We were recently referred to a couple known to our referrer as being individuals moving money for personal matters, one such being a probate matter in Austria.
As it often the case, the referral came in the form of an email copying in both our broking team and the potential client.
Soon after the introduction arrived in the team inbox we contacted the client electronically to ask if they might prefer to arrange a convenient time to speak with us about the matter alluded to in the introductory email sent by our referrer.
A few days later, having heard nothing from the client, our senior broker picked up the telephone to introduce us directly.
It is always tricky when taking such a forward step and it is contrary to most of the impulses of our team.
We didn't know if the client hadn't responded simply because they don't check their emails as often as we do, or because they weren't interested in our services, or because they just hadn't gotten round to it or because their payment wasn't imminent. There were a number of potential blind spots and we find that unnerving.
One of the important aspects of our service, being by referral, is the significance we place on updating the referring source of our interactions with their client.
For one thing, our referrers sometimes need just as much support and reassurance that their client is being dealt with diligently and sensitively, and we like being able to provide an update as to the progress of our discussions.
If a client is referred by an estate agent or a conveyancing solicitor then it can be important that we update stakeholders in the transit of funds. Likewise in matters relating to tax payments or the meeting of monthly deadlines.
Sadly in this case the client that answered the telephone had not read their email messages and was a touch confused as to who we were and the reason for our call.
This is not the best of starts because it means we have to quickly explain in as direct a manner as possible that we have been asked to introduce ourselves. It immediately causes us to question what other details about us and our work have been omitted or edited out of conversations between the client and the referrer.
It transpired that the client does engage in international payments to and from continental Europe. However, the referring party had not explained to the client why we might be of use and how that might be so.
Therefore, having received something of a random call from a heretofore unknown company, us, the client thanked us for our time but ushered us quickly to the door (figuratively).
This does not happen often.
The reason this does not happen often is because the referrers we work with usually inform their intended introduction of the reason for their connection to us.
Spotting that a client of yours already moves money is not quite enough of a hook to warrant blindly introducing a broker like us.
For one thing, if the client has not been informed of our role and specialism, they could rightly conclude that the referrer is simply providing their details to all and sundry without providing focussed context and without maybe understanding the wider context.
From the language used by the client in this case we can quickly tell that they do not use a foreign exchange company to conduct the exchanges they are already engaged in.
They used their bank and had done so for many years.
We can therefore deduce that there would be a benefit to our involvement and counsel in the matter of their exchanging funds.
Our pricing methodology is such that we will tailor our rates to ensure the client, at the very least, gets a more favourable rate.
It is hard to accept that we could not be of use and even harder to accept that our proposition and its uses were in fact undermined by an inadequate referral policy on the part of the referrer; that is very much a sour grapes mentality, but, we want every client who we can help to be at least amenable to a discussion.
So slim was the context provided by the referrer that there was no discussion to be had and, had we pressed the client, we firmly expect we would have undermined not only our own approach but the standing of the referrer.
It is certainly not the job of our referrers to qualify our clients for us. However, it is polite to suggest to the person whose details you are passing on that you have, on reflection, concluded that an introduction to a partner like Prime Cap might be valuable.
This is why we try to work to outline, with our retail client facing referrers, the usual and most appropriate ways of incorporating us in to their discussions with their client.
We want the referrer to look good and establishing there is an appetite, however meagre, for our rates and services is one way of respecting the client and their needs.
It is often the case that long standing customers of a banking institution are content with the method they use.
Yes, it is our role to 'convince' them of the benefits of what we do and it is fair to say this is a difficult thing to do if they are content with their current set up.
We don't want to try and sell our wears to someone who is not in the market to buy them, but, the role of an adviser is just that...to advise the client of better ways of doing things they already do.
All we can hope is that the referral does not reflect badly on the referrer and that, should they find themselves in a position to give context to the introduction for their client, the client will enquire with us directly. They won't regret it.
In an update to this post - the client referenced above has since been back in touch with our broking team.
They apologised to us for their initial response to our approach and acknowledged that they hadn't seen the email introducing us to them.
We are now looking forward to them getting back in touch with us in due course because they do in fact need to conduct an exchange and would like some advice and guidance as to how to do this most effectively.
Should we have waited? Did our telephone call prompt the client to look a little deeper? Have we made a good impression by following up with an apology of our own for the imposition of our initial call?
All of these are questions we may never know the answer to, but it all comes down to confidence in us, confidence in our referrers and an unflinching belief in the value of what we do both in method and in motivation.
The way we engage with clients referred to us is one of the differentiating aspects of us as a business.
We have been complimented on the deference we pay to the privacy of clients referred to us.
Never pushy and always approaching a referral as if it were a personal introduction conducted in person.
We like to think of ourselves as a friend of our partners. A friend who knows more about this niche area of personal financial services.
Being friendly and soft in our approach tends to compliment the style of our referrers too.
There is no pressure to engage us, just simple and sensible recommendations as to how the referred can make some changes to the way they make payments for the better.
If you would like to find out more about the way we work with partners in key niche markets, or how we might approach engaging your client base then please do get in touch with our team. You will find them well mannered, diligent and personable.