A core challenge for any business owner is managing what’s happening inside their business and what’s happening outside their business, especially during the current period of change in the industry.
For advisers, the last few years have seen significant upheavals taking place outside the business – FOFA, opt-in, FDS, MySuper, LIF, FASEA and recently the royal commission and the “fee for no service” headlines – upheavals that threaten to take business owners away from their business’ core operations and purpose.
Advice practices confront these external headwinds in three ways:
- Stagnate. The focus on what's happening outside the business sidelines the practice in regulation and red-tape at the expense of what’s happening inside the business and its growth and operations.
- Adapt and thrive. Remain agile in dealing with and adapting to what’s happening outside the business while maintaining focus on what’s happening inside the business and its development and growth.
Practices that hope to navigate these headwinds need to master five core fundamentals to reinforce their practice and its operations.
- They are clear on the business they are building
Be clear on the business you are building now and into the future. This includes the longer-term questions of what do I want my business to look like, what is my day to day role, and how do I exit; as well as the “now” of understanding the value you add to your clients, the value you add to your staff, how you deliver and service your clients, and how they pay for your advice!
Whether you are building a “corporatised” model or you are the principal and practitioner, as your business grows and evolves ensure your ongoing planning, short and long-term decision-making and behaviours, and internal operations and structures are aligned and consistent with this vision and plan.
- They have clarity on their target market and how to engage with them
Who is your ideal client and why? Build an understanding and profile of who you are trying to attract as clients to your business, understand their needs and expectations and importantly understand the value you add to them – why do they use you as an adviser?
Then you can focus your activity on how to engage, interact and attract your target market into the practice.
- Their systems and processes are designed to deliver to their target market
Through understanding the issues, expectations and what is important to your target market, you can then design and deliver a proposition around their needs – in a way that is easy for them to do business with you and that is simple, engaging and scale-able.
Your systems, processes and technology should lay the foundation for your client interactions from attracting and onboarding through to ongoing servicing, relationships and retention.
- They maintain relevance to their target market
Client needs and expectations change and evolve. When did you last speak to your clients about the services you offer and their future needs and expectations of you as their adviser?
Stay engaged with your clients and understand their changing needs and expectations – and importantly be agile and bold enough to ensure your offering grows with your clients – whether this be how your offering is delivered or in fact the services you offer.
- They have built a trusted expert panel
Build a team around you who will challenge and guide and help you stay on track. Use a combination of formal board meetings to measure and monitor business performance and facilitate ongoing planning in combination with informal mentoring to share the stresses and strains of being a business owner.
Applying these core fundamentals to your business will you help maintain clarity on your purpose and business strategy; provide you with a defined and clear client value proposition that attracts your ideal clients into the practice; and empower you to build and develop a team, infrastructure and operational framework that is aligned to your purpose and strategy, remains relevant and provides exceptional outcomes to your clients.
Ultimately, this will deliver a commercially sustainable business creating value for shareholders, value for team members and value for clients.
Anthony Landahl is the founder of Equilibria Finance, a mortgage broking practice specialising in delivering mortgage and finance solutions to the clients of financial advice and accounting practices.
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