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Forward Thinking Magazine : April 2011
17 cover story However, he stresses the most important part of the business is having the right structure in place. His organisation has three main levels: the support team, the client relations managers who look after the administration and remote client support by phone and email; and the financial specialists who deal with all the client-facing activities and generate new business. “We need this structure otherwise our financial specialists just become administrators and deal with work that can be carried out by others,” Jordan says. He adds that while there seems to be a push to diversify within the financial planning industry, it’s important to talk about the different ways diversification can be achieved. “It is not possible or practical to keep up with compliance if you want to offer diversified services and you are a one-man band,” he says. “But there are other ways to diversify, be it through joint ventures, forming relationships or, if you are big enough, by buying a business.” Ian Jordan, The Selector Group While the group offers a number of business services, Jordan says it is crucial to stay focused on each one as an individual unit. He says it is easy for planners to say they can offer everything under the sun but they still need to be able to provide a comprehensive level of service that complies with all the appropriate regulations. Initially, the focus for Selector was on building the mortgages side of the business. After staff were trained in this area, the focus changed to the other services the group offers. Last year, the focus was on real estate and wealth creation. There are 10 employees, including the two directors. The mortgage processing activities are outsourced to India to allow for more effective client management and also to allow the business to be scalable for increased volumes. “We expect to take on three more staff in the next quarter to help with our mortgages and financial planning divisions,” Jordan says. The Selector Group was destined to be a diversified financial services business. It was established in March 2009 after Ian Jordan and Brett Abikhair decided to merge their two companies. Abikhair ran the financial planning and mortgage broking practice Real People Finance, while Jordan had his own mortgage broking and financial planning practice, Blackrange Financial Solutions. Selector offers three types of services: wealth (wealth creation and lifestyle protection), real estate (property search), and mortgages (property finance). It also has an equipment leasing division and this is being rebranded to include corporate finance. Jordan says having a diversified business makes sense because he feels clients are not a ‘single transactional beast’. Rather, their needs require a holistic approach. “We wanted to help clients in all areas of their financial affairs,” he says. “We might not always be able to provide a fit but getting closer to clients is our main aim.” Thinking laterally about client needs is another important way to diversify. “We find that most financial planners say if someone has no cash or assets then they don’t want them as a client. But these people need the most help and often present the most potential.” A major benefit for Jordan of being diversified is that clients know that his company isn’t ‘pushing any particular barrow’. “I call myself an agnostic planner,” Jordan says. “I don’t care if a client wants to buy property or shares or whatever – they can buy both. It is their decision and I’m there to help guide them.” Jordan says there is room for businesses that don’t want to diversify but to survive they probably need to specialise in a particular area – either geographically or have a niche offering. His advice to planners thinking about diversifying is to first find out what their clients are asking for and to do an analysis based on that. “And then think about whether you want to spend time offering a new service internally or if it makes more sense to outsource or form a joint venture with another company.” cover story Case Study cover story