GlenQ on moving beyond KYC to really know your customer
FYI … ROI … TBD … YTD …
Business acronyms. Don’t they just trip off the tongue? Just fall into line within ever shorter and increasingly less formal written communications?
And BTW (that’s ‘by the way’ … by the way), get ready for more of them. The acronym alphabet soup will never run dry.
KYC. There’s another. One so familiar to anyone working in the finance industry. You must ‘Know Your Customer’ before taking on their business – regulation, ethics, probity all demand it. KYC policy, KYC checks, KYC rating – the abbreviated layers of bureaucratic process rest heavily on the compliant shoulders of most organisations.
Yet has something been lost within this abbreviated world when it comes to KYC?
When did knowing your customer become an onerous chore rather than opportunistic choice? After all, isn’t getting to know your customer at the heart of every good relationship between a company and its clients? Which means putting genuine effort into getting beyond formalities and into the underlying DNA of what really makes them tick. To see the issues, spot future opportunities and propose solutions adding real value.
‘That’s certainly how it used to be,’ reflects Peter Rice, Client Services Director at Jersey-based wealth management experts GlenQ. ‘When knowing your customer was the guiding ethos of most businesses. Not just because regulation demanded it, but to understand them, their business affairs, family situation and aspirations for the future. Those things were really important when I started in the private wealth sector.’
Peter’s 30-year career has seen him working for such luminaries as Hill Samuel, Investec and Insinger Trust. There are fundamental differences, he recalls, between the industry he joined and worked in for many years and the one that exists today.
One driving change has been the loss of many smaller private wealth management companies and corresponding growth of larger counterparts.
‘Private equity owned organisations dominate these days,’ Peter acknowledges, ‘powerful, efficient and ruthlessly focused on the bottom line. Shareholders expect dividend forecasts hit, leading to stringent time-based client fees. Billing by the hour leaves little room for traditional relationship management.
‘But that’s what I enjoy most about private wealth management. Having the time needed to build bonds, understanding and trust without having to keep one eye on the clock. Which is why joining GlenQ was such a welcome move for me.’
GlenQ’s founding principle was putting customers at the heart of the business. Do the KYC, of course, but also invest time getting to know clients. Create estate planning, asset protection and future planning solutions tailored to best suit their individual requirements. Help build a network of trusted investment advisors and intermediaries based on an understanding of personal circumstances.
The GlenQ ethos is straightforward. Provide traditional wealth management services within a thoroughly 21st century outlook. Focus on clients often overlooked by larger finance companies these days. Provide the assurance of independent advice. And take the time needed to explain the benefits of choosing the right financial structures.
In Peter’s view, it’s a superior approach.
‘Over many years I learned the value of time taken to understand not just clients and their circumstances, but also their home countries and regions. We work in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Getting beneath the skin of these locations is so important if you’re to appreciate and meet client requirements and expectations. Finding the time to visit clients in their homes, for example, no matter how challenging it may be to reach some destinations. Taking this genuine interest provides insight and helps build the trust needed to sustain relationships over the longer term.’
That trust proved its worth as the Covid lockdown restricted business travel and opportunities for face-to-face contact. Despite these limitations, however, GlenQ continued growing its business, serving both existing customers and attracting new ones.
‘We’ve been fortunately able to keep in contact with clients using video calls and electronic communications,’ Peter validates, ‘and continue meeting their immediate needs. But normal relationship building activities based on personal visits will resume as soon as possible and practical. Emails are all well and good, but I’m looking forward to being AFK once again.’
That’s ‘Away From Keyboard’ if you need a little help with acronyms. Come on – get with it!