of how you can drive advocacy. So the first is around, just building social proof. Something I know, Phil writes and talks a lot about. What we found is that 79% of clients are more likely to refer to you, having read your reviews. That’s not to say, the clients in question didn’t think their advisers were good to begin with. It’s simply the case that referring to a financial adviser is a big deal. And clients like the reassurance of knowing that it’s not just them, who thinks that the adviser is great. Secondly, in terms of encouraging clients, and indeed prospective clients, to read your reviews, one of the best ways to do that is to invite them to review. So if you invite them to review you, and it’s easy and tempting within that journey to read reviews left for you by other clients, that’s really powerful. Arguably, particularly if you’re a prospective client, and you’re able to see all the great things that the advisers clients have said about them. Thanking clients for reviewing you is really important. Particularly if that’s helped you achieve a particular milestone, such as perhaps Top Rated status on our platform, or it could be a particular number of reviews, or that kind of thing. We spoke a lot earlier about getting the message, right. And our referral generator tool, which I’ll show you is… it offers some ideas. Frankly, whether you’re a VouchedFor member or not, there’s some, hopefully some food for thought within this. So what this is, is an email that our members can choose to trigger, to a selection of their clients. It comes from VouchedFor. What it does, it thanks the client for leaving a review for the adviser, in this case. And says what that’s helped them achieve. It’s helped him qualify as a Top Rated adviser in 2022, Top Rated financial adviser guide that we published. It then recaps our mission to help everyone access the best advice to them, and says, “To that end, we’d be very grateful if you would introduce Adam, to anyone, you know, who may need help with their finances by sharing a unique link below, which links through to all of his reviews.” So why is this message powerful? You know, why does it generate engagement? There’s a couple of thoughts here. So firstly, it’s sort of, it’s personalised. The client gets the sense that they’re part of your success. They’ve been a key part. Their review has had an impact and helped you, in this case, qualify for our guide. That’s really important. Secondly, as previously covered, the client is able to see that it’s not just them who thinks that you’re great. Their review was one of many, that helped you achieve that status, which builds their confidence to refer. Thirdly, anyone that your client forwards this on to, would be able to see that it’s not just your client – their friend – who thinks that you’re great, but others do as well. And I think a really key point here, and I often see advisers get this slightly wrong, is positioning client recommendations in terms of, kind of, the mission. The mission of helping more people access advice. You guys on the call know better than anyone the power of great advice. And the massive problem we have in this country with the fact that far too many people who could benefit from advice, are yet seek it out, due to lack of confidence, whatever it might be. And I think it’s so important to get that across. The fact that actually recommending an advisor, is something that clients can do to help their friends – help the people that they know – as opposed to a way to help the adviser grow their business. I think, you know, conveying that is so incredibly important, in how you position recommendations. I hope that was useful. That’s everything from us. Delighted to take any further questions that I think you had. I don’t know if we’ll pause for questions now. We’ll go into your other slides Phil.
Phil Bray 44:29
Dan, shall we… if you want to take your screenshare off guys, I’m gonna share my screen again. Hopefully everyone can see that – Dan, is that looking okay?
Dan Campbell 44:46
Yeah, looks good to me.
Phil Bray 44:47
Cool. So, this is the case, it’s always the case with Yardstick webinars. We want to leave you with some practical things that you can go away and embed in your business. Things that you can actually do to make a genuine difference. I think what Alex and Connor have been saying about the correlation between, speaking to clients more frequently, and advocacy is really important. It would be interesting to note, the additional workload that maybe doing four annual review meetings would place on a planner, probably not necessarily the most realistic thing in the world. So what I did was, I put together a few thoughts about additional touch points, you can pull into your processes, and all of these can be put into a process. So, speaking to clients doesn’t necessarily, I guess – I might be wrong, Connor – but it doesn’t necessarily mean meetings. You could be picking the phone up. And picking the phone up – and all these points – just show that you care. Genuinely shows that you care, and it does give the client the opportunity to come back with any concerns they’ve got at that time. So potentially firms could diarise quick calls, diarise quick check ins to clients, maybe they weren’t expected. And those quick check ins could be, it could be a WhatsApp message, if your client uses WhatsApp. Actually, in our client surveys that we do on behalf of advisers and planners, 80% – 90% of clients are using WhatsApp. It’s a massive communication tool, and a massively untapped communication tool. So, quick check ins, scheduling little unexpected calls, I think are really important. Other ways of talking to clients; webinars and events. Seeing more and more firms do webinars. I was on a call with a firm yesterday, who were doing a webinar a quarter, for their clients and prospects. And they’re going really well. Generating great feedback from clients, no doubt improving advocacy, and giving a touchpoint with the prospect. And it’s terrible phrase but walking them up that value ladder, until they’re ready to jump off a webinar, onto a meeting. So webinars; relatively low cost to put