Recruitment of a practice manager is the biggest issue right now for the 2018 New Model Adviser® Top 100 business. ‘Once we have a practice manager in place it will make succession look more realistic,’ says Barthorp.
They want a practice manager to create and oversee processes and procedures and, according to the job specification, ‘act as an integrator between the partners and the rest of the team’.
More business owners appear to be employing business managers who are not advisers to run their businesses. Barthorp joins several New Model Adviser® cover stars who have spotted the business sense in this, as the day-to-day running of a business is not necessarily an adviser’s greatest talent.
Ermin Fosse’s practice manager role follows the creation of a client relationship manager (CRM) in 2017. The CRM role ‘is pretty diverse’, the partners say.
The firm currently employs two CRMs – Hollway’s daughter Lucy King, and Emily Loveridge. They work closely alongside the advisers, processing business, preparing annual client planning meetings and being the first point of contact for clients if they have any questions.
‘It enables us to do more,’ says Hollway. ‘And what fascinated me was what it did for morale. When I talked about an administration job, I thought: “what a dreary thing to do”. OK, it is dreary in some ways but it now also has the client relationship element.’
He describes the CRM role as ‘one of the first steps to succession’. ‘If the client has a greater relationship with the company, the business will have the value rather than me.’
Staff all included working with clients as one of their favourite things about working at Ermin Fosse.
But recruitment is a challenge. Support staff have typically come from the nearest financial services hubs such as Swindon, where companies such as Zurich have offices. And it would be impossible to miss the largest factor for a Cirencester-based IFA: the national administration headquarters of wealth advice giant St James’s Place, ‘our bigger brethren down the road’.
‘It has just built two enormous office blocks and needs people to go in those, so it does soak up a lot of the talent,’ says Barthorp.
A glance at the firm’s website reveals a familiar pattern in the advice profession, with all four financial planner roles filled by men and three women working in support roles.
‘Tell me about it,’ says Barthorp, ‘we are desperate for women advisers to be honest.’
But Barthorp says a specific challenge is that entrepreneurial women advisers prefer to create and run their own businesses rather than joining a partnership like theirs.
‘We might have to nurture someone from within the firm,’ says Barthorp. ‘I feel sorry for women clients looking for women advisers because it is lacking.’