As a membership club PCD Club provides a number of touch points between guests, some unique, which are essential for meaningful long term business development. The Club has developed over the years to a point where it now has a global footprint and an enviably diverse calendar in London and further afield.
We wanted to know more about The PCD Club events, who attends and how small or medium sized private client practises can stand out, what they can expect, and what is to come from The Private Client Dining Club.
We sat down with David Bell, founder of 'The Club'. Finding himself in a similar position to many of The Club's members, David wanted to engage with professional contacts he knew, liked and trusted and, more than that, he wanted to expand his network and develop his relationships with key contacts through his connections with existing contacts. The ultimate peer to peer network(ing).
For a company like Prime Cap, the idea of one's trusted contact propagating one's business by word of mouth is a very strong attraction. The key feature of many of the PCD Club events is personal exposure. Sitting down with fellow attendees over dinner gives you access that is second only to a personal introduction from a friend or client and, like many of our fellow members, we believe that is worth paying for.
David, you’ve been in the position of many of your members - personally nurturing a network in pursuit of solid and qualified private client contacts and, ultimately, 'referrals'. What advice would you give members arriving at a PCD Club event?
The only way to network with professionals is with a relaxed and open mind.
Try and learn and understand the business of those you are speaking to.
I always try and work out if there is anyone in my network already that I should connect them with. Very few people actually seek to help someone else before pursing their own agenda, and doing so helps you stand out.
When you have built rapport and 'capital' in a relationship you can ask for something in return, when the time is right.
Now turned ‘game keeper’, what do you look for in a PCD Club member and how do you ensure the standards across the network in terms of applicants for membership?
My ideal member is good company, gets involved with our events in other jurisdictions and has a relevant product or service to provide.
The group has grown organically from a base of quality people. Now that we typically charge £1,200 + VAT for the year for membership, we can keep quality high more easily as those prepared to pay that amount are usually from the right firms.
The tone of our events is relaxed and very sales orientated people don't find it appealing.
PCD Club has a footprint in nearly every established HNW private client hub, globally. To what extent do the events differ regionally?
We have developed a consistent format across locations, which is recognisable.
One of the big differences is general business confidence: there is a great sense of opportunity at our events in the Middle East or Hong Kong versus events in Europe.
Advisors are looking after international clients with similar challenges in their personal and business life. That similarity creates common ground for them to explore opportunities together.
New international connections help advisors break out of over-broked domestic markets.
What can a would-be member expect from one of your events?
They can expect to meet high quality, sociable professional people actively engaged in the private wealth sector.
Most guests come from private banking, legal or tax professions.
We operate well organised events in nice venues that are centrally located. The evening is structured to maximise the opportunity to meet other guests in a relaxed way.
Where would you like to go next? What is the frontier you would like to breach?
We would like to enter the US for an event in New York and Miami next year.
We are also trying to become more established in Asia.
If you look at the macro economic forces and trends, any international business today has to have an answer on how to do business with the US and / or China. They are the powerhouse economies that will define the global economic agenda. Europe is a stable environment for professional services but will not yield explosive growth in any particular sector.
The concept behind PCD Club is almost the antithesis of the online, avatar driven networking that characterises millennial network building at the moment, and yet, PCD Club’s growth has been incredibly strong in recent years. Why do you think that is?
Ultimately people want to meet and understand each other.
Online platforms like Linkedin have been great for PCD in bringing the online into the real world.
We are seeking a strong online presence to support our Live events. As our network gets more international and global, we will seek to introduce more tools to connect members in distant geographic locations to help facilitate business.
It is hard to establish real trust through an online or virtual connection, this comes with spending time together.
As you can probably tell, we at Prime Cap are big fans of PCD Club. It is, however, just one of the channels through which we seek to nurture and develop relationships with complementary private client businesses.
What David outlines above speaks strongly not just to the way we like to work, but in support of our own experiences of dealing with internationally minded advisors to private clients.
Rapport is key and without it one can't really develop beyond small talk. A great many business development or salesmen and women think that product and circumstance serve as key persuaders. That somehow the fact that you're both at the same event means you share something. You simply cannot beat having an openness to remember and refer other members. Demonstrating that you are thinking about fellow members 'outside the chamber' (as it were) is a sure fire way of standing out from the crowd.
Over time we have been able to demonstrate credibility. The very first person next to whom our MD sat at his first PCD Club meeting (in 2010) is still a valuable client and referrer. He was an accountant and only attended once, but, on the strength of the connection made on that one occasion, PCD Club has become a fixture in our calendar.
We have found that as our commitment to things like PCD Club has gone on our reputation has grown. Now, that may just be people being polite and giving us a knowing nod when we mention the name of our company, but, we are receiving business and referrals from PCD Club members we've not actually met...and we believe it is because of the unique focus of the PCD Club evenings. Through their format we have been able to make meaningful connections that go beyond our immediate sphere - and that is worth paying for.
"Engaging and inquisitive people with a common goal -
to get to know industry peers in an informal setting...
Thoroughly worthwhile and I will be suggesting it to my own contacts"
MD | Prime Cap.