on, relatively easy to do. I shouldn’t be saying that, we’re running a webinar! They’re really difficult to do. They take ages to organise. But no, no, really, they’re not too difficult really. And then events. As we move into the year, hopefully we can do more face to face events. Chatting to one firm who did a garden party, in September, that’s more than paid for itself in recommendations from new clients, from – directly from – that that garden party. Other touchpoints, newsletters. Quarterly isn’t enough on newsletters. We’ve talked to firms who say, “I don’t want to bombard my clients.” Well, if you’re in that mind, then maybe… the content isn’t valuable. So if you’re adding value, do it 12 times a year, rather than four times a year? If you’re not adding value, you shouldn’t be sending a newsletter in the first place. So, a quarterly touchpoint with the newsletter – again, really important. Another thing I see firms not doing, is connecting and engaging with clients on social media. So if you have a list of clients, go and find them on LinkedIn. Go and find them on Facebook. Some of them might be on Twitter as well. And engage with them! Connect with them. Share their content. Comment on their content. Make yourself useful to them. And again, another little touchpoint. “I saw this and thought of you” messages. You really know your client, you know whether they like cricket, football, rugby. Whether they’re theatre or cinema goers – or whatever it is – you know your clients. So, if you see something that you think your clients will be interested in, do a little, “I saw this thought of you,” message. Really, really important. “Top 10 films of 2020,” or “Top 10 films that are coming in 2020.” If you know you’ve got a client who is a film buff – send them the link. So there’s your little, “I saw this and thought of you” messages. And then create more wow moments. In the invite for this webinar, we talked about the fact that you can’t create advocacy by just sending a birthday card, or Christmas card. Send more wow moments, or create them, I should say. So your clients children’s graduate – send the child something. It’s your clients golden wedding anniversary. Send them something. Just the fact that you knew, and the fact that you did something about it, really will impress clients, and as I say, start to create advocates. And those wow moments, you can diarise them on your back office system. You can build processes, and can work brilliantly. As Alex said earlier, correlations in advocacy and reviews. You’ve got that point about the fact that when you’re quiet… when someone leaves you a review, they’re going to read the other reviews. I thought that was a brilliant point, and really, really important. So – I’m just conscious of time – we would always use Google and VouchedFor, really important that we use both platforms. In our experience, for every one Google review a firm gets, they’ll get three or four on VouchedFor. It’s easier to get reviews on VouchedFor, than it is Google, frankly. But Google is still important. And that should be done by running an initial project. And then, amending your processes to keep them topped up. Really, really important that. And, two other things. Regularly reminding clients, the purpose of financial planning and their aspiration. This time last year, we did a webinar with Carl Richards, and Carl talked really well about that. And I’ll include a link to what Carl said, in the follow up to today’s, because I thought that was really, really powerful. And then constantly prove to your clients, that they’re on track and remind them. Connor, you talked about there being a correlation, between being on track and advocacy. So we need to remind them about, well, what we’re on track to do? And that’s about purpose. And Carl talked about putting the purpose on the front of the plan. And then reminding them that they’re on track. And using checklists; Carl’s really good on this, and again, I’ll put that link in. Brett Davidson is really good on checklists. So using checklists to show everything that you do. And Carl, in that video, talked about that 17 point checklist. I’ll put the… I’ll put a link to the video in the follow up to this. But use checklists, really important. And finally, Connor, you talked about correlation, between advocacy and talking about recommendations. And people need to… Planners and advisers need to consistently have that recommendation conversation. It’s really telling, Connor, your stats about how few advisers, how infrequently advisers do it. Can’t remember the number, but it was sub 10%, that do it on a regular basis. And there’s a conversation to be had – we’re not asking – but there’s a conversation to be had, at introduction meetings, at sign up meetings and review meetings. And there’s ways of doing it. There’s ways of doing it, that have proved to work. And there’s ways of doing it, that actually approved to alienate people. And a quick 20 second plug. In today’s… when we send out the recording from today, there will be a special offer to everybody who signed up for today’s webinar, to attend our next recommendation workshop. We ran one in December. We’ll be running another one in the next few weeks. And that recommendation workshop, talks about the theory of recommendations. It also talks about the Dirty Dozen, which are 12 reasons why advisers and planners get fewer referrals than they should. And we talk about the things you can do to solve the Dirty Dozen. We talk about best practice, talk about how to have the conversation; the six steps to structure that conversation. What doesn’t alienate clients, what does. And, we also talk about the role of incentives, whether it’s charitable donations, travel vouchers, as Phillip was talking about. So quick plug for that, we will give a discount on the next recommendation workshop, to everybody who is on this webinar. So that’s me. I’m conscious that a few questions for Dan to work through. I’ve got a question for Alex and Connor, which we’ll come to as well. I’ll leave these slides up these next couple of slides, so everyone’s got our contact details. And we go from there. Dan, over to you.
