Five things your network should be giving you monthly

This article first appeared in Professional Adviser.

As well as core regulatory assistance, writes Simon Goldthorpe, advisers should expect a lot more from their parent networks. Here he sets out a list of things networks should be offering their firms on a monthly basis.

There are few things more annoying than getting terrible service for something you spend good money on. According to a 2019Which? Survey, the UK’s main culprits are Ryanair, Scottish Power, BT and TalkTalk, with consumers describing them variously as arrogant, greedy and sneaky.

Having your expectations met and exceeded is key to great service and the lessons learnt in retail and hospitality are no less important in financial services. First Direct, Lakeland and Waitrose regularly perform well in surveys of this kind because they each combine great ‘product’ with knowledgeable and trustworthy staff.

Likewise, great service and an urge to go the extra mile ought to exist at the very heart of an adviser network. So, in addition to its core regulatory function, here are five things you should expect to get from your network every month.

1. Management information

Evidence is critical if you want your business to grow and improve. Only by assessing key metrics can you see where you need to make changes, and so your network should equip you with meaningful, valuable data.

For a start, it should put a Key Performance Indicators (KPI) dashboard in place to help you track your data quickly and efficiently. KPI dashboards are increasingly popular and with good reason: they allow you to choose what you want to monitor on a scheduled basis in order to meet your AR strategic goals in the most efficient way.

As well as supplying this technology, your network should be putting that data into context to reveal exactly what it means – what it says about your firm’s activity, and how well or poorly you are currently performing.

2. Supporting your growth

Part of the role of your network is to support the continued growth of your business. It should therefore present you with a range of potential marketing material that you might not otherwise be able to access.

This, of course, can take a number of forms – from traditional collateral, like brochures and guides, to national public relations and advice on activity you could (or should) be doing locally. At a minimum, you should be receiving regular blogs or articles and other communications that can be used as a marketing tool with prospects and existing connections.

Whichever options are right for you, your network should help you to improve the efficiency and performance of your business while you retain control and independence.

3. Compliance support

Compliance support is a key reason financial planning firms join a network. Doing so removes the regulatory burden of being directly authorised and allows you to concentrate on growing your business in the way you want to.

Meanwhile, your network should interpret FCA and regulatory updates and produce policy and guidance accordingly. It should then continually assess your business to ensure that it meets the required standards and suggest any changes to your process where necessary.

Likewise, the network should always be on-hand to compliance check ‘softer’ aspects, such as marketing collateral.

4. A sense of community

A network is a partnership and so you should expect to feel like part of an adviser community.

At the very least, this means the freedom to contact your support team quickly and to easily access the resources you need to grow your business successfully. But a truly good network will also encourage its advisers to mix – to chat among themselves and build connections. It’s a space in which to connect with and work alongside like-minded people and learn best practice from each other.

5. CPD

The CPD on offer from many providers is limited at best and unlikely to assist with your annual targets.

You should expect your network to be able to leverage its size and contacts to attract a higher quality of speaker. Doing so will help you to complete the required number of hours, and you’ll also get more out of the useful and engaging CPD provided.

Indeed, any one of the above services can significantly boost your business’s ability to grow and realise its potential. But the very best networks will combine all five in a collaborative style that allows your opinions to shape its future practice.

Importantly, resources should always be fronted by transparent service from a team that truly cares about your prospects and outcomes.