Aug 012015

Professional genea-mates…. How many times have clients questioned, “How long will it take for you to find X, Y or Z?” Have you had people query your quote or ask if you could “do it any cheaper?” Sometimes, it seems to me as though people expect miracles in five minutes from us genealogists! Occasionally, magic can be achieved in a short space of time but this is a rare occurrence rather than the norm, don’t you find?

yippeeWould you ask an accountant if s/he could do the work you requested quicker? You might consider asking a professional if “that’s the best price”…. However, in my opinion, people expect genealogists to work for a much lower rate than other professionals. But, why is that?

At Family Wise Limited, we change lives. Often that takes a long time to achieve though! It doesn’t happen overnight. We can’t just flick a switch and make your family tree pop up out of nowhere…. or ensure that your birth family want to get in touch with you when you decide to make contact. But the “yippee” moments are well worth waiting for, whether it’s been a few days, a few weeks or a few months of waiting.

In the offices of FWL, we often scare the residents (two small furry creatures) when the cries of “Yippee”, “Get in there!” and other such phrases are uttered at high volume. This does not happen every day though sometimes – like today (Saturday) – it occurred on two separate occasions. Firstly, when an entry was located on Find A Will which showed the married sister of the deceased as administrator (thus confirming the link between the two siblings) and secondly, when we managed to work out the married name of a lady born with a relatively common surname (and hence, find an address and contact telephone number).

Two in one day…. what will Sunday bring? [A rest day?….Maybe…. Haha….]

Source image: Journey To Chew On

Jul 312015

Oh heavens…. How did it get to be this time of night? I have been up since 5:30am and I still have a bucket load of work left on the ‘must-do’ list. Mind you, most of it is really fun work…. (I’ll leave the boring paperwork until tomorrow). And so I sit here, mug of coffee in hand, looking back on a day of challenges once again….

arghOn Wonderful Wednesday, I commented on the financial establishments which I pray were not the choice of our deceased people. Yesterday, for some unaccountable reason, I chose to call Natwest, HSBC and NS&I all in one afternoon. What possessed me, I have no clue. However, two of the calls were extremely positive and resulted in the post I needed this morning. Having chased the Deputy Post Chief of FWL around the estate to claim our Special Delivery envelopes, I decided to brave the telephone for most of the day, one way or another and by far the most taxing was …. HSBC.

Ms HSBC Bereavement person answered the telephone and I immediately – having not received a call back as promised from a senior member of staff – ask to speak to a manager. “Can I help?” offers the lovely Ms HSBC. I reply, “Thank you but no”, though we go through security to verify my identity. “Let me just take a look at this case”, says Ms HSBC and without waiting for my reply, I am on hold for over 5 minutes.

By the time Ms HSBC has returned, I am somewhat infuriated having wasted over an hour yesterday. She gives me the same blather and false information as usual and so, I request – as I did initially – to be transferred to a manager. Not possible apparently and I am assured a call back before 5pm. Miraculously this does actually happen. However, it would be fair to say that an HSBC Bereavement Services Manager telling me about intestacy laws was somewhat laughable. Still failing to understand my position in the matter and giving me rather ludicrous responses to my questions, we finished the call with me being promised a call back from the Legal Team on Monday. We’ll see if that actually happens.

But seriously, why do I have to have the same problem every time with HSBC? It’s a waste of our time, energy, expertise and more. Train your staff properly and you might keep more of your customers. Mr E is long gone but I am sure he’ll be turning in his grave at how retentive you are being about releasing his funds to his children. Shame on you….

Jul 302015

Two years ago, I left the day job to become MD@FWL on a full-time basis. Straight away, I joined BNI. Having been in either education, research and/or management my entire life, I had no idea about this networking/referral marketing thing…. However, it soon became clear that I took to it like a duck to water. It made sense to me.

What I also had not realised was that during the long period of time I volunteered for a charitable organisation, I had built up a vast network of contacts around the work. Even better, those contacts were more than happy to do me a favour once in a while. So, we need a letter delivered in Boston, Massachusetts? No problem….! Or we need some research Down Under…. the Australian FWL Office is on hand to help. A potential beneficiary emigrates to Venezuela…. not to worry! We’ll find them! That’s what we do at FWL. The small matter of hundreds/thousands of miles/kilometres and a language barrier won’t stop us.

