What a year 2019 has turned out to be so far. The team in Lincoln has pulled out all the stops to ensure that the Society, your Society, listens and acts on your comments and suggestions.
As soon as we returned to work in January, the team had a day brainstorming what we needed to do.
It soon became obvious that communication between the Society and our Members needed to be the main priority.
One of the first things to look at was the weekly newsletter, last year were amongst the lowest figures of ‘openings’ we had ever had. This was something that we had identified.
It now goes out via email in a new format; firstly, we identified it had to be emailed on time every week to give continuity, and the content had to be condensed so it was to be more of a coffee break read.
Anthony took on the responsibility for this and with input from other members of the team, this has been successfully achieved. We still only get about 40% of emails being opened which is disappointing considering the work that goes into it every week, however this is still well above the industry average.
Focus SWW is the Society’s premier e-magazine published 4 times a year, created and written in house for the benefit of the Members and their clients as well as anyone else that wants access to it.
To ensure that we cater for all groups, we do not publish any costs or prices in the issues, and all back issues are available to download and print at any time.
Whilst functional, the current website is beginning to look somewhat dated, so I’m pleased to announce that there is a brand new web site in construction at this moment and the launch should be sometime in August. The new site will bring with it a lot more functionality in terms of the find a member section, as well as a much fresher look across the board.
Professional Standards Board
Getting this right is extremely important, and we now have the team available and our first meeting is scheduled for early September to begin planning the future programme. I for one am extremely excited at the future prospects and how much the PSB can do to help lift the credibility of Society Members, in the eyes of not only the general public but also other professional bodies such as the LSB, LeO and the CMA as well as other trade bodies in our field, and to become even more recognised than we are today.
In order to arrive at the new PSB Members we held an open day in East Midlands and invited members to attend or put pen to paper outlining their views and comments and these have all been taken into account when it comes to drafting the forthcoming schedule for the PSB.
The Society this year has invested heavily in both time and money on social media, with constant output and a series of videos, professionally produced but presented by the team here in Lincoln. This exercise designed to run for a year will, we hope, raise the profile of the Society, the importance of making a Will and especially the benefits and importance of using a Society Member.
All social media platforms are being used now effectively to benefit the Society and its Members and I’d encourage you to engage with us as much as possible by way of sharing, liking and commenting on the content that we produce.
The College of Will Writing
The greatest success in the past 5 years must be without doubt the opening of the College building here at Lincoln. Despite the few criticisms such as “it’s too far”, which, if people stopped and thought first wherever it is, will be too far for someone.
We do offer courses which are available to members through their Regional Group, giving more access to Members who cannot get to Lincoln, the courses can be held locally, but it does require minimum numbers so I’d advise talking to your Chairperson for more information.
However, with that said we are still putting over 600 students a year through the College and another 80 students via distance learning methods in its first year alone.
A new range of courses has also been set for September, we are trialling two of them this week, all aimed at building your client bank, from how to make employ better sales techniques making for powerful presentations to generating leads effectively and legally. See the College website for dates and further information on these courses and the many others we offer.
The Society currently has twenty local and regional groups around the country, we do have some vacancies for Chairpersons, so we would like to hear from you if you can help, even on a temporary basis. Help is available from head office in Lincoln as well as some small financial incentives for the Chairpersons.
The Society is now turning its attention to the Regions and how best we can help build the groups. We have written to all the Chairpersons asking for their ideas and suggestions and once we have these the Society will be emailing all members by region asking for their thoughts on what they feel could encourage more members to attend.
I personally am looking to have all the Regions fully manned by the end of the year.
We are planning to launch our first set of downloadable podcasts in the Autumn, I would hope before conference, but more likely to be late October early November. These will cover a range of topics and are being produced by the Society’s technical department.
These are just some of the items that we are addressing, and successfully.
Many of you will have attended one of the 2 Sure Will Writer Road Shows held this year, and I’m pleased to announce that in September there will be one held in the West Midlands. If you want to see how Sure Will Writer has progressed, remembering that nearly all of the additions have been by request of members, then this event is not to be missed. If, however, you can’t wait until September, please contact the office or visit the website now for a free 14-day free trial. Alternatively, you are always welcome to make an appointment to visit the office at Lincoln and see it first-hand in action, alternatively for regional and larger groups we can always come to you.
Please look out for the survey on the Regional Groups (and other areas of interest) on your desktop soon. It should not take more than a few minutes, but your views do count, and we do read everything that comes into the office.
Brian W McMillan
The Society of Will Writers and Estate Planning Practitioners