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Business Strategy

I'd like to invest in the automatic dog feeder from China

Anne-Graham's avatar
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5 months ago

It was some time ago now that we received a couple of odd emails from clients. Let me set the scene:

The first email was from a client wanting additional cash to buy a caravan. Given that our client base is predominantly retirees, this was quite typical and par for the course. I’ve known Bev (not her real name) for a very long time, and as a testament to our relationship, she calls me Annie.

So, when the email was addressed to Annie, from a long-standing client, wanting cash for a caravan, nothing seemed unusual – except that I’d seen her less than a week earlier and she hadn’t mentioned the van!

The second email was from another mature client, an ex-lawyer, who wanted funds to invest in "an automatic dog-feeder from China". This was alarming because Don (also not his real name) is a very conservative person, to the point where anything from overseas was considered risky. So what was going on with a dog feeder from China?

This is where the process comes into play. As with most (if not all) advice businesses, we call our clients to confirm any request for cash. Not only is it essential for due diligence and security, but it also adds a personal touch and an opportunity to engage with the client. As an aside, we also call the number on our CRM, not on the email.

The responses from the clients were poles apart but did have one thing in common –  concern and a touch of panic.

Bev was concerned her email account had been hacked; as it turns out, she was right. She’d clicked a link sent to her by a friend, which began the saga of her emails being compromised. She thanked me profusely and eventually sorted out her emails, assuring me she wasn't intending to purchase a van – for now.

Don was also concerned, but not about his email account. Rather, he thought the problem stemmed from a breach of security in our office. Eventually, he realized the issues hadn’t stemmed from us, and to my knowledge, hasn't invested in the automatic dog-feeder.

We had been trained on email scams and other risks on numerous occasions and that training, office-wide, held us in good stead. Not only did we follow the standard process of speaking to clients, but we were able to discuss the clients’ security breaches and provide some information on what may have happened and what they might be able to do going forward.

In addition, we were able to confidently discuss the steps we’ve taken to protect client data, mitigate potential losses and explain we have a plan in place should there be a breach.

Even though advisers and their teams may be familiar with the risks posed by cybercrime and the extraordinary lengths the hackers will take to obtain information, clients (especially those who are retired or not tech-savvy) aren’t necessarily as vigilant or educated. We’ve taken our experiences and shared them with our clients in the hope of raising awareness.

Updated 5 months ago
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