When I joined BNI, I attended a few of the training sessions offered and at one of them, we talked about inviting visitors to your Chapter. The question was asked: How wide is your network? We all (according to the trainer) know hundreds of business people who we could invite along to our breakfast meeting …. well, I know thousands but not very many of them live and work in shooting distance of my Chapter!

ThankYou2My network grew organically and certainly wasn’t developed to help me in my (now) line of work. I never imagined I would be able to follow my dream and do this full-time. When I left the day job, I think my colleagues were a little concerned that I might just have lost my sanity and they probably hoped that there would be a facility out there to help me at some point – in their eyes, in the near rather than distant future. Not so…. The network has expanded – through BNI and 4N as well as various other genealogical networks – and I cannot quite fathom how we are where we are today.

Thanks for all the support. That thanks goes out to all the FWL Team, FWL Friends & Family (many long suffering!) and all the FWL supporters…. worldwide.

Jul 292015

Great Scott! What an awesome day! Tuesday – if we are honest – was a bit crumby. Nothing major but just a few things didn’t quite work out the way we hoped. But, what a difference a day makes! A telephone call from the aunt of an adoptee first thing this morning, wanting to make contact with her nephew …. that was a brilliant start …. and it just got better and better.

ThumbsUpMost of the time, when our cases are accepted by the Government Legal Department (GLD), we have to chase down the assets and liabilities on the estate. There are occasions when the GLD hold the funds but this is generally for the more historic cases, not the ones we are usually involved in. So, we receive all the estate documents with the case referral form and initially, we just breathe a huge sigh of relief when the funds aren’t held by HSBC, Natwest, Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) or National Savings and Investments (NS&I). I kid you not…. one of the aforementioned groups asked for a specimen signature of the deceased the other week and others I have to have the same discussion, case after case after case, regarding who signs the release forms. I digress….

Mid-morning, I was on the telephone to RBS referring an ‘in branch payment’ made on a deceased account in November 2013, to a higher being within the firm. I was a little bewildered as to how the deceased had paid a rather random sum from his current account to his credit card some eight months after his demise. Wonders will never cease, it would seem!

I clicked ‘send/receive’ on my inbox during the call and opened a Word file attachment detailing the value of one of our recent cases. I had to check it three times to make sure I hadn’t read the figures wrong. It is the largest value single beneficiary case we have ever administered and the first claim for one of our newest Senior Researchers at FWL. Great to set the bar high on your first case….!

The day has just gone from one good news story to another and I have even managed to break down a few layers of brickwork on a challenging tracing case with very common surnames…. I think I had better keep going before the good luck runs out….!

Source image: All Things Learning

Jul 282015

People are funny things. They are all both genetically and inherently different. Becoming a successful entrepreneur (or dedicated employee) depends upon someone’s ability to understand the people around them. The more you try to make people think like you think, the more you’ll end up losing our cool with others, handing in your notice or, if you are in a position to, sacking an employee.

MondayMotivator2Did you know that there are sixteen personality types, with detailed descriptions attributed to each? You can even do a online test to find out your type/s (which I will be doing after this blog is written!). Earlier this year, I responded to the various motivational mapping questions and received a fascinating profile of me and the nine core motivations. Some score higher than others – as you would expect – but the one thing which did not surprise me at all was that the three highest motivations were searcher, creator and expert!

Two years ago, I left (for good) the career which I began in 2003. I had never dreamed of being ‘an entrepeneur’, a ‘Managing Director’…. in fact, I thought that I would always educate the young people of the future. And then ambition bit me….

The last year has seen great successes for me personally and also for FWL as a company. I always enjoy celebrating the achievements of others (even when life, for me, might not be going so well). However, there have also been numerous attempts made at setting me/us back….

We are a highly motivated team at FWL. We are the first to light the fireworks to recognise successes of others and when we are made aware of the plight of others, we rally to support and encourage them. How many other people do the same? Why is it that others feel threatened by success and feel the need to attack those who are successful?

Positivity is needed folks. Life is becoming more hectic, busier and impersonal every day. Take the time to support others. Value their place in society and encourage them. We don’t need a fan club to achieve our goals. We are our own motivation. But hey, we’d all like the fan club too, wouldn’t we!?

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