Independent financial advice duo, Tristan Burd and Rachel Denham, are off to a flying start with their business Sandringham Financial Partners Darlington, thanks to support from the Durham Ambitious Business Start-ups (DABS) programme.
Operating as part of a network of financial planning professionals, Tristan and Rachel took the leap into self-employment in June and have since been busy planning and growing their new business.
With a competitive market and the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic changing customer behaviour, they knew they needed to stand out in the market. They wanted to offer something a bit different to other financial planning advisors that would make people remember and recommend them.
Taking part in the ERDF-funded DABS programme has helped them to create solid foundations for their business.
Tristan said: “The programmes have been really good for challenging our thinking around what our unique selling proposition (USP) would be, how we would attract customers and what the customer journey would look like. It’s been good to talk to people outside of our industry who were willing to challenge us harder on our ideas, as we’re not just accepting industry norms.”
Sandringham Financial Partners Darlington offers clients a detailed personal cash flow plan and a flat fee.
Tristan explained: “Every client receives their own personal cash flow plan which forms the focus of our planning and annual review with them. It allows us to show them with a lot of confidence, the impact of different options – for example, if they want to retire a year early, buy a new car or go on a dream holiday. If it looks like there will be a shortfall in their pension then we can help them plan for that by saving more, working for slightly longer or looking at different investment options.
“We also charge a flat fee for our services, which is quite different to many others in our industry who normally take a percentage of the assets under their management. It doesn’t make sense to us that some people have to pay a higher fee for the same service, so we feel a flat fee is fairer and offers better value for money.”
He continued: “The digital training was excellent in helping us think differently about how we will attract clients through social media. This is more important for us now because although COVID has increased demand for our services, those word of mouth recommendations have naturally lessened as people socialise less, so we need to adapt to online marketing. It’s helped us understand where to prioritise our marketing spending and the time we invest.”
Tristan is keen to encourage other County Durham aspiring and early-stage entrepreneurs to join the fully-funded DABS programme.
He said: “I absolutely recommend getting involved. Each business will be different and there will be something for everyone – you’ll get a lot out of it. It’s also great from a networking and social perspective. We have learned a lot from seeing what other similar-stage businesses are doing and making useful connections. Being able to talk to other people that are impartial, the courses and the one-to-one support has all been really useful in providing a sounding board, allowing us to bounce ideas.”
In future, Tristan and Rachel hope to recruit a team, but for now, they are focused on implementing what they have learned on the DABS programme – attracting more clients through digital marketing and managing their transition to digital ways of working.
DABS is an ERDF-funded programme that helps high-quality startups in County Durham start trading and offers premium quality support during those critical first 12 months in business. There are two support packages available – one for pre-start businesses with a great idea and the other for early-stage businesses. The programme is delivered by Business Durham, with support from delivery partners TEDCO, UMi and Candle Digital. Find out more about the DABS programme >