Categories & criteria

We know this is an incredibly challenging time with the covid-19 pandemic putting enormous strain on firms around the world. But the best advisers have stepped up to the plate to support clients and staff and we want to give you the opportunity to demonstrate the excellence we know is the hallmark of every great adviser firm.

We also know that many firms are still focused on their long-term development and on delivering Best Practice across their business. These awards will ensure there is a global showcase for their achievements.

We have simplified the criteria for this year to help you enter. We are not expecting you to have the perfect answers – what we really want is great stories. This can be in the form of case studies that are supported by evidence and client and staff testimonials, which highlight any of the key elements of the criteria. Send us links to background information and the judges will do the rest.

Advisers are meeting the challenges of rising client expectations, tough markets and enhanced regulation. This award is for firms that have excelled in building a sustainable business underpinned by clear strategic vision. Entries can highlight the following:

  • How the firm has created a comprehensive three- to five-year strategy
  • Resilience in the face of the pandemic
  • Evidence of consistent profitable growth

Top quality professional staff are a key element in any successful adviser firm. Regulators demand the achievement of certain qualifications but the most successful firms go beyond that and create a professional development strategy for all staff at every level of the business. Entries can highlight the following:

  • Alignment of professional development with the firm’s strategic objectives
  • Investment in staff training and development
  • Evidence of the proportion of staff achieving relevant professional qualifications

Clients expect advisers to offer advice and solutions perfectly matched to their needs and provide top class service. The ability to deliver great service has been tested as never before This will be demonstrated in entries through:

  • Great communication, clearly focused on client concerns and needs
  • Successful segmentation of the firm’s customer base with the appropriate support and advice given to clients
  • Consistent levels of client retention

Reaching potential clients and sustaining effective communication with existing clients is an opportunity for firms to set themselves apart from their competitors. Among the features a successful entry should address are:

  • How a marketing programme has reached new markets/clients
  • Use of innovative multi-media techniques, including social media
  • Development of a content marketing strategy focused on genuine client engagement

The best adviser firms have adopted new approaches in investment planning and will have responded robustly to the challenges caused by recent turmoil in the markets. Whether it is in-house or outsourced solutions they need to be backed by co-ordinated investment strategies and consistent financial planning processes. Entries can highlight the following:

  • The use of appropriate tools to assess clients and their attitude to risk, especially extreme volatility
  • A thorough approach to due diligence and de-risking portfolios
  • Evidence of achievement of consistently above average client satisfaction ratings

Digital innovation is a core business necessity and cannot be ignored. Many adviser firms are leading the way with ground-breaking innovations and partnerships. This award is for them.

Entries should highlight:

  • Innovation promoting ease of use, perhaps through enhanced online services, or app-based solutions
  • Enhanced customer service and quality of information delivered digitally
  • Increased customer engagement and positive feedback using appropriate digital solutions

Diversity initiatives aimed at bringing new talent into the advice sector and opening up opportunities have been launched by many firms. This award is for an initiative that has addressed a diversity issue and delivered measurable success in the context of their market’s development, culture and specific diversity challenges. Entries might highlight:

  • How a firm has identified a lack of diversity and created a plan for addressing it
  • Internal programmes or recruitment initiatives aimed at enhancing career opportunities for any disadvantaged or under-represented group or groups
  • Evidence of the positive impact this has had on the firm

Top class businesses must run efficiently and cost-effectively. Internal systems, processes, IT, CRM, paraplanning, finance, training and HR must all be aligned with the firm’s objectives. The teams that run these functions are essential to the success of the best firms. This award is for the backoffice team(s) in your business and the key elements of winning entries could include:

  • Clear example(s) of how a support team(s) has made a difference to the overall operational efficiency of the business
  • Showing how cost-effective internal efficiency supports the business
  • Examples of improvements and enhancements that enabled the firm to respond effectively to events, market issues and volatility

Every sector needs new blood and fresh ideas and these are often found in new businesses. This award is for firms that have been operating for three years or less. They must have been established as a trading entity on or after 1 January 2017.

Open to any firm that can demonstrate success in making a noteworthy contribution to the advisory sector and is now looking to take the next step. Existing companies that became newly authorised within the same three year time frame also qualify. Entrants could include (examples only):

  • An adviser that has identified a significant market failing and/or gap and filled it
  • An adviser that has focused on using the latest technologies to offer innovative service solutions or target new client groups
  • A firm that has embedded best practice and the highest standards of professional advice in a new firm

The firm may not be significantly profitable or fulfilled all its objectives to date, but will need to demonstrate a plan that evidences its potential

To enter this category, firms must submit an entry in at least one other category.

The leading adviser firms have a comprehensive, business-wide strategy for profitable growth and development. They will have a consistent track-record and can demonstrate sustained success across the business. Entries must demonstrate and show evidence of:

  • Successful development and delivery of a business strategy
  • Profitable growth over time
  • A genuinely customer-centric approach to advice, service and overall best practice
  • Excellence in compliance and risk management

The winners of the regional awards for Best Adviser Firm will be entered into the award for Best Overall Adviser Firm.