The measure of success...

I’ll start my last blog of 2018 by wishing any readers of my posts a very happy and healthy new year. I hope it’s a successful one for everyone.

The Christmas period is often a good time for a reflection of the year gone by, as well as a time to look forward to the coming year. At Engage we asked ourselves what have we done well? Where can we improve and what are our targets for the year ahead? I won’t go into the answers of those questions as I’m not sure they’re that relevant for this post. What I will say is that 2018 was a good year objectively speaking. It was the first full year of Engage (our accounts are Jan 1st to 31st Dec). We ended the year with around 15% more turnover than forecast and our targets for new clients and referrals were both up on where we wanted to be.

Our starting position in terms of recurring revenue is good, the business is on a solid footing for growth and I’m proud of the start we’ve made and how we’re seen by both clients and the profession as a whole.

Upon reflection though, I got to thinking about how I deem myself and the financial planning business I own a success. The size of a company’s turnover/profit is quite rightly seen as one measure, industry awards are recognition for a leading business as well but mainly in our profession it seems to be the assets under management number.

In magazines or articles, you’ll always read about XYZ company that manages X million, or how ABC company has bought DEF company which manages £X million. It’s kind of ingrained into the fabric of everything financial services. I think the above is part of the reason that financial services isn’t the most trusted of professions. It’s always about the money. I feel there is something crass about the almost boasting of some firms about how many assets they look after. My view is that normal people will find it hard to ascertain anything above the sheer size of the numbers. Also I don’t think millennials and the next generation of socially responsible people care too much about those things. It’s old school.

When I started in the profession, the firm I worked for managed approx £3bln. To me as someone from outside the profession, I saw that number as huge and I remember finding it hard to comprehend in those days. However, when you view that in relation to the trillions of a Vanguard or Blackrock it’s pretty insignificant and my point here is that most people won’t gleam anything from those numbers.

It then got me thinking about what I’d like people to know about when they ask how we’re doing. I’ve said it previously but we work with a much younger clientele than most in FS and therefore I think we have a relatively good perspective of what the younger generation of people deem success or something to be proud of.  

So I came up with some of my own metrics. I want to use the number of families we help as a measure of success. I think that will resonate. I also want to use the number of kids we’ve provided financial education to through our partnership with The Money Charity. Or the number of children we’ve helped have counselling for bereavement by working with Grief Encounter. These are the things that are important to me, this where we can really make a difference and are something to be proud of. We manage £30m of assets….so what, who cares?

The world is becoming far more socially conscious and I want this to be reflected in how we operate our business. It can’t just be surface led though, it needs to flow throughout everything we do otherwise it will be seen through pretty quickly.

Now I understand that sometimes I can be a little idealistic and I call myself an optimistic realist. But through Engage I have the chance to create the business I want to have. If I think about my life, what will I want to look back on years to come? It’s apparent that it’s not about the money, it’s about more than that. I want to contribute to society, I want people to be proud of me, proud of Engage. I want to be seen by my children as someone who always gave back, who had old school values with modern vision and someone who understood what success truly meant.

So to finish, I don’t want to tell anyone how to measure their success in their business, be that FS or otherwise. I just want to outline what it means to me. Let’s see how this year shapes up. I’ll report back with my progress.  Have a fantastic one.