Let’s be honest, the times they are slightly depressing!
Markets have been challenging, politicians have been wobbling, purse strings have been tightening and the world seems to be a very frustrated and unhappy place.
Against all of this backdrop, Thomas and Thomas are still busting a gut to try and deliver the ‘perfect’ financial planning service and experience. But is that realistic and what do our clients really think?
Once again, we sent out our annual questionnaire to all of our clients. This year was extremely busy for us (and probably our clients too!) therefore, we didn’t chase for responses as we have done previously. This really showed, with our lowest ever response rate at just 47% of our clients responding.
Nonetheless, this gave us a strong ‘sample’ to try and gauge where things could be improved or where we are hitting exactly the right notes.
We asked eight ‘quick fire’ questions which allowed for comments boxes after each one. Here were the questions and a summarised collective view of our clients:
How have you found our service this year?
100% of our clients stated that they had found our service either ‘excellent’ or ‘good’. Indeed, 94% of our clients selected ‘excellent’. Whilst this is a wonderful outcome – we were somewhat disappointed as we had hoped for a 100% ‘excellent’ score.
Does your annual review satisfy everything that you feel you need to know about your finances?
98% of our clients felt that their annual review was ‘Perfect’ or ‘Good’ with only one client ticking ‘acceptable’. There were no negative responses ticked or unhappy comments. Once again, we would be forgiven for thinking that this was a ‘green light’ to keep our annual review process and experience the same and to pat ourselves on the back for a job well done.
We were actually gutted by this result. I never set up Thomas and Thomas to be ‘acceptable’ or to offer anything other than ‘Perfect’. We spent considerable time studying the comments that some of our clients had so kindly shared for more clues.
Whilst we have invested even more time and effort in providing more detail in this years’ annual reviews, we may have actually served to ‘switch off’ some clients when trying to explain complex bond markets via several different charts. Going forward, we will be asking our clients what ‘type’ of presentation they would like at their review. Some will relish the in depth charts and explanations, whilst other may prefer a much ‘lighter’ approach. Our aim is to receive as close to 100% ‘perfect’ score as we can next year.
How confident would you feel to invest money into the markets right now?
This was a very interesting question! We ask our clients the same thing every year. Last year, we found more ‘nervous’ investors than we have ever encountered. This year, our clients have started to turn back towards ‘confident’ with a notable uplift in clients now feeling it may well be time to invest. This was so encouraging, our clients are very wise and we do respect their judgement.
How do you find the quality of information that you received from the Quilter platform?
We were pleased to see that 100% of our clients found the platform to be positive, with 40% ticking ‘excellent’ and 60% ticking ‘good’.
How good are we at getting back to you?
This was the question that kept me awake last year as two clients had ticked ‘good’ and not ‘excellent’. We pride ourselves on being brilliant at getting back to our clients when they phone or email us and so we hoped for a strong result this year. We weren’t disappointed, with 100% of our clients saying that they found us ‘Excellent’ at getting back to them. No one said ‘good’ or ‘poor’.
How are you currently coping with the rising cost of living?
This was a new question. We wanted to know if our clients were struggling financially. None of our clients ticked this option. However, 65% stated that they are experiencing ‘some financial tightening’. This was very telling, and helps to inform our financial planning.
Would you like to attend our annual masterclass event?
We noticed a very low amount of clients wanting to attend the event this year. This led us to approach it from a different perspective, concentrating on positive impact stories within the portfolios. We shall see how this year turns out!
How do you feel about investing in non-democratic Countries?
Once again, more of our clients are uncomfortable investing in these regimes. However, there were still some clients who were happy to do so, or who would consider some exposure to more ‘benign’ regimes. Certainly the comments were very lively around this question and we will take note!
In summary, we were so incredibly grateful to our clients for taking the time to complete this very important questionnaire. It really informs how we do things and shapes how we approach our service. We were disappointed not to get full ‘excellent’ or ‘perfect’ scores on everything – but we got fairly close! In our search for delivering perfection, no idea or option will be left unconsidered.
We run Thomas and Thomas for the most important people – you! If there is anything at all that you are worried about, concerned by or want to change – please tell us. I started this little firm 17 years ago, with the goal of delivering the best financial planning experience anyone could get in the UK. Ultimately, we work for you and we are so proud to do so.
My thanks and humble regards as ever.