‘Having a fight is a really good business tool,’ says Richard Skerritt over a first-class fry-up at The Savoy Hotel. Thankfully, the managing director of Brighton-based Skerritt Consultants is reflecting on his 2016 charity boxing match, and not suggesting we slug it out over three rounds after a full English.
Skerritt’s bout raised £82,000 for charity. But there were personal lessons to be learned too, stemming from the intensive training he undertook with former professional mixed martial arts fighter Sol Gilbert.
‘It’s amazing how much more I was doing at work,’ he says, reflecting on his months of hard graft. ‘That level of exercise really does make you much sharper and keener. I was driving everyone mad.’
Packing a punch
Skerritt reflects that the work he had to put in to be ready for the fight is similar to what good IFAs must do. ‘If we’re building up to see a big new client, it’s all down to the preparation,’ he says.
‘I think it helps to show what you need for a business meeting. It’s very easy to show up and try to wing it, buy you’ve got to put in time and effort beforehand. It’s always worthwhile.’
It was certainly worthwhile for Skerritt in his 2016 duel. In the first round, he sent his opponent to the canvas multiple times, and the referee swiftly brought an end to proceedings.
‘A lot of people would have ribbed me forever if I’d lost so I took no chances,’ he says. ‘I went in as prepared as I could be.’ The mildly terrifying video evidence, which I have seen, backs this up.
This attitude has also led to continued business success for Skerritt Consultants. This year the firm launched its own unitised funds, which have attracted £135 million in investment.
‘Our first year target was £100 million,’ he notes. The firm also passed £1 billion in assets under advice this year; an achievement marked by ‘billionaire shortbreads’ being sent to clients and professional contacts.
Skerritt reveals a handful of clients did not get to enjoy the baked treats. ‘Some said their mail had been attacked by their dogs,’ he says with a laugh. ‘Two of our clients said: "you’ve sent me something but I’m not sure what it was".’ Let this be a lesson to any advisers looking to send cakes to their clients.
Up for the fight
Skerritt says too many good IFAs underestimate the amount of extra learning it takes to run a business. ‘You sometimes see really good IFAs who don’t run the business properly, or don’t know a lot about running a business,’ he says.
‘That’s the difference we see. Most businesses fail, but if you’re a good IFA you might think you can do it yourself, without knowing exactly what’s involved.’
As breakfast draws to a close, the takeaway is this: preparation is vital, learn the fundamentals of running a business, and pick up some gloves and look for a scrap.
OK, I am kidding about the last part, but Skerritt does mention he hopes to enter the ring for one last match, which is likely to take place next year. ‘It’ll definitely be my last fight, but I said that last time,’ he says. ‘There’s an itch that hasn’t been scratched yet.’