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Gatekeepers: how to pitch to 15 leading lawyers

How to get your foot in the door with these leading gatekeepers

Darran Fawcett is a senior associate in the private client team and as trust manager is responsible for the administration, accounting and taxation of approximately 1,000 trusts. Darran is also treasurer of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners Sussex.

Thomas Eggar LLP is a law firm that seeks out creative legal solutions for private individuals and commercial organisations. Its award-winning private client team has a growing reputation for being the premier provider of legal services for high net worth clients including tax, legal and fiduciary services.

How best to pitch

Take time to prepare for the pitch, making an effort in advance to understand any particular client requirements. Invite the client to explain what they are looking for in their investment manager and carefully listen and adapt the pitch.

How not to pitch

Do not present a generic/standard pitch centred on the firm and its past performance – the pitch should be tailored towards the client. Although you want to prove to the client that you are an expert, it’s too easy to confuse them with jargon. 

Likes

An investment manager who is genuinely interested in the client and has the ability to listen, is clear and personable. They should take the time to fully explore and understand the client's attitude to risk and what they are trying to achieve through their investment.

Dislikes

When their is a lack of transparency in relation to fees. Similarly, when managers blind the client with science, providing an endless collection of graphs, statistics, percentages and jargon.

Final word

It is very important to be able to demonstrate what distinguishes you and your firm from the competition. Clients look for an investment approach that they can understand and a professional relationship that gives them the reassurance that their manager understands and shares their values and attitudes.

Please rank the following in order of importance

On a scale of one to five where five is the greatest

Relationship - 5

Past performance - 2

Reporting - 3

Size of firm – 1

Strength of process - 4


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Christopher Elias is a partner in the private client department of law firm  Michelmores, and heads its private client offering in London from its new offices in Chancery Lane.

Michelmores is a full service law firm of 47 partners with a total staff complement of 280. Its private client department is seeing remarkable growth from its South West offices and in London. This is principally in relation to high net worth individuals and families in the UK, and increasingly from foreign nationals and families from Europe, the US, and the Middle and Far East. These clients require tax-efficient and pragmatic advice from experienced lawyers who have a City firm background but work at more cost efficient levels.

How best to pitch

Have an early night and know your target. If you can strike a balance between knowledge of the prospect and what they want, together with a demonstration of your knowledge of the subject matter, that should do it. 

How not to pitch

You need them to know you are hungry for the business, but not starving. 

Likes

My clients. In private client work it is essential you establish a full understanding of the client’s needs and to do that I believe one has to establish a rapport with the client, which ordinarily would mean that you must like them. And my work colleagues would not forgive me if I omitted to say I quite like them, too. 

Dislikes

Incompetence is hard to take, and lack of time to give to clients the attention they deserve is horrible.

Final word

You can never stop learning. I try to be honest and I do try my best, but the next challenge is only as typical as the next client.

What do you look for in a wealth manager?

On a scale of one to five where five is the greatest

Relationship: 5

Past performance: 2

Reporting: 3

Size of firm: 1

Strength of process: 4

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Geoffrey Todd is a partner at Boodle Hatfield LLP, a leading private client law firm which has provided bespoke legal services for almost 300 years. With offices in London and Oxford, it provides legal advice to support its wealthy global client base’s planning needs. The firm advises a range of clients, including international business people, landowners, entrepreneurs, executors, beneficiaries and trustees, property developers, investors and family businesses. It advises on all issues affecting them, from long-term estate planning to resolving disputes within a family business, or advising on family breakdown.

How to pitch

The success of a pitch is usually determined at the planning stage. Besides understanding the client’s circumstances, investment needs and reporting requirements, the successful manager takes the trouble to understand the client’s aspirations, level of sophistication and character. 

How not to pitch

The manager who will deal with the portfolio must be present (and anyone who will cover for them). Do not be vague about the suitability of the investment proposal or how it will be delivered. 

Likes

I like clarity about what distinguishes the investment manager’s house from the rest, and about the strategy being proposed and how it suits the client. 

