Simpson Kelly: Investing in people and technology

During the last 12-months, Directors Darren Kelly, Gary Simpson and Craig Watson of Simpson Kelly have been on a journey and undergone real transformation, spurred on by their investment in people and technology.

Darren, shared with us his experience and insights, saying, “In recent times, we’ve seen the business go from strength-to-strength and the plan is to keep growing it. While it’s exciting seeing the business prosper, focusing on long-term planning forces you to consider succession planning. 

At some point in our firm, our current advisers will retire. We know the average age of advisers is currently 57, and that the average age of clients is dropping. 

We knew we needed to bring in more qualified resource to continue meeting the demand for our services, but also for continuity for our existing clients when our advisers retired.” 

Coming at this from another angle, we also started looking at how we adopt technology to gain greater in-house efficiencies from our current resource pool. 

With all of this in mind, we agreed on two strategies to deliver. The first was to integrate Intelliflo into the business and, the second was to hire a financial adviser apprentice.”

Implementing Intelligent Office 

Simpson Kelly committed to fully integrating Intelligent Office into the firm, to meet the changing needs of their customers. To achieve this, Craig admits, it really was a team effort and that without their support and commitment to wholly embrace the new system, it may not have been as successful. 

Aside from taking the time to ensure the team was informed on the reasons for the decision, and providing adequate training and support on the system, Simpson Kelly also committed to on-boarding their clients onto the new system, so they could get the most benefit out of the features available.

Thanks to Intelligent Office, Simpson Kelly now provide each client with a unique personal finance portal, something which most clients are used to interacting with now-a-days, whether it’s through a bank account or for an insurance product.  

Giving the team and clients access to this invaluable tool enables them to not only view up to date financial information, but al¬so to interact via a secure, online 'hub' anywhere and, more importantly, on any device.

For most modern clients, this serves to meet their needs in terms of instant access to their information, especially when on the go, as more and more clients are turning to their mobile phones as their primary browsing device. 

Early this year, the team at Simpson Kelly were recognised for their achievement in adopting this technology at the ‘Change the Game Conference’ 2019 in Manchester. There were assessed against other firms and crowned the winner of the Digital Client Engagement Award.

Following the win, Gary was delighted that his team had been recognised for their hard work, saying, “We’re utilising Technology to efficiently interact with clients. As a result, they feel more involved and are really responding well to getting all their values in one convenient place.

In addition, this move to embrace the technology has seen us add real value to our proposition, as well as meeting regulatory requirements more clearly with, for example, withdrawal requests.

I feel based on the client take up on PFP and the input from each and every IFA we have deservedly been recognised for the hard work of every one of our team and the significant value our clients place on our relationship with them.”

Hiring an apprentice

A lot of things aligned for us when it came to recruit someone new into the firm. Initially, we were dealing with recruiters to assist in our search. However, we soon realised that although we wanted someone qualified, this brought about certain questions, such as:

  • Will this person bring any bad habits into our firm?
  • Why is a good adviser leaving?

Having been with SimplyBiz since day one, we were aware of NMBA and that they were launching a new apprenticeship programme. Having looked at other apprenticeship providers, we felt NMBA was the right choice for us, trusting the quality and expertise they bring. 

For us, this was an opportunity to bring someone new into the firm with structure and support. It was cost-effective and gave us the freedom of being able to mould a new employee into what we needed. 

We decided to go ahead with an apprentice and began pre-screening interviews to find the right candidate. Someone who would fit in well at the firm had a passion for the role and we could be confident in passing their exams. 

With all of this in mind, we found Ashely, who was hired and, later, enrolled onto the NMBA’s Financial Adviser Apprenticeship Programme.

Ashley joined the team 14 months ago, and Simpson Kelly couldn’t be happier with how the whole process has worked out. All of the Directors have spent time investing in Ashley’s training and development and are proud of his achievements, with Craig adding to the praise for Ashely, saying:

“It’s a testament to his hard work and commitment that he’s passed all of his exams, first time round.”

Ashley is currently working in a new business and paraplanning role which is giving him a thorough understanding of the business on top of his learning. From there, he’ll gradually move into a full-time adviser role. At the minute, there isn’t an endpoint for Ashely’s development and he’s hoping to process to chartered. 

Hiring Ashely brought with it a myriad of benefits to the firm. Not only did it help cement Simpson Kelly’s succession plan, but the additional resource has meant current advisers have more time for existing clients and growing the business. 

As a younger member team, he also brings with him more up to date IT knowledge and skills that the whole firm has benefited from. 

Having had such a positive experience, and with growth plans still firmly on the agenda, Simpson Kelly is looking at securing another apprentice to continue their plans for development and sustainability.

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