46 – Preparing your SOA

Given the way the law works, it makes sense for the SOA to be the central plank of your client service. The SOA contains the fruit of your work and it will also be the first place anyone looks when considering your work from a compliance point of view.

So, take the time to get this right.

Nothing shouts ‘low-quality’ quite like a spelling mistake. And the evidence is that spelling errors cost money, too. So, start with good spelling. Run spellcheck, and if you know your spelling can be iffy, have someone proofread your material. Use set paragraphs wherever possible, and Dover’s templates are a great place to source well-written, grammatically correct paragraphs.

If you are not using a Dover template, make sure that your SOA is a good looking document. Use the pages well: avoid things like headings at the bottom of a page or tables that run over two pages. Avoid blank space and be careful using graphs: when appropriate, graphs can be great, but if they are used to convey useless information they simply get in the way. They can also make the adviser look like he or she does not have anything useful to say.

Think about all the different people who might read your SOA. Your client? Of course. Their friends and family? You hope. Dover’s compliance team? Definitely. Their lawyer, FOS and a judge? Hopefully not, but maybe. 

Don’t rush the SOA.  Treat it the way a young bride treats her wedding photos: as important as the wedding itself. (Actually, most young brides see the photos as more important, much to the young groom’s chagrin, but let’s not get started). This is because the photos will be the permanent record of her special day.

Same with the SOA: it will be the permanent record of the service you provided. Not just your product recommendations – but the whole service that you provided.

The Dover Group