Dislikes

Excessive reliance on brand, past performance and standard spiel. If a house is proud of its ‘personal service’, I want to know how that is demonstrated in practice. I want to see an interest in having a dialogue with the client. Don’t attempt to ‘blind with science’.

Final word

It comes down to good communication, both on a personal level and in explaining the investment approach and ensuring it continues to meet the client’s requirements as they develop over the longer term.

What do you look for in a wealth manager?

On a scale of one to five where five is the greatest

Relationship - 5

Past performance - 2

Reporting - 4

Size of firm – 1

Strength of process - 3


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Rachel Chenery is a solicitor in the wills, trusts and probate team at Myers Lister Price Solicitors. Her work includes advising trustees on the running of family will trusts, advising attorneys and deputies on their roles and responsibilities, and establishing personal injury trusts. 

Myers Lister Price Solicitors is based in Altrincham, Cheshire and specialises in corporate and commercial legal advice to businesses and business owners across the North West.

How best to pitch

Demonstrate an understanding of what the trustees or attorneys are hoping to achieve and tailor the proposal accordingly. Include information on how and when performance will be reviewed and what safeguards are in place. 

How not to pitch

Don’t use jargon unless you tell the client what it means. Don’t use lots of figures and statistics without explaining them. Don’t gloss over how and what you will charge. 

Likes

The ability to give advice that clients will understand and to demonstrate how this fits with their objectives. Clients should feel confident that, by taking on board the advice given, they will be acting in the best interests of the beneficiaries. 

Dislikes

Advisers who use jargon, don’t answer questions clearly and aren’t interested in getting the practicalities right. It can be frustrating when the enthusiasm of the initial meeting is replaced by having to chase for information or paperwork.

Final word

Clear communication between advisers is important, so clients can have the peace of mind of knowing that matters are being looked after on their behalf and any issues can be dealt with smoothly. 

What do you value in a wealth manager?

On a scale of one to five where five is the greatest

Relationship – 5

Past performance – 3

Reporting – 3

Size of firm – 3

Strength of process – 5


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Hayden Bailey is an associate in the private client and tax team at Boodle Hatfield LLP.

Boodle Hatfield is a leading private client law firm that has provided bespoke legal services for almost 300 years. With offices in London and Oxford, it provides legal advice to support the planning needs of its wealthy global client base. The firm advises a range of clients, including international business people, landowners, entrepreneurs, executors, beneficiaries and trustees, property developers, investors and family businesses. It advises on all issues affecting private clients, from long-term estate planning to resolving disputes within a family business, or advising on family breakdown.

How to pitch

Part of the job of the gatekeeper is to correctly match the client’s values, aspirations, expectations and attitudes with those of the manager. If the manager takes time to understand the client, they are more likely to be successful.

How not to pitch

It makes a difference if the people who will actually be running the portfolio and making decisions are the people making the pitch.

Likes

Managers should have an understanding of the macro and micro-economic position. Concise and client-friendly reporting is important so that asset allocation and valuations can be easily determined.

Dislikes

I dislike being pushed into a particular investment approach without an understandable explanation. There is a careful balance between providing reassurance and advice when it is required and the over-provision of analysis and paperwork.

Final word

Clients are looking for a long-term relationship, and an investment approach that they can understand. They will identify with managers who share their values and attitudes. Understanding between client and adviser is critical in all areas of wealth management.

What do you look for in a wealth manager?

On a scale of one to five where five is the greatest

Relationship - 5

Past performance - 2

Reporting - 3

Size of firm – 1

Strength of process - 4


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Rhoddy McGrigor is an associate solicitor at Barlow Robbins. He qualified in 1996 and leads the probate, wills and trusts team in the firm’s Woking office.

Barlow Robbins LLP was formed in 2004 by the merger of the two long-established legal practices of Barlows and Robbins Olivey. It is now one of the larger law firms in the South East, with a thriving portfolio of private and commercial clients. Lawyers in the firm work together across all disciplines to provide an integrated approach to their clients’ affairs.

