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Adviser Workshop: How to create a client advisory board

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Adviser Workshop: How to create a client advisory board

Clinton Askew (pictured) and Christopher Hindle discuss how they have gone about create client advisory boards.

Clinton Askew

Managing director, Citywide Financial Partners

We have been running a client advisory board for around three and a half years. I always had an ambition to reflect client interests in the running of the business. Ours is unique in that it serves as a non-executive board and is very much part of our corporate structure.

Use clients’ skills

A few years ago, we identified a number of people who could add significant value, due to their personal ethos and career history. They were also individuals who were going to challenge us, and would not just agree with everything.

The board has its own chair with experience chairing large organisations, and it pretty much runs itself. There are usually eight people in the meetings, which happen two or three times a year. Sometimes we bring one or two new members of staff along, so everybody gets to face the music at some point.

Get down to the grit

In our first meeting, the board proposed a full deep dive into the business and essentially took it apart. That kind of scrutiny is really helpful. Members get thoroughly involved in the numbers, benchmarks and other particulars.

We have no plans to add personnel, as the current members all recently agreed to stay on. Interestingly, we still get people telling us they are keen to be part of it.

Christopher Hindle

Practice manager and paraplanner, Jones Hill IFA

We had a potential client come to us who worked in video production and editing. He decided the time was not right to become a client. Still, we asked if he wanted to do some pro bono video work for us, in return for some pro bono services on our end.

Share expertise

After he had filmed some client testimonials, we realised we had a lot of clients with useful skills who could help us improve the business. In turn we realised we could better service them. That was around the end of last year. In those early stages, [finance guru] Michael Kitces’ writings about setting up a client advisory board were really helpful.

Mix and match

We have around 12 people at each quarterly meeting. Five or six are regular attendees and provide the anchor and balance for the board. The rest are rotated, depending on their particular expertise, to match the agenda of that particular meeting. For instance, one quarter’s agenda focused on marketing strategies, so we primarily invited clients with backgrounds in advertising, marketing and communications.

The board has been integral since it was implemented. It has influenced our pricing. It has also helped with personnel decisions such as promotions for people who have excelled, and identifying staffing needs.

What Twitter thinks

David Hearne, director, Satis Asset Management

Are there any financial planning businesses that operate a client ‘user’ group?

Alistair Cunningham, director, Wingate Financial Planning

Among a population of several thousand, I’m sure at least one does.

Matthew Walne, managing director, Santorini Financial Planning

We are currently in the process of introducing a client advisory board.

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