Taking the heat
Here are signs that a business will survive difficult cycles.
Regulation changes, legislation updates, political debates, consumer criticism, media scrutiny – you name it, in the past 12 months our industry has experienced it.
And on the eve of the Trowbridge report, things continue to heat up.
But for great advice businesses, the upheaval as a result of this industry noise will be limited because they are already doing all the right things. Their businesses have been thriving through what might have been, and will continue to be, a fiery time for other practices.
What are the great businesses doing that will see them coming out the other end unscathed? Here are four signs that a business that can take the heat.
1. They aren’t having an identity crisis
Whether its focusing on risk, providing a full financial planning service, working with couples nearing retirement or focusing on Gen Y, great advice businesses know exactly who they are and what they need to do.
And they could tell you in 25 words or less, because they live and breathe it every day.
Advisers give clients strategies to mitigate risk and achieve their goals, but too often they don’t do the same for themselves.
It’s been said before, but I will say it again: do not underestimate the power of a written plan. It works. And the process doesn’t need to take you six weeks and thousands in consulting fees, it only needs to take a coffee and a couple of hours of focused thinking.
2. They’re surrounded by intelligent people
Smart people who know their craft – hire them as part of your team, partner with them for a mutually beneficial referral program or set up an advisory board that holds you accountable for delivering on your strategy. Plugging the gaps in your expertise is a classic Richard Branson move.
Don’t be afraid to aim high when you’re recruiting. I’ve heard people say that hiring is difficult because great people don’t want to work in small business, but that’s not true. If you have a clear vision for your business and you empower your people, great staff will want to blaze the trail alongside you.
3. They see the forest, not the trees
Keeping one ear out for those ongoing industry conversations is a no-brainer, but focusing all of your energy on it is not. Businesses that will survive and thrive have one ear to the ground and all of their other senses focused on their business and their clients.
Take a step back to work on the business, not in it. Start to systemise the parts of your business that can be systemised, but spend the majority of your time with your clients – they are and will always be the centre of any risk-advice business.
4. They are champions of change
Great businesses always look and think outside the square, beyond the horizon, below the surface. The best businesses don’t always accept the norm, they challenge it, and challenge it continuously.
An obvious action item here would be to put social and digital technologies on your to-do list. Another action item is to take a look at your business and identify one problem area, then think about how you might fix it if you had unlimited time and resources.
The goal is to go as big and broad as possible with your ideas – you might just find a little nugget that could lead to a very realistic and achievable fix.
Craig Parker is general manager of TAL-aligned licensee Affinia Financial Advisers
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