Every January we hold the First Wealth Why Day. It’s the perfect opportunity to bring the team together, to talk about why we exist, to recommit to our core values and to update the team about our plans for the year.
Our team continues to grow with new talent, and it was great to have both Joy and Ivor talking to us on the day. Both have made a big impression since joining us, so we were keen to find out more about their journey to First Wealth.
Joy (full name Joy Ifeomadinairu Ugboaja) spoke passionately about her Nigerian heritage and the fantastic support she has received from her family along the way. Joy studied Accounting and Finance at Coventry University; where she juggled full time study with part time jobs. In her second year, Joy enrolled in the Wealth Management Mentorship Scheme, where she was mentored by leading financial planner Julie Lord. After finishing her studies, Joy made a direct approach to First Wealth and we were delighted to offer her a place as a Client Relationship Manager, working with Scott Millar.
Ivor was previously a teacher before joining First Wealth; true to form, he clearly set out the learning objectives before starting his presentation! As his career progressed, Ivor became frustrated with the amount of time he was spending outside of the classroom. At this point he made the brave decision to move into financial services to help plan, analyse and make a real difference in people’s lives. Teachings loss is very much a gain for First Wealth and after passing lots of exams in a short period of time, Ivor is supporting (and learning loads from) Claire Phillips in his Technical Analyst role.
As a company that prides itself in diversity, I don’t think we could have had two better speakers. The future of our profession lies with these guys, so it’s fantastic to see just how good they are already!
We try hard to do things differently at First Wealth, so the next talk from Rob Caplan fitted the bill perfectly. Rob set out his logics for why small companies would do well to channel their inner Pirate. His talk focussed on the significant impact the Golden Age of Pirates has had on the world. Beyond the typical Jack Sparrow stereotype lies a number of forward thinking ideas and practices that have helped shape the world we live in today. Read Rob’s blog here.
Our guest speak was the brilliant Neil Bage, founder of behavioural finance software company, Be-IQ. Neil’s passion is human behaviour and trying to understand it; easier said than done! The best financial plan means nothing if clients are unable or unwilling to stick with it. A planners we need to help our clients understand the cognitive biases we all face, identify any blind spots and then help overcome them together.
Neil and Be-IQ have built a fantastic piece of software that we will help identify potential differences in the level of risk a client thinks they are comfortable to take, and the level of risk they are actually willing to accept. The two are not the same. Importantly, the new technology will allow us to send nudge messages at appropriate times, for example, during sustained periods of stock market volatility to reinforce messaging about the benefits of longer term investing and the importance of not hijacking your financial plan based on short term volatility.
We also learned about the important differences between subjective and objective knowledge, and their role in the adviser client relationship. Subjective knowledge is self-beliefs about our own knowledge. In other words, what we think we know. Objective knowledge is accurately stored information, or what we actually know.
Neil describes the important differentiation as follows:
The evidence shows that in risk-based decisions where a person’s subjective knowledge (what they think they know) is much higher than their objective knowledge (what they really do know), people tend to choose risky options when they shouldn’t.
Of course the flip side is also true. People whose subjective knowledge (what they think they know) is much lower than their objective knowledge (what they really do know) will tend to reject risky options when they should be taking them.
In addition to this, people who are overconfident, meaning those with subjective knowledge greater than their objective knowledge, are also less likely to seek out relevant financial information when they should, since they believe they already know what they need to know.
They are more likely to accept or reject financial options inappropriately based on self-beliefs about being ‘financially savvy’ and they are less likely to seek advice from experts, such as a financial planner, when making key financial decisions - all because they think they already have the relevant knowledge and experience to make such decisions.
As financial planners, to be equipped with this information is enormously valuable. We will have access to this software later this month and we’re looking forward to discussing the benefits and application with clients at future planning meetings.
Inspired by the brilliant book by Jean Bliss, would you do that to your Mother?, we ended the day with my slot on customer service, a favourite topic of mine.
We all cherish good service but survey after survey shows enormous differences in our experience as consumers. Many companies provide terrible service; they don’t turn up, don’t tell you what their planning to do, they give you duff information or overcharge you. Sadly, it’s almost become the norm to be awful.
We’re desperate that First Wealth buck the trend and show up as a group of people who care about their clients; a team that will go the extra mile to provide fantastic customer service. I came across this simple but brilliant equation as part of my research:
Service Excellence = Design x Culture
The key takeaway for me is that great service is not born from attitude and effort, but design choices in the blueprint of a business model. A great business model should allow all members of the team to excel at customer service on a daily basis. It should also make sure the resources are available in the right areas of the business to really shine at customer service.
As a team, we had some fun testing a concept called brainwriting. It’s something I discovered in another brilliant book, Rebel Ideas by Matthew Syed. Brainwriting is designed to embrace cognitive diversity and help overcome the inevitable dominant voices in any group.
Working on their own, individual team members are asked to write down their ideas for topic being discussed; in our case, how to excel at customer service. The ideas are then collated and pinned on the wall anonymously. The team then vote on the best ideas, without knowing who came up with them, before breaking into smaller groups to discuss and enhance each concept. It was interesting to see several recurring themes emerge around client onboarding, client data sharing and ongoing customer service. The best ideas then give us an action point list for making improvements.
We’re excited about the future of the business and we acknowledge that small incremental change is the best way to improving. Here’s to a great year ahead!