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Forward Thinking Magazine : August 2010
23 23 Written by Richard Gibbs, Global Head of Economics, Macquarie Group growth strategies Best practice service models It is easy to think that a cutting-edge service model means simply maintaining a high level of contact with clients. But a fully-formed service model is much more sophisticated than merely keeping in touch with clients regularly. “It is true great service is very personalised, high-touch and intimate, at least for one segment of the client base. But a robust service model also includes a significant amount of automation,” says Liz McCarthy, Head of Macquarie Practice Consulting. “Great client service is all about managing the expectations of clients. The idea is to understand the level of service clients require and to design an appropriate service model for each client segment,” she says. For some clients, this will mean keeping in very regular touch. For others, it will mean less regular contact. Often, the level of service will depend on the life stage of the client. For example, accumulators will not generally require the high level of service pre-retirees and retirees need (unless of course they are facing a specific issue.) According to Ms McCarthy, “It is about knowing the segment into which each client fits and understanding the level of service clients in each segment require.” Superior business-to-business networking The results of Macquarie Practice Consulting’s benchmarking survey showed that the number one concern for planners is attracting new clients; either organically, or through acquisition. Although great business development is about generating individual leads from clients, it is also essential to develop business-to-business referral systems with complementary firms such as lawyers and accountants. Results from the benchmarking survey show that 70 per cent of financial planning boutique firms seek referrals from accountants, compared to 43 per cent from legal firms and 30 per cent from professional associates. “The idea is to develop relationships with a cross section of accounting and legal firms over time so that you generate a constant stream of referrals. Firms that do this successfully can pick the best referrals, which increases the quality of the business,” says Ms McCarthy. It is important to remember it takes time to develop a great referral base of likeminded businesses. It might take many meetings, even years before a potential referrer will pass on a lead. The idea is to foster relationships over time and be patient rather than pushy. “Great networking is all about investing in relationships and having honest conversations during difficult periods. For example, during the recent period of market volatility the best advisers were open to having upfront and proactive conversations with their referral base about what they were doing for clients during the market downturn,” she explains, adding, “It is important to be strategic about the firms you target as potential sources of referrals. Make sure you identify firms with a great reputation and with a similar client base and culture to your own.” Read this story to receive CPD points. Simply log on to macquarie.com.au /ftmagazine Written by By Alexandra Cain, Journalist