A short while ago, we decided to revisit what we know from experience is a notoriously tricky challenge: to review and bring up to date the form of words to express, as succinctly and memorably as possible, how we define our purpose here at The Fry Group. What, in essence, are we here to do?
There were those who doubted the wisdom of this exercise. Such things are always hard to put into words. It was said that even trying is a waste of time and tends to lead to disagreement. And anyway, don’t all of us – staff and clients alike – all know perfectly well what our purpose is, even if we might use slightly different words to express it?
Others – including me – took a different view. The firm has been growing and continues to do so. We have staff and clients who are relative newcomers, and don’t have that deep-seated, almost instinctive sense of what we’re about. As businesses grow, things that once everybody “just knew” need putting into words. We decided to give it a go.
On the basis of that experience, I can confirm that yes, it really is remarkably difficult. It’s easy to get close – to come up with something that’s not far away – but hitting the nail on the head is hard. Judging by quite a few of our competitors, the most popular idea seems to be that the purpose of firms like ours is to offer our clients “peace of mind,” which is a nice idea, but in my view an awfully big ask in today’s turbulent and volatile world. Several others go for ensuring clients maintain “financial wellbeing,” which vice versa seems like rather a little ask, if there is such a thing. We’d like to think we can help our clients do a bit better than that.
In the end, we came up with a simple thought that works for us. Our purpose, we said, is and always has been to help our clients achieve financial freedom.
We tried it on a number of guinea pigs, and most gave it a thumbs-up, which is unusual among guinea-pigs. Some were dubious and had one particular doubt. Was it, they wondered, a bit vague? What is financial freedom? And if you can’t define what it is, how do you help people to get it?
But I knew the vagueness is exactly what I like about it. Financial freedom means whatever you – and your nearest and dearest – want it to mean. If you’ve reached the time of retirement, it may indeed mean the stereotype of white sand and palm-fringed beaches. But if you’re at an earlier stage in life, achieving huge pleasure and satisfaction from working stupid hours building a brilliant business that’s reached the point of really flying, that palm-fringed beach might be a total turn-off. To a thousand different people, financial freedom might mean a thousand different things. The one thing they’d all have in common would be wanting to achieve absolutely as much as possible of what it means to them.
And that’s why financial freedom is great way to express our purpose at The Fry Group. Unpacking it into its two main parts, it’s our job to work with you on defining all the components of what financial freedom means to you – and then, when we understand your particular definition, putting in place the financial plans that will help you achieve it.
It’s the individual, personal aspirations that go into every plan that make our job so endlessly fascinating, challenging and frequently surprising. In future articles, I’m going to be exploring some of the many, many different aspirations that go into some of our clients’ own definitions of financial freedom – some that you might expect, and others you definitely wouldn’t.
If you’d like to contribute, please email any thoughts you may have on the subject to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.
David Pugh, Chief Strategy and Commercial Officer