Know your client

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The Devil’s Advocate


In which the curmudgeonly old sod puts the world to rights.

Index — Click ᐅ to expand:

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Yes, yes yes there’s the worldwide military-industrial complex dedicated to rooting out money laundering — let’s not get drawn into the debate as to whether legalising drugs might be a better policy response than systematically exiling large sections of the emerging world economy and depriving them of access to the developed world’s capital markets — this is about actually knowing your clients, in the sense of being “authentic”. Having a good relationship with them, speaking to them, understanding their business, their expectations and their challenges, as a practical means of managing the risks, and opportunities, they present to your business.

Authentic” is, in modern management dialectic, an ugly adjective, but only on account of the fatuous nouns to which it is applied. The more you talk about authenticity, in the main, the more you tend to disingenuity.

This spills over to a number of Devil’s Advocate themes: communication and persuasion; plain English; data; tech.

To this end, reduce risk by building trust with your clients:

  • Get to know them. Encourage operational people to communicate informally and often. Encourage operational social interaction at low levels. (Spend £20 on a one-on-one lunch, not £10,000 on taking the CIO to Wimbledon).
  • Be personal, not adversarial. If you go to the legal docs, you’ve lost.
  • Be authentic in your communication:
Authentic Inauthentic
Personal relationships Legal contracts
Individual email “Client outreach”
Operations interaction CEO dialogue
Pitches Disclaimers
Phone calls Advertising
“You” and “us” “Party A” and “Party B”
Frank and the team at BFG BFG Client Services
Dear Lisa

I’m writing to let you know...

Dear Client:

Please be advised that...