Clarion Wealth Planning’s Business Development Director, John Winstanley, explains why the company has experienced a surge in their client base over the last 12 months.
As a result of the global Covid pandemic, the past year has caused massive turbulence within all commercial sectors, but whilst many markets have reported decline and shrinkage, nearly half (48%) of all financial advisers reported an increase in client numbers in the last 12 months, according to a recent survey by FinTech firm Intelliflo.
“We’ve seen a 50 percent uplift in new client enquiries over the past 12 months,” confirms Clarion Wealth Planning’s Business Development Director, John Winstanley. “Many new clients have come to us for reassurance about their investments, whilst also seeking sound planning that creates financial stability in these turbulent times.”
John emphasises Clarion’s role in keeping clients well informed at all times: “Not all financial advisers in our industry have been sufficiently proactive during the pandemic,” he says, “but Clarion has regularly updated all existing clients on the state of their investments and the measures we’ve taken to protect their finances.
“Word has clearly spread about our high standards of customer service, so we have seen our new client numbers increase dramatically. Consequently, we now have an opening for a new Chartered Financial Planner, to support our continued growth.”
The Covid crisis has also resulted in more people making definite retirement decisions, according to a new poll by Opinium in Financial Planning Today. The number of people wanting to retire early (between 50 and state pension age) has more than doubled during the pandemic from 4% to 10%.
A client who recently moved to Clarion wanted to retire as soon as possible, though was worried that the global pandemic might threaten their plans. Observes John: “The client’s previous financial adviser had not been sufficiently proactive in discussing available options – but we quickly presented the client with a realistic retirement plan, which will be taking effect this summer.”
As well as Clarion’s high customer service standards bringing in new clients, John Winstanley ascribes the last year’s increase in Clarion client numbers to the fact that people have had more time to take stock of their finances: “Over the past twelve months, we’ve been advising existing and potential clients on a whole range of financial matters, from inter-generational wealth planning and retirement to reassessing life goals and selling businesses. At the same time, a number of clients have decided to upgrade homes or gardens and we’ve shown that these expenses can be affordable without impacting future financial security.”
On a highly positive note, 70% of advisers polled in the Intelliflo study believe their clients’ personal finances have improved during the pandemic, compared to just 4% of advisers who believe they’ve worsened.
John is not surprised at these figures: “A number of our clients take an income from their wealth on a monthly basis, but we advised them to protect their funds by drawing down less during the pandemic, especially since there would be fewer opportunities to spend on goods, travel and other expenses.”
With many clients’ money left invested to recover as the markets began to bounce back in April 2020, portfolios quickly rose to where they started – or, in many cases, increased in value. “With interest rate falls, we encouraged more cautious clients to add to their investments over the past 12 months, which has significantly improved their positions.”
John says: “We must never forget the loss of life, loss of livelihood and the enormous financial cost of the pandemic but because of our proactive approach, the effect for us at Clarion has been very positive in that we have been able to develop new client relationships and strengthen existing client partnerships. This is because of our robust understanding of the structure of each individual client’s finances, as well as our in-depth appreciation of their goals and objectives. We have also been able to stress-test clients’ financial plans, taking difficult periods, such as a large stock market falls, into consideration.”
Summing up, John says: “While the last 12 months has been a difficult, sometimes tragic, time for everyone, as far as our clients are concerned, our approach has remained long-term. Stock markets will always be prone to up and down phases but it is vital that we at Clarion help clients to ride out market volatility, safe in the knowledge that their financial futures will always remain secure.”
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