How best to pitch

Demonstrate you understand what clients are trying to achieve, and have tailored your proposals to those needs. Make the client feel that you are good to work with. Processes, controls and service are important too but tend to be secondary.

How not to pitch

Avoid using standardised presentations; focus on what you have established about that client’s individual needs and goals and emphasise how you will meet them.

Likes

Good communication skills show you have understood the clients’ goals at the outset.  Regular contact reinforces that those aims are still being met. Personalised literature is more likely to be read and to create trust. You should be able to work collaboratively with other key professionals.

Dislikes

A failure to continue communicating can lead to the relationship cooling off, and makes it harder to promote your strategy. Clients want you to satisfy them that they can have faith in your judgment.

Final word

Show you understand each client’s specific goals and how you can help to attain them. Continue to communicate well to reinforce the relationship. Demonstrating you can work in tandem with other professionals will reassure clients, and earn their trust – which really is the last word.

What do you value in a wealth manager?

On a scale of one to five where five is the greatest

Relationship - 5

Reporting - 4

Strength of Process - 3

Past Performance - 2

Size of Firm - 1


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Eleanor Metcalf is a partner and head of the private client group at Wedlake Bell. Her practice covers estate and tax planning for UK and non-UK domiciled individuals, trusts, landed estates and family businesses. She also advises charities and charity trustees on all aspects of charity law and trust law, including taxation, tax efficient charitable giving and trading.

Wedlake Bell is a London law firm that provides a full service to corporate and private clients nationally and internationally with the aim of building lasting relationships. The firm, which recently merged with Cumberland Ellis, has a combined 54 partners and is one of the top 100 law firms in the UK by turnover.

How best to pitch

It really helps if people follow the brief they are given, asking questions before the meeting if they need to do so. It is very important they understand the family concerned. They must also be completely clear about fee structures, not flannel, and give clear benchmarks that the client and I can understand.

How not to pitch

Don’t come to meetings poorly prepared and with performance measures that are pick-and-mixed to disguise failures.

Likes

An understanding of how complex family trusts can be, both at a personal and professional level. This includes being sensitive to issues such as generational family friction. Absolute transparency in communications is vital, as is giving investment advice in a comprehensible way.

Dislikes

Attempts to hide behind jargon are infuriating and suggest something is not understood. Advisers sometimes take their foot off the pedal when they win work; I want to see nothing taken for granted.

Final word:

Trust, clearness and reliability are vital. There also needs to be a clearly understood and stated set of goals against which performance can be measured. Costs must be utterly transparent. I always expect managers and advisers to communicate with me openly and take responsibility for the advice they give.

Please rank the following criteria in terms of importance

On a scale of one to five where five is the least important

Relationship: 5

Past Performance: 3

Reporting:  3

Size of firm: 3

Strength of process: 4


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Christopher Walker is a partner and head of the private client department based in the Lewes office. He advises UK resident and non-resident clients on wills, estate planning and trust creation, acts as a trustee for family trusts and advises on all aspects of the taxation and administration of trusts. He is a member of STEP and of the Charity Law Association.

Adams & Remers LLP is a full-service law firm based in the South East and London. It serves private individuals, corporate and institutional clients both nationally and internationally. The firm has 13 partners and a 98-strong team with an established reputation for work in property, private client, dispute resolution, corporate and commercial and employment law.

How best to pitch

Assess the professional and their clients accurately and be able to identify where you can add value. This means really knowing your subject and what is going on in the wider investment community, and going ‘off pitch’ to discuss client issues more broadly. 

How not to pitch

Arrogance/presuming you know everything. We want to maintain long-lasting relationships with our clients and the teams that advise them and don’t want anyone offering short-term solutions.

Likes

Investment managers who have something new to say, or a good unique selling point. Managers who can deliver and add value to my client’s life and business. Many of my clients highly value personal relationships, which are increasingly overlooked by many financial institutions.

Dislikes

People thinking short-term not long-term, and who don’t understand what it is they are offering and who it will benefit. Also, cold calling, and anyone who over-promises and doesn’t deliver.

No professional has all the answers, and clients are served best when we all work together to solve their problems – we are all in it together.

