The Nurse Bryan Rule

The Nurse Bryan Rule

“We are what we repeatedly do.  Excellence then, is not an act, but a habit”


In working with our clients, our remit can cover a very wide range of issues and we pride ourselves on providing a comprehensive service.  However, so do lots of other firms – we’re not unique in that and certainly fee-based comprehensive financial planning is not the niche specialism it was even 10 years ago.

I believe that clients – quite rightly – take it for granted that we will provide them with the services they need, be they tax planning, estate planning, pension planning or whatever else, in the same way that they take it for granted that we are professionals who will maintain our knowledge and competence to do our jobs.  That is, and should be, a given.

A global study found that investors spend 475 hours a year (nearly 20 days, so most of a working month) worrying about money.  We don’t want our clients to be among them.  I believe that essentially clients need two things from us: someone they can trust and someone on whom they can rely.  Our job is to demonstrate that we can meet those needs.

“You don’t build it for yourself.  You know what the people want and you build it for them.”  Walt Disney

Robert and I expect a lot from our team and above all we expect them to be continually asking themselves this question:

“What can I contribute that will significantly affect the performance and the results of the company I work for?”

The Bloomsbury team is in a privileged position compared to the general working population: we get the opportunity to help other people every working day.

Are we here to make a living, or to make a difference in the lives of our clients?

Well, clearly the business has to make a profit but we believe that if we deliver on the latter, the former will follow.

I believe that a lot of the time we hit the mark but we’re not all the way there yet.

A reporter asked the legendary cellist Pablo Casals on his 95th birthday “Mr Casals, you’re 95 and the greatest cellist who ever lived.  Why do you still practice six hours a day?” Casals answered, “Because I think I’m making progress.”

Our challenge is to continually look for ways in which we can make our clients’ lives easier in terms of their interactions with us.  There are a number of things we do which are ingrained habits but we need to do more.  Sometimes, especially when we are very busy, it can be hard for the team to remember to take the time to take a step back and ask themselves whether what they are doing helps the client as much as it possibly can.

Enter ‘The Nurse Bryan Rule’.  As explained in Drucker’s book, Nurse Bryan was a long-serving nurse at a hospital in the US.  Whenever a decision needed to be made about patient care she would ask, “Are we doing the best we can do to help this patient?”  Her patients did better and recovered faster than those on other wards.  Over time, the hospital learned to adopt what came to be known as ‘Nurse Bryan’s Rule’, and were still using that rule long after she retired.

It can sometimes be hard to think somewhat abstractedly about how we can do things better, but I believe if we commit to trying to keep the question ‘What would Nurse Bryan do?’ at the front of our minds we’ll be more likely to be prompted to take that step back and consider what we’re doing.

Time (and feedback from our clients) will tell.