Having joined Para-Sols team in Summer 2019 from a role in Insurance and having previously run his own wedding and events company before that, our Client Relations Manager, Dwight Scaife is well placed to empathise with our clients who run their own IFA firms.
We spoke to Dwight to find out about the parallels between his previous experiences and his current role at Para-Sols…
“I co-ran a wedding and event hire business for 5 years and then worked in insurance before joining Para-Sols. Both roles were very focused on client-facing and guiding clients through a journey.
At first, I thought that my previous experience of running an owner-managed business would be irrelevant, as it was in a different sector, liaising with hotels and engaged couples organising weddings and functions – weddings are a world away from Financial Services, or so I thought.
There are numerous similarities between the sectors in terms of business operations and it quickly became clear that the role of running my own business and liaising with financial advisers for Para-Sols are strikingly similar. When I’m speaking with the smaller adviser-owned businesses that contact Para-Sols, I find it extremely helpful to have had the experience of running my own business and of being self-employed. I can identify with the problems and struggles that they encounter.
What they are looking to achieve, by contacting Para-Sols, in terms of streamlining their process, saving money and generating time, or just having some additional support, are all positives that any business strives for. These same key themes appear in many of the conversations I have with them and are often the reason for the initial contact.
We’re approached by a new prospective client for various reasons, one of which being that they have experienced, or are anticipating, an increase in case volumes, so have too much work for their current resource levels and are struggling to service the client numbers. Their current process may have become slow and cumbersome, leaving them with a potential ‘bottleneck’ within the business, leading to inefficiencies. There may have been a change in staffing in terms of administrative support staff, or a current paraplanner change. It may simply be that the business has experienced a growth phase and so needs to bring in additional resources to cope with the increased client numbers, and to assist in maintaining that growth.
For larger firms, the reason for contact could be a merger with another firm to generate a spike in workflow, or a maternity cover scenario.”
Streamlining the process
At Para-Sols, we actively assist our clients by offering an Admin Service for sending off and chasing LOA’s and carrying out research. This part of our overall service is something that our smaller clients really benefit from, as we work with them to establish a process to ensure they get the most from being a Para-Sols client. We usually find that they don’t have the time or resources to complete this work themselves. Whether it be contacting providers on their behalf, or retrieving documents from their back-office system, we have processes and systems in place that can streamline the advice journey and really make life easier for them.
The equivalent of this in my previous capacity would be that we formed working relationships with hotels and event venues. This ensured the venues wouldn’t need to source their own suppliers for every function, as once the relationship with us had been established, then they became to rely on us and knew that we would provide the staff and services to cover their functions as needed. The process would be further streamlined if the couple were looking to book their own suppliers as the hotel would recommend us and as our Insurances and Documentation were already in place with them, then the whole process would be incredibly smooth and efficient. We know the venue and they know us, simple really!
Save Time to generate more clients
Previously in the wedding and event hire business, I was solely in charge of liaising with new enquiries, going out to client appointments and then co-ordinating the actual event hire logistics and maintaining those relationships with external suppliers and venues. Wearing this many ‘hats’ sometimes meant that new enquiries would be responded to slightly slower than hoped, due to the pressures of ensuring the existing client’s needs and function requirements were in place.
Having a service in place like Para-Sols would have been hugely beneficial (not that we had a lot of suitability reports to write!) in terms of co-ordinating the specifics of the event and completing the core function of the business once the client was on-board. Time was something I never had enough of and this often led to business development and potential company growth taking a back seat, as the actual core function and client care was carried out. The process worked well though, in terms of the clients already liaising with the same person throughout the journey, but was restrictive at times from a company perspective.
Sometimes an enquiry can be price-driven, there’s no getting away from it! Prospective clients are maybe already outsourcing but are looking to move purely to save money. We get it, we live in the real world! Whilst we strive to maintain a competitive fee structure, at Para-Sols we don’t use fees as the primary reason for clients to join us, as you ‘get what you pay for!’ That being said, our fixed fee case costs and 20% off CashCalc subscriptions deal, do mean clients are happy to join us. There’s also the added bonus for smaller firms that they can often cancel some subscriptions including Select A Pension, FE Analytics and Techlink, as we have our own accounts for them.
Cost driven enquiries also occur with our larger client enquiries as they cross the bridge of ‘hire or outsource’, but we’ll cover that in another blog.
In my previous role, I became the contact for clients to liaise with if they had any queries in terms of their function arrangements. Whether it was checking the times, dates, places, costs, people or services involved, it was important to be able to reassure them and provide the necessary details when required.
At Para-Sols, we take client care very seriously and pride ourselves on the long-term relationships we’ve forged with our clients over the past 11 years. It’s a reassuring voice at the end of the phone when a client contacts us that we find is a really valuable asset and one of the key areas of the positive feedback we receive. All of our 19 paraplanners are officed based and can be reached by phone during office hours every week. It’s that accessibility and the structure of our ‘teams within teams’ that our clients love. All our clients are assigned a ‘hub’, which is a small core team within that our larger team. This ensures consistency and that they liaise with the same staff repeatedly regarding cases and are able to build relationships with our team. We get to know their preferences and working style and they know who they will be working with, so it’s a win-win!
All of the above points just help to highlight that we’re all just people (obvious I know!), but when there’s a business need to be identified and that need can be met through collaboration with another business to achieve mutually beneficial gains, then it’s the ideal scenario. If the need happens to be outsourced paraplanning then Para-Sols are the perfect solution, feel free to contact us and it’ll be me that you’ll chat with. If you’re looking for a photo booth or some car insurance, however, unfortunately, I’m no longer the right person to speak to!