What do you value in a manager?

On a scale of one to five where five is the greatest

Relationship - 4

Past performance - 5

Reporting - 3

Size of firm – 1

Strength of process - 4


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Anne Lewis is a partner in the private client division of law firm Cripps Harries Hall and has a wide range of experience dealing with wills, probate, trusts, related tax planning and Court of Protection work. Anne has recently joined the STEP special interest group Mental Capacity Steering Committee and has developed CrippsAssist, a service that manages the financial and general affairs of the elderly and those who lack mental capacity.

Cripps Harries Hall has a national reputation for services to individuals and for commercial property work. Its head office is in Tunbridge Wells, Kent. It also has an office in London. Cripps has been ranked first for private client services in the south by Chambers, a guide to UK solicitors, for many years.

How best to pitch

Spend time finding out and thinking about what is required and be prepared to justify advice given with clear explanations. Clients like to meet the person who will actually deal with the work as well as the relationship manager.

How not to pitch

Avoid lengthy presentations of standard information and stock phrases which do not differentiate between competitors rather than addressing the specific requirements of the client. Think carefully about what a PowerPoint presentation is intended to achieve.

Likes

An investment adviser with a strong technical background, including awareness of tax issues combined with an ability to communicate with clients in a way that they can understand, and who maintains regular communication with the legal adviser.

Dislikes

Investment advisers who put their interests before those of the client, who use template reports without adapting them to the requirements of the client, and who assume that everyone else has unlimited time to listen to a standard presentation. 

Final word

A good relationship between professional advisers can provide a substantial benefit both to the client and to the advisers themselves.

What do you value most in a manager?

On a scale of one to five where five is the greatest

Relationship - 5

Past performance - 2

Reporting - 3

Size of firm - 1

Strength of process - 4


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As director of portfolio management, Manliffe Goodbody and his investment management team manage the assets of around 360 private clients and trusts on either a discretionary or advisory basis.

Thorntons Investment Services is a division of the law firm Thorntons, which provides legal services to individuals and businesses across Scotland from its offices in Tayside and Edinburgh. With 29 partners and more than 270 members of staff, it provides a full range of legal, estate agency and financial services.

Likes

In our experience, a well spread approach to mainstream investment, in response to a client’s investment objectives, affords the client a good result. A good mix of direct equities, funds, fixed interest and in some cases deposits, meets most clients’ investment objectives and can be structured to fit the client’s risk profile.

Dislikes

I dislike products with high in-built fees. I also dislike investments accounting for more than 5% of the value of a portfolio (funds excluded) and investments which have restricted liquidity.

How to pitch 

Listen and explain what you do as simply and as clearly as possible, and see things from the client’s angle. Show that you can provide a sensible, measured solution for the client’s needs and take care of all the paperwork and administration.

How not to pitch

Avoid information overload, financial jargon and talking too much about how good an organisation you represent, and its structure and success. The client is only interested in how you can help them.

Final word

Nobody has all the answers but we believe we have some. With so much uncertainty and the shift of economic power from developed to newer and emerging economies, we aim for a spread across income-producing and growth-orientated assets with good diversification within those asset classes.

What do you value most in a manager?

On a scale of one to five where five is the greatest

Relationship - 1

Past performance - 4

Reporting - 3

Size of firm – 5

Strength of process - 2


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Alec Stewart is the CEO of Anderson Strathern Asset Management. He is also a dual qualified solicitor (Scotland and England/Wales) and a partner in Anderson Strathern Solicitors.

Anderson Strathern Asset Management is a boutique financial services company offering specialist advice to a range of private clients, family businesses, trusts and charities. The company manages all types of investment on a discretionary and advisory basis. It also provides a spread of financial planning services, including tax-based investments, pensions and retirement planning, along with life and protection advice.

How best to pitch

Every pitch should be specific. To create a bespoke pitch, one must first obtain a thorough understanding of the recipient’s circumstances, expectations and objectives. It will make the pitch informative for the recipient. It will ensure the views given are accurate and the client will know what to expect in the delivery of service.

