Meet Ben Wright, Chief Innovation Officer & Director of Progress

Ben Wright smiling

Ben knows first-hand the challenges and rewards of working as a financial planner, having started in the profession 20 years ago.

Speaking with Victoria Hicks, Ben recalls, “I know what it’s like to sit in front of a client and then process a mountain of paperwork afterwards. In those days, we did all our own appointment booking, admin, and processing too.

“I moved up to managing teams of advisers and then to a financial advice network. From there, I became MD of a multi-asset fund range, which we later sold before joining the board to develop new ways of making life easier for the network, advisers, and their clients.

“After eight years or so, I’d come to a point where I wanted to build something of my own and I decided to leave, but then I completely chickened out. Coincidentally two weeks later, a restructure was announced, which gave me the nudge I needed. It really felt like the universe had spoken.”

From here, Change Squared was born and the rest is history!

What unique strategies or methodologies do you implement to help businesses grow that set you apart from other consultants in the field?

“I use a lot of psychology in what I do. Understanding behavioural biases and positioning a change project or client journey the right way can be the difference between success and failure.

“As a GCologist, I help business leaders use The GC Index to understand why they act the way they do, and how they can best work with their colleagues who see the world through a different lens.”

Find out more about the Melo approach to leadership coaching and The GC Index.

What are some of the most common challenges businesses face when trying to scale, and how do you address these issues?

“The biggest issue I come across in financial planning firms is increasing productivity without devaluing their offering.

“It’s easy to think that a new piece of technology will solve the productivity puzzle, but good technology operating under bad processes actually makes things worse.

“I encourage all firms to undertake a mapping exercise of their own processes, using a consultant to challenge and provide insight into how the best firms in the profession do things.

“Having that external view is key because you can’t objectively mark your own homework.”

How do you measure success for your clients? What key performance indicators (KPls) do you focus on, and how do you ensure that these metrics align with the business’s long-term goals?

“Each business will have different goals, so the measures will be specific to them. I prefer OKRs (objectives and key results) as an alternative to KPIs, which helps focus on the outcome rather than just metrics.

“That said, most businesses tend to want to change to improve their profitability, so that’s a great measure to track.

“Firms also tend to want to improve – or at least not degrade – the client experience as a result of the change. Client feedback is an excellent way to track this – but not traditional satisfaction surveys. You need to ask questions that will give you real insight.

“I’m a big fan of the Elevation tool from VouchedFor.”

The business landscape is constantly evolving. How do you stay ahead of trends and ensure that your strategies remain effective in a rapidly changing environment?

I make a point of going to a range of industry events throughout the year (fintech ones are a favourite) to see what topics are being discussed and hoover up new ideas.

My position as a Member Director on the Personal Finance Society (PFS) board gives me a unique view of our profession and access to people I wouldn’t normally be able to talk to (like the FCA and the leaders of other industry bodies) – which is a great way to keep a finger on the pulse of what’s going on in our profession.

“I also have regular catchups with clients who let me know what’s going on in their world and what’s concerning them the most.

“Lastly, I read a lot of books!”

Building strong relationships with clients is crucial. How do you foster trust and collaboration with your clients, and how do you handle situations where there might be resistance to change?

Most of the time, I’m approached by the owner or a senior leader in a financial planning business who knows that they need to change but they’re struggling to work out how, or what to do. Resistance to change tends to come from others in the business who haven’t had the same realisation.

“As a species, we don’t like change. There’s safety and security in the known and a fear of the unknown. I’ve found the best way to tackle this is with awesome communication to help people feel reassured they know what’s coming.

“Clients tend to say that positioning our team as “external experts” makes the message clearer and easier to accept, than if an internal person runs the communications.”

What is one piece of advice you wish you had received early in your career? How has this insight influenced your approach to business growth and your ability to mentor others?

“It’s OK to fail, but fail fast, learn and move on.

“When I look back, I’ve spent way too much effort trying to keep doomed projects alive by throwing all my energy into them. There’s a real power in knowing when to say, this isn’t going to work so let’s bin it and try a different approach.”

What is your personal BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goal), and what is your BHAG for the profession?

Financial planning has given me a wonderful life. It’s allowed me to help people, do interesting work, and better myself, yet it’s still a career that most of us fell into – very few consciously chose this path. I want to change that.”

“We desperately need new blood coming into the industry and some of my work with the PFS is to raise the profile of the profession in schools and universities to get young people thinking, ‘I want to be a financial planner when I grow up’.

“It feels like we’ve got a long way to go, but if I can help increase the number of people joining our wonderful profession, I’ll be a happy man.”

Get in touch

If you’re an adviser who’s looking to shake up your business and make positive changes, we can help.

To find out more, email or call 0113 4656 111.


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