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An IFAs Guide to the Galaxy

\"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.\"

Douglas Adams is best known for writing The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy but he also appears to be an excellent reader of human nature with the above quote being particularly relevant for independent financial advisers. Given the difficulties that have been prevalent for consultants throughout the economic downturn there has been one invaluable lesson that advisers would do well to remember and that relates to the importance of new business development when seeking an IFA job.

Despite the climate financial advisers who had their own means of generating ongoing business were still attractive to financial services companies. In the main these included independent financial advisers who had made concerted efforts throughout the years to seek referral, attain professional connections and undertake other marketing avenues, be it putting on seminars or attending networking events. There are two important implications of this. Firstly such consultants could clearly demonstrate that they posed less financial risk to any prospective employer, being able to contribute to their income levels. As importantly they could also show these companies the type of proactive, committed, can-do attitude that every hiring manager with an IFA vacancy wants to see.

Given the changing nature of the industry (not to mention the questions they are asked at interview) an increased number of our candidates have become aware of their need to be proactive. Whilst the servicing of existing clients continues to be an important skill more and more people have understood the need to take control over their destiny by also generating their own leads. Certainly our experience would show that such advisers have been easier to place than those who admit their reluctance to get involved in self-generation, especially in an increasingly competitive marketplace with increasingly aware clients.

If independent financial advisers have been relying on receiving leads, for example through an internal accountancy connection, then it is highly probable that such leads have diminished. Without the attitude and knowledge relevant to business development then some individuals have often been powerless to stop heavily reduced production levels with the result that redundancies have become the norm. Although not easy if those same IFAs used their understanding of the accountancy arena to develop external links with accountancy firms that donít have their own financial planning team, then the consequences are less likely to be as catastrophic.

In a market upturn though one could certainly expect that the amount of leads being passed on will increase and it would be a shame if proactive advisers abandoned their new found approach, particularly because this is a trait that those with an IFA job are looking for. As an example over the past 12 months those candidates with introducers of business were more in control of the interview process as they knew they would always be receiving some leads and therefore writing business. Of particular note is the fact that irrespective of where you work those relationships are mostly personal and therefore transferable, again attractive to IFA firms on the lookout for new advisers. We also know of firms who want to additionally reward their most dedicated consultants and this has often been through passing on new clients (through acquisition, a new introducer etc) to them. It is those individuals who have proactively sourced their own clients that often receive the most assistance, a real case of self-help.

Therefore in order to prove Mr Adams wrong and protect yourself in the future make sure that when you attend your next interview for an independent financial adviser job you can clearly demonstrate what actions you personally take to develop new business. For the reasons described above our clients want to speak with independent financial advisers who donít just rely on their firm to put business their way. With any recovery likely to be fragile at best it would be an exceptionally prudent approach to take for any consultant seeking a new IFA position.

Put simply; Self generation is a very good habit to get into, but a very easy one to fall out of. Donít let that be you.

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