Your clients need more from you

by Kevin Reed

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29 Sep 2011

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HOW FAR would you go to help your clients?

Would you hold their hand - or go all the way?

One advisor prepared to get up close and personal is Bobby Lane of Shelley Stock Hutter.

His idea of what constitutes client service is one that goes beyond what most practices would offer - even those that consider themselves as fully attentive.

For him, advisors should do everything they physically can to enable their clients to focus on the job in hand.

As an example, Lane tells of four hairdressers looking to set up a salon. Lane and his team not only managed the tax and accounting compliance issues that arise with setting up a new business, but arranged the property lease and shopfitting.

The haircutting was left to the hairdressers.

Lane's thinking comes from his unusual background. Trained at a big firm, then into commerce in a number of finance roles, before heading back into practice.

His commercial experience has left with a strong contact base and clear idea of the help that SMEs need.

Lane feels that more practices should attempt to entice accountants back out of commerce and use them to provide a deeper range of services to clients.

Anything that advisors can do to leave clients to get on with the day job is good.

But for more practices to go down this 'complete business service' route is easier said than done, I fear.

For starters you've got a whole range of stakeholders who need to buy into the plan. The senior partner, of course. Other partners would need to let their clients loose with the newly-formed 'business service division'.

You'd then need to find the right people to do the job. Recruiters would need to be really well briefed, and even then they might struggle to get the message across to those on their books to 'come back into the fold'.

Any change is difficult to push through, particularly in firms. But I can't help feeling that Bobby Lane has the right idea on this.

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