Dan Campbell 53:27
Brilliant. So, let’s see how many of these questions we can work through. So I’ll start with the more commonly asked ones. So we’ve got two that essentially ask, “Does contact with the wider team help plan advocacy? Or is it only with the adviser?” And let’s put that to Alex and Connor first, and then we’ll field it to Phil? I’m sure he’ll have a view as well.
Conor McCutcheon 53:51
So yeah, my view on that is that ultimately, if you look at the client experience drivers, which are measuring things like confidence they’re on track to achieve goals, frequency of communication. Various other things, like how clear they are on documents – and such like – the wider team has a really important part to play in driving all of those. The feedback we are collecting is specifically about the adviser rather than that wider team. But the wider team’s efforts are definitely reflected in the results.
Dan Campbell 54:26
Yeah, that’s great. Phil, what’s your view?
Phil Bray 54:29
I don’t think I’ve got a lot to add to Alex there, to be honest. I agree with Alex.
Dan Campbell 54:35
Brilliant. So let’s have the next question from Joy. Now, Joy asks a brilliant question. So, “Many of these strategies seem mostly relevant to the adviser / client relationship. Is there anything you can add, regarding the referral advocacy process with professional connections?”
Alex Whitson 54:57
Absolutely, if I can jump in with it quick thought on this. It’s a great question joy. I saw a study recently – I can’t recall the source, but I’ll try and find it so that we can share it afterwards – but it pointed to the fact that the single biggest barrier to professional referrals, is not that the accountants or solicitors in question, already have adviser relationships in place. It’s trust. It’s simply wanting to be absolutely sure, that their clients are going to have a great experience. And so to that end, you know, all the social proof points that we’ve been talking about, all that right messaging, etc., it’s very powerful with professional connections, as much as it is with clients.
Dan Campbell 55:42
Yeah, that’s great. And, Phil, what would you add regarding professional connections, referrals?
Phil Bray 55:47
I think there’s probably a series of webinars we could do, on the back of professional connection webinars. But I agree with Alex, it comes down to trust. We did a webinar with Dave Seager who’s ex-SIFA Pro. I’ll put a link in the follow up to this webinar in that. And Dave talked a lot about that. Yeah, you’re right – it’s trust. But it’s a whole range of other factors as well. I might do that on a separate webinar.
Dan Campbell 56:16
Yeah, that’s the conclusion of a lot of these webinars, isn’t it? It’s spawned so many more in the future, which is always a good thing. Phil, let’s have your question next.
Phil Bray 56:25
So I’m going to just go on a side tangent, if that’s okay? Question for obviously, Connor and Alex. We talked about getting online ratings and reviews being really important. Clearly, a notch up from that is qualifying for the guide; the Top Rated guide? And as we’ve got a bunch of people on this call, who no doubt would have qualified for the Top Rated guide. I just thought we could spend a couple of minutes if that’s okay, Alex and Connor, just talking about next steps. When’s it getting published? What assets are going to be available? Just what are the next steps for the Top Rated guide?
Alex Whitson 56:58
Yes, absolutely. So essentially, at the moment, we’re in the process of confirming exactly who’s qualified both at adviser and firm level. You may have seen us tagging some qualifiers on social media. So look out for those. And you know, if you are one of the advisers or firms tagged, do share it – you can see that it’s generating a lot of buzz. Secondly, in early Feb, we will make a variety of kind of free Top Rated tools available, to any advisers and firms that have qualified. Added to that, their profiles on VouchedFor will list the fact that they’re Top Rated 2022. So again, there’s lots of opportunities to share those with your clients. There’s also the option to buy some sort of additional tools, such as our trophy, glossy copies of the guide, that sort of thing. Our Top Rated store has recently opened. So, look out for that. We’re also going to share various tips over the next few weeks, on how to really leverage Top Rated status, and make the most of it, with prospects, with clients, with professional connections as well. And I’d thoroughly recommend reading Phils’ blogs on the subject as well, which are fantastic and very useful. The guide itself will be published on the 26th of March, and will be distributed nationally in The Times, to their readership of just over a million. And then, after that it will be published in digital form, through our various media partners. And we’ll also be doing some PR around it; we’ll share extensively on our social channels, and encourage advisers as well to make the most of it, and to tell their various contacts about the fact they’ve qualified.
