When you need us, we’ll be there, and we’ll be the best friends you’ve got, but otherwise we’ll keep a professional distance.
As a rule, we do not socialise with clients, but as with every rule there are exceptions. Some friends and family members who we’ve known for years have subsequently become clients of their own volition, and obviously we don’t stop socialising with them on that account. One rule we do have though is that we never go out of our way to advertise our services to family and friends. We do not want anyone to feel obliged to give us their business on account of a pre-existing social relationship, especially if they have another adviser they’ve had for years and with whom they’re happy. We have no desire to be like the false friends who live off their social circle. We’ve all met them, like the neighbour who was forever inviting my wife around to her health food / cosmetics / Tupperware / Ann Summers parties, or another particularly manipulative character who would entice her daughter’s friends to let her paint their nails before sending them home to their parents with a demand for payment they felt unable, out of politeness, to refuse.
We know advisers who wine and dine their clients, play golf with them, and shower them with sporting event tickets and the like. The one thing all these smoothies have in common is that their fees are vastly more expensive than ours. In reality, their clients are paying for their own days at the races and Wimbledon, and they are paying way over the odds. Another downside for clients of blurring the relationship’s professional/personal line is that an excessively-friendly relationship often means that clients don’t feel able to speak up if there’s anything they are unhappy about. We just want an honest relationship with our clients. We’ll do our best to make sure our clients have nothing to complain about, but if anyone is genuinely unhappy, we want them to feel free to tell us.
There is another very practical consideration. If we and our colleagues were at the races or playing golf with clients we wouldn’t be working, not in the proper sense at least, and if we were wining and dining clients every night, we’d soon be the fattest and least fit people in the business. In normal office hours, unless we’re on holiday or we’re working out of the office, we’re here for you.
Our aim is to make money for our clients, pure and simple. Minimising costs is half the battle. If you are our client and we make money for you, you can spend it how you like at whatever event you want to attend, and in whichever is your favourite restaurant. If you do that, we’re pretty sure you’ll enjoy yourself a lot more if you’re with your family and friends, than with your boring workaholic financial adviser. (And none of us play golf anyway!)