Categories and criteria:

1) Excellence in Business Strategy View criteria

Advisers are faced with the challenges of rising client expectations, tough markets and enhanced regulation. This award is for firms that have excelled in building a business for the long term with the ability to embrace transformation. The key focus of entries should be:
• How the firm has created a comprehensive three to five year strategy 
• Staff engagement in delivering the strategic objectives 
• How it is embracing regulation and good corporate governance
• Evidence of consistent profitable growth 


2) Excellence in Professional DevelopmentView criteria

Top quality professional staff are a key element in any successful adviser firm. Regulators demand the achievement of certain qualifications but the most successful firms go beyond that and create a professional development strategy for all staff at every level of the business. Entries should demonstrate:
• Alignment of professional development with the firm’s strategic objectives
• Investment in staff training and development
• Benchmarking against relevant external standards
• Evidence of the proportion of staff achieving relevant professional qualifications


3) Excellence in Client ServiceView criteria

Clients expect advisers to offer advice and solutions perfectly matched to their needs and provide top class service. Expectations in these areas have risen steadily and advisers have developed a more sophisticated understanding of their customer base as a result. This will be demonstrated in entries through:
• Successful segmentation of the firm’s customer base
• Innovation in the areas of client profiling and delivery of targeted service and advice
• Consistent levels of client retention
• Client focused fulfillment, ongoing communication and support


4) Excellence in MarketingView criteria

Reaching potential clients and sustaining effective communication with existing clients is an opportunity for firms to set themselves apart from their competitors. Among the features a successful entry should address are:
• How a marketing programme has reached new markets/clients
• Use of innovative multi-media techniques, including social media
• Development of a content marketing strategy focused on genuine client engagement 
• Evidence that marketing strategies have supported referral and retention programmes


5) Excellence in Operational EfficiencyView criteria

Top class businesses must run efficiently and cost-effectively. Internal systems, processes, IT, CRM and data management must all be aligned with the firm’s objectives. In particular, collecting, managing and using data is a key requirement for a modern business. These elements will be demonstrated by the winning entries, in particular:
• Showing how cost-effective internal efficiency supports the business
• Examples of improvements and enhancements that have benefited the firm, especially best practice and adviser support
• Evidence of the deployment of innovative data management techniques to extract greater value from datasets
• Development of rigorous data management policies to ensure compliance and effective protection of customer data in the light of GDPR and other regulatory requirements


6) Excellence in Investment PlanningView criteria

The best adviser firms have adopted new approaches in investment planning. These offer a range of solutions to clients backed by co-ordinated investment strategies and consistent financial planning processes. Among the key features of these will be:
• Fund selection and portfolio building that addresses clearly assessed client objectives
• The use of appropriate tools to assess clients and their attitude to risk
• A thorough approach to due diligence and de-risking portfolios
• Evidence of achievement of consistently above average client satisfaction ratings 


7) Best Adviser Firm - by regionView criteria

To enter this category, firms must submit an entry in at least one other category above.

The leading adviser firms have a comprehensive, business-wide strategy for profitable growth and development. They will have a consistent track-record and can demonstrate sustained success across the business. Entries must demonstrate and show evidence of:
• Successful development and delivery of a business strategy
• Profitable growth over more than one year and development of client base
• A genuinely customer centric approach to advice, service and overall best practice
• Excellence in compliance and risk management 



8) Overall Best Adviser Firm View criteria

The winners of the regional awards for Best Adviser Firm will be entered into the award for Best Overall Adviser Firm.