As I run my own business, I get to chose how to do things. Certainly there are many things that I have to do, many that I ought to do, but there is an awful lot that is left entirely to my own discretion. Like all good businesses (well, those that plan to be around and able to serve their clients in a sustainable fashion) I have to run a profitable company, with good systems and controls, where business risk is well managed. Those that don’t run a business take this as a given and rarely think about the importance of it. As a result I do not compete on price. Yes that means some people cannot afford our services. Competing on price only leads to one eventual outcome – a monopoly. It will not surprise you that I do not have the deep pockets to dominate financial planning in the UK.
The price of things is odd, most of us like to feel that we have spent our money wisely, but on occasion we know that we haven’t – for example, buying a new car. Mathematical madness – due to the immediate turn key depreciation, yet many of us do it – perhaps for a wide variety of “other reasons”. The actual price is only part of the value. In any industry where it is very easy to compare identical products or services, price becomes largely “all important”. However when things are bespoke, price is much more about a reflection of value.
When I take on a new client I am looking for someone that I like. That I can help, that wants and needs my help and who wants a long-term relationship. He or she needs to be comfortable with me making a profit. Obviously my job is to improve their financial well-being too – but sometimes, (with greater frequency) I advise clients to spend more and save rather less. This is because we have worked on their big picture and noted some key goals, being able to take action is more important than merely having goals. So sometimes, I actually help clients reduce their wealth.
As I have long-term relationships with clients, it is important that we like one another. If we don’t then things will not go well and frankly life is too short for me to work with people that I don’t like. This isn’t always easy to assess at the outset of course. Some think that a typical Waitrose shopper is likely to be “target client” for me…. perhaps. However, I am surprised at the rudeness that people display to serving staff. As my daughter has begun her mandatory shop floor life experience it is disappointing to hear of the abuse and rudeness that Waitrose staff regularly receive from “customers”. Yes, we all make mistakes and probably all slip up from time to time, but lacking any patience or simply being rude to those serving you as a default position, is not an attribute I like and I really don’t mind how many “ideal client” boxes are ticked, we won’t work well together, so let’s not start. This does not mean that everyone I like works with me – after all I have to be able to provide a valued service profitably, it is not for everyone. Perspective is everything.
Dominic Thomas – Solomons IFA