After receiving a record number of excellent submissions, International Adviser’s panel of independent judges has recognised The Fry Group as the Best Overall Adviser Firm 2019.
The awards, run in partnership with Old Mutual International, recognise firms championing best practice across a number of categories in five key regions; the UK, Europe, Middle East, Asia and South Africa.
Not only did The Fry Group take home trophies in the Middle East, the UK, Europe, Hong Kong and Singapore – it was recognised as the Best Adviser Firm in three of those regions.
International Adviser reached out to the team at The Fry Group to get a better understanding of what makes this multi award-winning firm tick.
Jeremy Woodley, chief executive of The Fry Group, said that the firm’s success “really does demonstrate our ongoing commitment to the excellent service which lies at the heart of our work”.
“We’re very proud of this success – it ultimately reflects the quality of our advisers who work with intelligence and professionalism to create trusted, long-term client relationships.”
View of the industry
“In the past, this industry has suffered from the actions of the unscrupulous, which really did tarnish things for all, for a long time,” Woodley said.
That’s why the team at The Fry Group “feel strongly about regulation and transparency”.
“Key moments like RDR did begin to really change the landscape and improve the collective reputation of the entire sector.”
This is something Woodley is keen to support and nurture. “Firms should be client-centric and non-invasive, respecting that clients might not enjoy being chased or cold-called.
“We understand that we should only be talking to clients if they want to talk to us.”
Having a respectful relationship with clients offers firms the opportunity to ask for meaningful insights.
Chief commercial officer David Pugh added: “In this more transparent world, opinions are everywhere and we’re all used to seeing reviews of products and services.
“We must embrace this across the sector by inviting and listening to client feedback. Ultimately, this tells a far more powerful story about our work.”
Pugh described feedback tools and satisfaction surveys as “great ways for potential clients to understand other’s experience”.
“We shouldn’t be afraid to open ourselves up to reviews.
“Firms that are going to succeed must understand that clients need to feel that their adviser properly understands what they need and want from their investment portfolio, and use that knowledge accordingly and intelligently,” Pugh said.
Staying ahead of the curve
“The sector must also response to new trends,” he added. “Clients know what they want and we have to be able to respond to those very clear preferences.
“For example, more and more clients are taking into account ethical or sustainable investing, so it’s important that firms keep up-to-date with the pace of what’s available.”
Technology is going to play its part, Woodley said.
“It’s fully available and has benefits which need to be embraced. But firms have to take heed – it can’t be at the expense of the client relationships.”
Woodley continued: “That key element, the trust which has to exist between client and adviser, cannot be replaced with an online tool or report.
“It’s important not to create digital barriers; smarter ways of working must create more face-to-face time with clients.”
As a service-based sector, Woodley is keenly aware that the quality of advisers and the wider support team is paramount.
But, just like every firm in every jurisdiction, finding the next generation of advisers is no mean feat.
“Advisers must be given the opportunity for professional development and on-the-job mentoring, as well as in-house training for some of those soft skills which are vital in the client relationships process,” he said.
The Fry Group supports in-house training and development, with two recent recruits joining its graduate scheme. The firm also introduced a year-long internship programme to attract and develop the next generation of advisers.
Why enter the awards?
The Best Practice Adviser Awards will enter their fifth year in 2020, so International Adviser was keen to understand why The Fry Group has taken the time to enter.
Caroline Underhill, global marketing director, explained: “In today’s fast-paced, noisy, global environment; it’s clear that there is a lot of competition for almost every service and every product.
“That makes it hard for clients to differentiate one firm from another – particularly when it relates to the important decision about choosing who to entrust with anything financially related.”
Looking at whether a firm has won any well-known awards is one way clients can benchmark possible advisers, she said.
“Ultimately, awards provide credibility; a third-party endorsement of what a firm does and how it does it.”
Underhill said entering the awards was “a relatively recent step” in The Fry Group’s “rather long history”.
“Since then, we’ve enjoyed the process by which we consider which awards to enter, how we choose to respond to what the judges are looking at.
“Each entry allows us to take a closer look at what makes us qualified and helps us identify any areas for improvement.
“And when we win, the awards provide great feedback, allowing every member of staff the opportunity to take pride in our collective success,” she added.
If your firm is interested in entering the Best Practice Adviser Awards 2020 – you can register your interest now by clicking here.