Old Mutual Wealth Private Client Advisers (recently rebranded as Quilter PCA) has made nine acquisitions over the last 12 months. Its director Dominic Rose (pictured) reveals how he makes sure new clients get the best first impression.
Proverbs dating back centuries have spouted that first impressions are the most lasting. When it comes to acquisitions the first time you communicate with a client is when they hear that they are being taken on by a new firm.
Advice, as many people swiftly point out, is a relationship business. This makes the first impression on new clients vital. Clients may have been with the previous firm and adviser for decades and rightly are feeling unsettled by the prospect of a new unknown entity.
However, given we are seeing increasing amalgamation within the advice industry, this is becoming a very real possibility for many clients. The important thing is that clients remain at the heart of any agreement regarding any advice business sale or purchase.
Given the starting point is often one of unease, it’s crucial we start talking to the new clients as soon as we can. Our processes differ depending on whether advisers join us, or are retiring.
For those whose advisers are joining us we emphasize that the relationship with their adviser and also potentially support staff, will remain. This provides re-assurance.
It’s mildly trickier, but readily manageable, for clients of advisers are either retiring or aren’t joining us as they will be facing a change in their face to face relationship.
Coping with change
The last thing we want is any kind of rumour or press telling the client about the acquisition before their current adviser does, as that could lead to worry and confusion about what the acquisitions mean for them.
As soon as the deal is finalised, the first step is to have the business owner call clients to explain the process and why it’s taking place. Do not simply send a letter first as that is too impersonal. They then follow up by sending a letter, confirming further details.
Once the selling businesses have sent a letter, Private Client Advisers follows up with an introductory letter within 24 hours which the clients are expecting as their current adviser told them. We accompany these with phone calls 24 hours later to the clients to arrange face to face meetings. We therefore expect to have spoken to almost every client over the phone within the week of them receiving our letter.
We aim to meet all acquired clients face to face within three months of an acquisition completing. Imagine you are a client, your current adviser calls you and makes the effort to reassure you only for you to then not hear from the new firm; the relationship is already off to a rocky start.
It is important to us that clients don’t feel like they are becoming one of many acquired clients that are thrown together into a firm with no sense of identity. For this reason we do not call ourselves a consolidator.
We acquire likeminded professional advice firms who are either retiring or are looking to become part of a bigger business. However, these acquisitions are targeted so that the client profiles and needs fit and will be met within our firm.
Clients who join us need to feel like they’ve started a new long-term relationship. To achieve this we are careful in how we describe ourselves and introduce ourselves to these clients and we must always deliver on our promises
Quilter is an advice led and therefore a client led business. We want to share our approach in the hope that as an industry we never lose sight of our purpose; to serve our clients. Our tried and tested approach is not rocket science but is all too often lost when people forget that deals fail when you fail to understand what you are acquiring and in our case it is a relationship transfer and not fixed asset.