Phil Bray 58:35
Thanks Alex, that’s really useful.
Dan Campbell 58:37
Right, so the main bulk of questions have been answered. Let’s have one more, shall we? And then we can wrap up. So let’s combine two questions into one. Let’s be a bit cheeky. So question from Philip, who asks, “Have you done this research for everyone on VouchedFor? How can we find out who’s passionate, and how many passionate clients we have?” And then I’m also going to ask Andrews question, with, “How can we access the research data for our clients?” So question is: Who have we asked? How can we find out who’s passionate? And then how do we access research data for our clients in particular?
Conor McCutcheon 59:22
So shall I answer who have we asked, and then hand over to Alex?
Alex Whitson 59:26
Conor McCutcheon 59:27
So we have included some of these questions, in all of the review forms on VouchedFor. We will sort of – and we always have – made changes to the review forms, to try to get to the best combination of questions, to showcase the client experience; showcase and understand the client experience that advisers deliver. And this is just sort of an evolution of that, so there’s no change there. However, the full set of questions is only asked, to advisers who are on Safeguard, and I’ll maybe pass to Alex to answer the other bits of the question.
Alex Whitson 1:00:10
Yeah, absolutely. So there were a few questions. Philip, Elaine and Andrew sort of, who I know are all VouchedFor members with great reviews. So put simply, yes, as Connor says, some of the insights that we’ve talked about can be gleaned from the kind of the standard VouchedFor review form. But in order to access all the insights from VouchedFor, we need to add extra questions in, we need to give you access to various dashboards. There is an additional cost to do all that. It currently works out at £30 per advisor, per month. That’s our our pioneer rate. And we’ll follow up with each of you afterwards, to share exactly how you can go about getting involved, if you’d like to.
Phil Bray 1:00:49
How are we doing, Dan?
Dan Campbell 1:00:54
Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. So most of those questions… I saw Alex has been answering some of the more “techy” ones directly, with the text answers in the Q&A box. So Alex and Connor, are there any that you’ve seen on the Q&A box remaining that you’d like to address? Or… many of them seem to be quite repetitive of what we’ve already just covered?
Phil Bray 1:01:17
That was one question on the chat, that I can see from Tracy Ann, about sending details of signing up for VouchedFor? And also, I think Tom mentioned about how he signs up for VouchedFor as well.
Dan Campbell 1:01:30
That’s it. Yeah, just come through. So, Tom says, “Having never used VouchedFor, what’s the easiest way to start? Is it as simple as registering and setting up a profile?”
Conor McCutcheon 1:01:39
Yeah, so simply go to “vouchedfor.co.uk”, and then click Sign Up in the top right. And then there’s a form you can fill out, and then one of the team will be in touch, and help explain how the platform works, and how you can progress to verified membership if you’d like to. So, you can do that or alternatively, if you prefer, feel free to email me at “a.whitson….” I’ll stick it in the chat actually. “email@example.com” Appreciate we’ve covered a lot of ground today. So there might be sort of specific questions you have, before deciding whether to get involved. Just sent to panellists, that’s no good. You guys already know that.
Phil Bray 1:02:22
We’ll share your details as well, Alex, on the show notes. Right. Any more for any more, Dan?
Dan Campbell 1:02:35
One question that I did see in the chat a little bit earlier on actually, from Ravi, who we know – so that that’s why his name popped up. I can’t find the exact question, but I know the gist was, “Can estate planners become part of VouchedFor as well? Or is it just financial advisers and planners?”
Conor McCutcheon 1:02:55
Estate planners… It depends really, on the type of estate planning you do? So there’s a lot of financial advisers on VouchedFor who specialise in IHT planning, and such like, and are absolutely listed on the platform. The key criteria is that they need to be CF30 qualified, and authorised by the FCA; either as a senior manager, or under SMCR.
Phil Bray 1:03:21
Thank you, Alex. Thank you to everybody who attended today. I really hope you found it useful. It was a great start. I mean, Alex and Connor are on here to… great start to our webinar programme for 2022. And as I said, we’ll send out a recording. We’ll send out all the bits and bobs we talked about; the link to Alex’s email address, etc. We’ll send out the discount deal, for the next recommendation workshop. And obviously, we’ll see you next month for Februarys is webinar. See you soon everybody. Thanks, Alex. Thanks, Connor. Cheers Dan. See you soon.
Dan Campbell 1:03:56
Thanks, guys. Bye.
Alex Whitson 1:03:57
Conor McCutcheon 1:03:57
Thank you very much.
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