Jane Hodges, Managing Director of Money Honey Financial Planning, explains why client experience must come first and why her company has taken a tech-first attitude to providing financial advice.
Asked if client satisfaction should be the main priority for a financial adviser, Jane Hodges is clear, “I can’t think of what else would be. I just can’t think of anything else that should be on that list.”
The Managing Director of Money Honey Financial Planning elaborates, “If you do a good job for your client and them talking to you brings about a better outcome than before, then nothing else matters.”
Jane’s customer first attitude certainly appears to be paying dividends. Feedback for her service on VouchedFor, a leading review site where clients rate their financial advisers, is glowing and its badge of approval sits proudly alongside her photo on Money Honey’s website. “To have clients say such nice things is a real endorsement that I’m doing the right job,” she reflects.
While Jane is keen to ensure her clients understand the journey that they are being taken on, she feels other advisers can be prone to neglecting the details. As she puts it, “I believe our clients need to be informed and educated by the end of the process. There are a lot of advisers that don’t embrace that educational element of financial advice.”
What makes Money Honey’s impressive client satisfaction rating all the more noteworthy is the fact it doesn’t do in-person advice. To maximise efficiency, it’s all done online.
“We don’t have face-to-face meetings,” explains Jane, “we only ever work on video conference or client portal.”
Money Honey doesn’t just lean on new technology, it fully embraces it. Rather than a traditional two-step meeting approach — an initial assessment followed by recommendations — client-adviser relations are based on a constant flow of back-and-forth messages conducted predominantly via Skype and secure messages. Jane believes this way of conducting business puts the client more at ease, and removes the “pompous, suited and booted feel” of days gone by.
“Everything is done in stages,” she says. “We have no issues with taking 20 interactions to get to the end because then the client understands it all. We never move on until the client fully understands the advice.”
It’s not just clients and advisers that stay in touch via their computers. All of the advisers at Money Honey work from wherever suits them best, whether that be at home or on the road. It’s a practical measure. By keeping overheads down, the business is able to thrive.
“Money Honey will never have an office in a million trillion years,” explains Jane. “I don’t think that we can charge the fees we want to charge clients and run big offices and pay rent and those types of things. I think once you use technology you never need to go anywhere.”
While the set-up curtails traditional post-work trips to the pub, the team has found a novel way of maintaining camaraderie. “At 5pm on a Friday, myself and the team all go on a video conference and have a glass of wine or gin and tonic,” reveals Jane. “We natter for half an hour or an hour like you would on any Friday night!”
Does a technology-first attitude isolate the older generation? Jane doesn’t believe so. As she points out, “there are loads of people in their 70s and 80s who Skype their kids in Australia all the time and so we’re not asking them to do anything more clever than that.”
To emphasise her point, she’s quick to highlight the prevalence of online banking. “15 years ago when online banking came out there was uproar in the world,” she says. “They said it would never take off, no one will trust it and what happens if their email gets hacked. Now if you know anyone that doesn’t online bank it would be a small miracle. You have to judge it by the future not by what’s happening at the moment.”