Jonnie Whittle reflects on sharp suits and the process of taking expert advice.

Business owners are famously self-reliant people. Building a successful business means trusting your own instincts, taking calculated risks, and processing a great deal of information about the world in order to make sure the decisions made are the right ones.

Historically and culturally, it is expected that the services of a solicitor and an accountant will be needed in certain aspects of running a business, a cost that must be built into planning. But when it comes to other forms of expertise, business owners will often put off seeking advice, questioning whether the cost involved is genuinely going to be a good investment.

This can be true whether the expertise needed is a project manager to supervise a build, a travel expert to arrange holidays or a true lifelong financial planner to advise on all aspects of wealth management. There can often be a sense that not only the cost, but also the time in trying to introduce another person to the complex needs involved could be prohibitive.

As Managing Director at Clarion, part of my new role is to encourage successful business owners to benefit from the unique focus on the interaction between personal and professional affairs that makes our true life-long financial planning so effective. A question that interests me is “how can we overcome instinctive barriers to investing in additional expertise”?

Recently, I realised that an experience I had in 2017 provides a relevant analogy.

I hate shopping. Before last Summer I would happily have sworn that there was no way I would consider paying for the services of a personal shopper.  When pushed to buy new clothes I would be more likely to resist for weeks or months, and then, shortly before an important event, order them from the internet. The most frequent outcome of my shopping experience would be a choice between keeping or returning ill-fitting items, in colours that didn’t quite match my memory of what I had ordered.

So, what changed?

In June, with some key events coming up over the summer, my wife saw me starting to procrastinate. She predicted what would happen if I carried on down that path – having seen it several times before – and managed to convince me to make a personal shopping appointment. I was still sceptical, but I’d seen articles over the last year or two about Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs wearing certain clothes, as a way of reducing the number of choices they need to make each day, and I could totally relate to that.

My scepticism was very rapidly put to rest. The shopper listened to what I had to say about things I liked and about things I needed clothes for and understood me straight away. Most of the items he brought for me to try were exactly right, and he had no problem with me turning down the few that weren’t. I did spend more than I had planned to on that visit, but it was totally worth it. It saved me time, both on the day and when choosing clothes from my wardrobe since then and it removed frustration from the shopping process. It is a service I will definitely pay for again.

I recognise some of the feelings of relief and of transformation I had on that day in the way our clients talk about their relationship with Clarion.

I trust them implicitly and their experience and willingness to help, consistently saves me a lot of the time and hassle associated with today’s complicated financial world.”

And whilst the experience of good personal shopping is not as genuinely life changing as true life-long financial planning, my experience did give me two things to think about.

Firstly, it is often a trusted family member or friend who will help a business owner overcome their initial resistance to investing in expertise.

Secondly, it is important for business owners to hear from other successful leaders about how financial planning expertise has helped them gain a better lifestyle alongside a successful business. This will help make it an absolute expectation that true life-long financial planning is expertise that every successful business owner should seek at some point in their journey.

At Clarion, we’re looking forward to sharing some stories of the relationships we have built with our clients, and the transformations achieved through taking decisions together.

If you’d like more information about this article, or any other aspect of our true lifelong financial planning, we’d be happy to hear from you. Please call +44 (0)1625 466 360 or email

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