It is always interesting to hear where advisers get their inspiration from and how they translate this for their business. Having looked at this a lot recently, I think it goes some way to show the nuances between new model firms.
This week I learnt that Colin Lawson, senior managing partner at Cheshire-based Equilibrium Asset Management, took inspiration from TED talks. The online TED venture, standing for Technology, Education and Design, provides speakers with a slot of no more than 18 minutes to get their ideas across. Speakers have included the great and the good from the worlds of academia, politics and the arts.
Lawson recently went to TED’s UK conference in Salford to feed his grey matter. He said he would be able to apply the lessons he learnt to Equilibrium’s growth strategy, whether those ideas came from Higgs Boson researchers at Cern or WWE wrestler Ken Shamrock, dubbed ‘the most dangerous man in the world’.
Lawson has ambitious expansion plans for Equilibrium, which grew assets by £40 million to £225 million in the year to the end of August, and plans to do the same over the next 12 months. The firm is into the second year of its 10-year plan, at the end of which it hopes to have £2 billion under advice.
Equilibrium has already bagged £15 million in the first quarter of the second year, which kicked off in September.
Lawson said this was due to a shift in investors’ attitudes as confidence grew following the UK’s exit from recession.
‘Over the past two months we’ve seen an explosion in attendance numbers at our seminars and a higher conversion rate from guests to clients,’ he said.
Lawson has one of the most strategic approaches to gaining new clients I have seen in an advisory firm: Equilibrium moves out into new areas, split by postcodes, and starts to build a presence.
It starts with seminars and goes on to open regional offices. However, Lawson hopes that once he has clients on board, they will travel to the firm’s head office in Wilmslow.
‘I’m also conscious of not diluting the ethos,’ says Lawson. ‘As you physically move further from people, I wonder if the company values that I and [investment director] Mike Deverell have tried to instil will carry through.’
I can certainly attest to an ethos of hard work at Equilibrium: I arrived at its offices before 9am and it was already teeming with industrious-looking employees.