Lou- it’s the beginning of a great adventure!


We’d like to help – but are we right for you?

It’s a question every mature business services provider has to ask from time to time.

Your client loves you, may have grown up with you and has a special relationship with a key executive.But for one reason or another , you know their business model no longer’s aligned with yours.

Like every client, you owe a duty of care and that duty is to make it clear your firm cannot supply the service your client needs at a price the client can afford.

Even my firm , a relatively small actuarial consultancy, has a floor below which we cannot operate effectively. The major global actuarial and accountancy practices are geared to the needs of medium to large corporations and public sector employers, they are not geared to meet the needs of small and medium sized companies.

The word “geared” is helpful. The gearing system on a bicycle or car is set to the needs of the vehicle and its users. Farmers need torque not speed, a sprint cyclist wants a gearing that delivers blinding speed, not the ability to climb steep hills.

It’s analogies such as this that help us explain why we can’t work with some clients – small firms grow up and not always in the same direction.

Over the next few weeks, I will be talking with a number of the business,compliance and research heads of the major professional practices that dominate the pension skyline.

I will be selling my pension sourcing tool http://www.pensionplaypen.com. The pitch goes like this.

“the tool is built to the uncompromising standards you would expect from an actuarial practice, its research is conducted as you conduct research and the outputs of our analysis should mirror the outputs from your work.

The difference between the service offered by our online tool and what your clients receive from you is not one of quality , but of scale. Your clients have more problems, deeper issues and require bespoke solutions. Smaller companies do not have the breadth or depth of issues (well if they have they are in trouble!).

So we feel your clients should be using our service when you feel they are not right for you”.

The idea of “doing the right thing” by clients is not dead. Indeed in my dealings with professional service companies, I have recognised that the more mature, experienced and successful, the consultancy, the more it recognises goodwill as critical to future success.

So for the Towers Watsons, the KPMGs and the major law firms, referring business to smaller firms that share the same value set is nothing new. It is well known that these firms are geared in a different way to First Actuarial and a quite different way to http://www.pensionplaypen.com.

But I would like to think you could draw a line through the middle of us and it would be a straight line, marking the consistency of approach. Actuaries have a great phrase for this approach “best endeavours”.

This is my first blog of 2014, it is blowing a gale down here on the South Coast. I am looking out over the foaming tumult of waves ,my eye drawn to an horizon that merges sea and sky in a grey dawn.

Each year we start out again, not knowing where we will end up. The headwinds that beat into my face as I stand on my verandah, seem strong and adversary. So too does the task facing us as we try to grow our businesses in a hostile climate.

But if that storm was not blowing in my face, my best endeavours would be wasted. I wish you a challenging 2014, a year when you can exercise your best endeavours in the service of your clients. I wish you strength,good humour and fortitude and I hope you wish it back.

Lou Reed died late last year. This song is called Beginning of a Great Adventure and it’s been playing around my head all night.

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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1 Response to Lou- it’s the beginning of a great adventure!

  1. Wise words. It’s one thing to be ambitious and raise your game, another to overpromise and fall short.
    A great album by the Poet of New York that is hopeful and streetwise at the same time. You need a bus load of faith to get by.

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