I know, I know, consultant praising client isn’t always the most authentic of experiences, and I’m back on how smart St. James’s Place are for the second time in the last month. Still, they are.
I experienced the latest example of their smartness yesterday, at Claridge’s, where, every month, SJP puts on a day for people who are thinking of joining the Partnership – virtually all either IFAs or bank advisers. Yesterday there were about 70 potential recruits in the audience, and I must say I’ll be surprised if, I don’t know, say 60 of them don’t come on board.
Here are some smart things about the day.
1. It’s at Claridge’s. Not the Novotel Hammersmith or the Holiday Inn Victoria.
2. The invitation carries an SJP logo and the heading VIP INVITATION TO CLARIDGE’S.
3. SJP organises and pays for all travel and accommodation. The arrangements, as always with SJP arrangements, ran like clockwork.
4. The seven presenters include three main board directors (in fact, the two joint MDs and the CEO, David Bellamy).
5. Two of the others are real-life SJP partners who have successfully made the transition.
6. (Smartest bit of all) They’re thinking of adding me to the programme, and so wanted me to come along and sample the event. (Joke about smartest bit of all.)
7. Missing no opportunity to improve, rather than just have me sit there watching they asked me to write a report on the strengths and weaknesses of the day.
All right, none of this sounds absolutely brilliant, and some might say that going to so much trouble to impress a bunch of IFAs and bank financial advisers shows a certain anxiety about the ability to persuade them. But I don’t agree. SJP probably has two key messages that it wants to get across to these people: first that it is a business absolutely focused on its advisers, and second that its brand stands for quality and excellence. Before any of the speakers had said a word, the whole nature of the event had delivered both of these messages with maximum clarity and volume.
At the opposite extreme, I can remember receiving countless briefs in my ad-writing days from organisations aiming to be seen as prestigious, confident and successful, and wanting me to create these perceptions in black-and-white newspaper ads about the size of a postcard. In hindsight, I should have invited them to Claridge’s to explain where they were going wrong.