There’s a lot to be said for being different, argues David Hesketh, group M&A manager at Perspective Financial Group Ltd
However much you may want to keep away from it, the two major Autumn televisual ‘treats’ are now in full flow and you would need to be a hermit in order to miss them completely. The X-Factor and Strictly Come Dancing prop up the TV schedules on a Saturday and Sunday night and these are manna from heaven for the newspapers and those who enjoy this type of ‘entertainment’.
Looking at the contestants in both, the Strictly ‘celebrities’ and the X-factor ‘wannabees’ you may be forgiven for thinking these individuals exist on another planet. We often hear about the ‘uniqueness’ of some reality TV contestants, and while this can often seem like they are borderline psychotic to us ‘normals’, the fact is that standing out from the crowd in such a way is often their ticket to wider exposure.
There is a lot talked about ‘talent’ and ‘working hard’ but at the end of the day if you crawl on a piano like a cat, jump into a swimming pool, or essentially behave like a diva, insulting all your fellow contestants and causing mayhem, you’re chances of survival on these formats appear that much greater. The fact is that we tend to gravitate to those who are somewhat odd or unique many of us admire (however much we would not like to admit it) those individuals who are completely opposite to us and appear not to care that they are acting in a manner that is completely alien to 99.9% of the population.
Of course there is nothing new with courting controversy or being outrageous in order to generate success and/or column inches. Where I think there is a business message is in the way we continue to act as firms and the results we continue to generate. We all have tried and tested ways of working they might be described as our ‘fall-back’ methods which we hold onto because we know they can deliver perhaps, a certain level of business each month and therefore the stability of the business is built on them.
However, what about those methods which have never been explored? It may be something as simple as adopting Wraps and Platforms or it could be redefining the firm’s investment philosophy or utilising employees in a completely different way? It could even be a wholesale reappraisal of the way the firm advertises and markets itself.
Essentially, while I agree that keeping a solid foundation is absolutely necessary, many firms will have leeway to go out on a limb every so often and try something different. Off-the-wall approaches may fall flat on occasion, however they can also bring with them an entirely new client base or levels of business which far exceed those that have gone before.
We talk to many firms about their approach to business, and have acquired a significant number of, considerably diverse, IFA practices. Invariably, what the practice owners and management like about our approach is that they maintain local management and the scope to provide advice in their own unique way as they wish, whilst being part of a national group which assists them with the fundamental managing of matters such as regulation and profitability. Ours is not a strict culture where they must adhere to prescribed advisory styles, instead we recognise the successes they have had in the past, and we are there to help support them as they continue to manage their businesses.
We believe no firm should be pigeon-holed into something they are not and therefore those who perhaps adopt some unusual tactics perhaps in business generation or client interaction, are free to do so. Indeed, where these tactics are successful we actively encourage the sharing of this ‘best-practice’ with other offices in the Group we acknowledge that some will not be appropriate but there is always the freedom to pursue them if they wish.
Being unique in this marketplace is a definite positive, and standing out from the crowd has always been important. This has not changed and, as long as you have the strong foundations in place, all firms should be able to act creatively and develop potential opportunities, regardless of how unlikely they may appear to others. Being different could make all the difference.