This article is taken from our autumn 2023 edition of Equinox. You can view the full version here.
When Rachel Griffiths joined our marketing team, like all great marketers do, she stood firmly in the shoes of our clients and began asking seemingly simple and innocuous questions. That was over two and a half years ago now, but it started us on a journey that has grown exponentially and created something that I believe will be transformative for our clients and business.
Rachel’s initial work led to the most eloquent definition of how we do what we do:
“We help our clients to live the life they want, to look after those they love, and to leave a powerful legacy.”
While this sums up our approach perfectly, it doesn’t come close to covering what we do to achieve this.
To address this question, Rachel started to look at EVERYTHING we currently do, could potentially do and have done for our clients. This encompassed everything from the important conversations that are held, ensuring all legal documents are in place, informing and educating, to guiding clients into making some powerful choices.
It became clear that there were 19 modules/topics that we wanted our clients to experience with us before we could honestly say that we have done all that we could to make their
lives better. I vividly recall my initial reaction when I first laid eyes on this list – a mixture of amazement, trepidation and excitement. In our 28 years of business, we have never captured the full scope of our services.
My initial amazement turned into trepidation as I soon realised that refining the list, creating a program of experiences and then rolling it out to every client would be a monumental undertaking.
However, it wasn’t long before excitement took hold because I could clearly see that if we were successful in doing so, it would have a huge impact on our clients and team, creating a ripple effect that would ultimately enhance the lives of many.
It clearly highlighted that – for now at least – we don’t do everything that we can do for every client, we don’t have a methodology for working out what clients need and when, and the depth of delivery was inconsistent.
So, I embarked on a mission to refine these modules into client experiences and create a formula that would ensure that we do our very best work for every client in ALL ways.
We have named this project “Dragonfly” – an important symbol in many cultures, often representing rebirth, change, happiness and financial gain as well as insight.
In the mystical world, dragonflies point towards a deep energy and expression of the soul, urging one to be open to change and transformation, breaking free of old patterns, and paving the way to freedom and new beginnings. A perfect metaphor for what we are looking to achieve here.
It is only right that we equip our clients with the right level of education, insight and knowledge so that they have complete confidence and clarity about their money and what it can do for them.
The original 19 experiences have now been condensed into just 12 that make people’s lives better. These have been split between five core experiences that we believe everybody will benefit from to varying degrees, and seven situational experiences as life unfolds and situations change. The full list is below:
Unfortunately, there isn’t enough space here to describe each one in detail, so I will share the core experiences and a couple of the situational ones. Rest assured, there will be plenty of content to come.
This is your life
Every client in the future will receive a robust financial plan. This will be a living, breathing document that doesn’t just sit on a shelf but instead is used and updated to empower all financial decisions. It will encompass every aspect of your life, serving as your roadmap. It will focus on “living the life you want to live, looking after those that you love, and leaving a powerful legacy”.
Your outcome: Gain the confidence and clarity that your financial plan aligns with your life’s aspirations.
Volatility – victim or victor
Markets are, by nature, volatile but by understanding past behaviour, we can ensure that our clients are not surprised by the expected. Clients will gain a heightened awareness of the numbers under prevailing market conditions. As the saying goes, knowledge is power, and our aim is to provide an in-depth level of knowledge about how one’s own personal mix of investments may perform in different cycles, good and bad.
Your outcome: We will share our strategy on potential returns, giving you confidence in the figures underpinning your financial plan. This will empower you to take advantage of volatility rather than being a victim of it.
Money in mind
Once you have your financial plan in place and have a sufficient level of knowledge about markets and returns, then you need to move on to think about how your hard-wired emotional and mental biases can kick in to negatively impact your decisions and your overall feeling of wellbeing.
Your outcome: You can experience an overall sense of financial wellbeing, comfort and confidence. By taking the time to understand your own psychology, it will ultimately help you to make better decisions.
Nearest and dearest
Once you are happy that you are living the life you want, who are your nearest and dearest that you would like to support?
We will explore all the different options looking at the when, how and why.
We can help facilitate some of the courageous conversations that might need to take place and help coordinate the sharing of information.
Your outcome: Gain peace of mind knowing that you are best supporting those you love, so that the right people get the right help at the right time, all delivered in the right way.
Law in order
We will ensure that all the legal documents are stored in one place, along with the necessary information and guidance needed. This way, when these documents are needed, the process is as stress-free, efficient and as low-cost as it can possibly be.
The key to this section is our unique ‘dress rehearsal,’ during which we review how everything will work in the event of yours and/or your partner’s death, so that all the documents work in the real world.
Your outcome: You feel secure in the knowledge that your financial plan is supported with the correct legal paperwork for the outcome you want.
At times, life events force us to step into a new role that we are unfamiliar and uncomfortable with. For those taking on the responsibility of managing money for the first time, maybe due to retirement, bereavement, inheritance or divorce, we will start from the beginning, providing need-to-know basic knowledge in an interesting and engaging way.
Your outcome: Following this supportive introduction, you can speak and understand the lingo, armed with sufficient (and more for those who want it!) information to make sound financial decisions.
Relishing or resisting retirement
Retirement is one of the biggest life shifts anyone will ever make. We will draw upon our extensive experience of working with hundreds of clients over the last three decades to make the transition as smooth as possible.
Your outcome: You can look forward to your retirement, confident about the transition ahead, knowing you have enough to live on and live for. Each experience will be delivered in a range of formats that best suit the subject. While a masterclass event will form the basis of many, others will be delivered during your adviser meetings, or perhaps through a series of short videos and written guides.
It is our aim to allow people to engage in the way that works best for them. If each of the 12 modules is approximately two hours of content, then that’s 24 hours of time, which could easily be overwhelming for you as our client. Our program will be based on the “diagnose and then prescribe” methodology. We will assess what we believe you need, when you need it, and to what depth. For instance, is it sections two and four of ‘Rapid responsibility’ or all of it? What delivery method do we recommend—written text, video, masterclass, or one-to-one? What takes precedence as the highest priority?
I have had the privilege of informally testing various aspects of this program and the feedback to date has been really encouraging. Whilst it is still very much a work in progress rather than a work of art it is now quickly starting to come together.
No other financial planning organisation has ever attempted to provide such an overarching, comprehensive, and integrative program for their clients. I firmly believe this provides us with a unique position in the market. For me, this embodies how I always thought financial planning should be – closely connected to the life of each client. It will certainly make all our lives better and as the saying goes: “You can never do wrong by doing the right thing.”
The trepidation has gone and now I am simply excited to see the positive impacts we can make.
If you have any further questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. If you’re a client you can reach us on 0161 486 2250 or by getting in touch with your usual Equilibrium contact. For all new enquiries please call 0161 383 3335.