How not to pitch

‘Standardised’ pitches and marketing documents are popular because they are cheap, quick and easy to prepare. However, they commonly miss the point. By their very nature they are often vague and not always relevant to the recipient. If you are serious about getting the business and delivering a good service, show some respect and professionalism by investing the time in a pitch tailored to each specific client.

Likes

Transparency when dealing with third-party managers and packaged products. It should highlight the potential risks and how returns will be delivered. It can also relate to costs. Clear, concise and accurate data is crucial. Clear communication is important to establish accountability and a relationship where one can understand the investment processes and services that are being offered.

Dislikes

A lack of accountability and transparency. In many instances, I think managers forget they are dealing with other people’s money. All too often, it seems, advisers take for granted the trust placed in them. Anybody managing another’s money should understand their responsibility. 

Final word

Relationships should be built on clear communication, an appreciation of a client’s circumstances and objectives, along with an understanding as to what is expected and how the service will be delivered. Advisers and managers must be open about costs and the type of service they offer. However, they should also remain accountable for the ultimate results.

What do you value most in a manager?

On a scale of one to five where five is the greatest

Relationship - 5

Past performance - 4

Reporting - 3

Size of firm – 1

Strength of process - 2


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Glen Gilson is a partner, managing board member and head of private client & financial services at HBJ Gateley. As such, he established and developed one of the leading private client practices in the country.

HBJ Gateley is a top 50 national full service law firm with offices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham, Leeds, Leicester, Manchester, Nottingham, London and Dubai. It is also one of the largest private client businesses in Scotland. The private client divisions offer advice on tax, trust and succession planning, charity law, family law, wealth management, agriculture and estates, residential property and estate agency.

How best to pitch

It is important a manager contextualises his offering, and then explains the performance of the house in a clear and benchmarked manner for the past few years. The background of the key personnel should be explained, and only then a more detailed conversation about strategy should take place.

How not to pitch

The hard sell is unattractive and criticising the competition can only ever be endearing if you have comprehensively explained one’s own proposition first and can compare performance very favourably. Also, and as touched upon above, the pitch has to be understandable for the lay person.  The investment industry in my experience (and as a lawyer I know our industry make the same mistake also!) assumes too much knowledge of the audience.

Likes

I am always comforted by a manager who appreciates the appropriate level at which to pitch a report. Professional trustees are naturally familiar with the language of financial services and investment, but often lay members of the trustee group are not. Simple, precise language, rather than abstract economic theories concerning the emerging markets, is always best.

Dislikes

Our private client partners, and indeed our clients, share a dislike of unreadable, badly explained reports that confuse and alienate the lay trustee or client.

Final word

At the end of the day, it is all about people and relationships. Even with a big brand – and also taking proper account of the charity and trustee investment legislation – the trustee will always give considerable weight to personality and the ability of the manager to communicate.

What do you value most in a manager?

On a scale of one to five where five is the greatest

Relationship - 5

Past performance - 4

Reporting - 3

Size of firm –1

Strength of process - 2


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Caroline Wallis is a partner and head of the wealth protection team at Boyes Turner. She specialises in estate planning, wills and trusts and estate administration and is also a professional deputy in substantial deputyship cases and professional trustee of a number of specialist compensation trusts.

Boyes Turner LLP is one of the UK’s leading full service law firms and is based in Reading. The firm regularly works with many of the world’s largest multinationals as well as successful UK and European businesses. The firm’s specialist teams are regularly ranked among the best in the UK.

How best to pitch

A clear, well communicated, well planned investment recommendation brief, which fully assesses the client’s objectives and demonstrates the adviser’s specialist investment knowledge and advice to achieve them.  Transparency of charges is also essential. 

How not to pitch

Anything that does not fulfill the requirements mentioned previously.

Likes

The investment adviser must be able to provide simple clear and well thought through advice that meets the client’s needs. It is essential the client understands the product or service that they are buying.

Dislikes

Lack of clarity, inability to communicate investment objectives clearly and lack of empathy for the client.

