One theme has been increasingly visible in some of the recent in-depth client feedback interviews we’ve done for firms. It’s connected to “commerciality” but it’s more profound than that.

It’s not “technical expertise”, and actually it’s not a client servicing issue either.

What it is, is about understanding the context in which the client works in. Their operating pressures, the environment in the sector they work in, and the types and demands of the different (external) stakeholders they work with.

Some clients have told us that understanding this enables the firm to be realistic, pragmatic, and to drive strategic value and the “right” result. Otherwise the firm can deliver something that looks great on paper but – crucially – that they don’t much benefit from in the real world.

Fee earner/professional advisor performance is hugely variable on this – but it doesn’t have to be.

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