Final word

A clear understanding of the client’s objectives, a professional approach and an openness and ability to fully understand the client’s requirements to build a long-standing professional relationship in which there is trust on both sides.

What do you value most in a manager?

On a scale of one to five where five is the greatest

Relationship - 5

Past performance - 2

Reporting - 3

Size of firm –1

Strength of process - 4


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Nick Rucker is a founder of boutique, independent private wealth law firm Berkeley Law and an ex-investment banker. He specialises in international asset structuring.

Berkeley Law is an independent, owner-managed business providing bespoke wealth advisory services to international private clients and the institutions that serve them. Its main areas of expertise are wealth and tax structuring, asset protection, succession and estate planning, immigration, philanthropy and relocation. As well as working directly with private clients, the firm can advise other professionals who need additional or occasional support for their own clients. 

Likes

Managers who: appreciate the level of sophistication of their clients; understand that (especially for international clients) the co-operation of the whole advisory team is almost always far more important than the portfolio management; put the client’s desired outcomes before their own; realise the value of building long-term relationships is far greater than seeking short-term gain; listen.

Dislikes

Spurious benchmarks and hurdles – anything that can be chosen by managers to ‘prove’ outperformance. Managers who never ask what the client’s ideal outcome is but feel they have done their job by improving on a competitor’s return. Managers who have forgotten they work in a service industry. Managers who forget that their clients are/were very good at making money. 

How best to pitch

Show that you profoundly understand what the client wants to achieve and how you can achieve that. Forecast returns in preference to re-hashing historical data and make sure you fully explain your management of risk and liquidity in ways your client will understand. Avoid jargon and plan for a long-term relationship. 

How not to pitch

Never come with a generic presentation. Never assume your client understands even the simplest financial concepts but never think they are unsophisticated if they don’t. Don’t ignore the other advisers; they may be more important in the client relationship than you!

Final word

The financial services industry has a real chance to change the way it works with and for clients in the coming years. Businesses like Berkeley Law intend to be at the forefront of those changes and hope other wealth advisers will do likewise.

What do you value most in a manager?

On a scale of one to five where five is the greatest

Relationship - 5

Past performance - 2

Reporting - 3

Size of firm – 1

Strength of process - 4


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Geoffrey Shindler is a consultant in the private client team at DWF llp. He is currently president of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP).

DWF is a national law firm with a distinctive approach, providing a comprehensive range of legal services to corporate bodies, public sector institutions and private individuals. Its legal teams are arranged under seven core practice groups, providing a broad range of expertise to meet the varied needs of their clients. These practice groups are: commercial & corporate law, banking & finance, litigation, real estate, insurance, employment & pensions and private client.

How best to pitch

Be precise and upfront. Tell me the circumstances in which my investment will do well and tell me the financial situations in which the investment will not do well. Tell me the cost structure fully and clearly – do not be afraid to tell me the full story or the bigger picture.

How not to pitch

Do not talk in generalities or clichés. Be specific and relevant. Clients don’t need to know about the details of the Asian economies or the Russian mining industries. Focus on what clients understand – being too clever by half is not the way to engender confidence. 

Likes

Openness and transparency are key to any relationship. It is especially important to admit errors – no one is perfect and clients expect you to be human. Clients must be given best advice, even if it’s not what they want to hear. Don’t be afraid of the client. They will respect you for being objective and clear in your advice, even when it comes to collecting debts.

Dislikes

Giving advice that is the truth, but not the whole truth. An example would be an investment adviser who tells a prospective client that the investment being recommended has risen in value by 10% in the past six months, but omits to say this includes retained dividends or other returns. It is misleading to boost the merits of the investment by omitting the income yield, which needs to be paid out as it earns.

Final word

Be prepared to listen as much as talk. If you can hear what the client is saying and communicate with them, you can build up a picture of the client’s views on the world. Deal with the client as you would expect to be dealt with if the roles were reversed.

What do you value most in a manager?

On a scale of one to five where five is the greatest

Relationship - 1

Past performance - 3

Reporting - 2

Size of firm – 5

Strength of process – 4


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