Reflections from the MDRT conference
I recently had the opportunity to attend the MDRT conference in Vancouver, and wanted to share with you some of what I took away from the experience and what I will be considering as a result in the coming 12 months.
First and foremost, it was very interesting to note that worldwide, advisers are concerned about retirement pre-planning and the transfer of assets to the next generation.
Although Australia’s ageing population and the impact that this has elsewhere is well noted, we, as advisers in Australia, are not alone in being proactive about the growing need for tailored aged care pre-planning services.
At Rando and Associates we’ve tackled this growing market proactively, hiring a new staff member (Naomi Rhyne) who has a background of 24 years working at Centrelink, has accountancy qualifications and is currently undertaking her Diploma of Financial Services, with a focus on aged care pre-planning.
Suffice to say, hearing from other advisers and presenters about the significance of this growing area internationally was affirming of our direction.
In terms of company productivity, Brad Bueermann of FP Transitions spoke about the importance of sound practice management and protecting your valuable time. As business owners we all know our hourly rate – but when you take out leave, professional development days, sitting down with business development managers and all the rest, your hourly rate may well be in the thousands.
He noted the importance of ‘gate-keepers’ and utilising your practice manager effectively to screen you from those key distractions that stop you from doing your job.
It made me reflect on my biggest distractions: emails, supplier visits and unnecessary communication around the office.
I’m just as guilty of the latter as the next person, but I do recognise that what is critical for creating a flourishing small business (friendly banter between staff) is the same thing that can affect your productivity if it goes on in excess. Furthermore, that lack of productivity flows downhill and the onus is on me to ensure we keep that balance.
In terms of managing time in the face of a flood of emails and other day-to-day distractions, once every two months we have an ‘offline’ day. The phones go to voicemail (with a strategy for urgent requests), emails get a break and the team has the opportunity to catch up on necessary administration and those tasks that tend to fall by the wayside in the face of day-to-day requests.
Brad, who is also well-known for his work on valuations and succession planning for practices, spoke about the four steps to sustainable succession/putting your practice on the market, being:
- Assess where you are
- Forecast your future value
- Determine your timeline
- Build your plan
He posed a series of questions to the audience to assist us in determining our revenue strength (considering net client growth, recurring revenue, licensed producers and GDC) and enterprise strength (considering staff, structure, professional compensation and equity owners).
These put your company somewhere between the X and Y axes, as to whether it is a job, practice, business or firm. I was pleased to find Rando and Associates upward in the firm quadrant and, again, it was affirming of some of the decisions we’ve made in the last two years, namely the importance of moving the company from one generation to the next and considering equity partners.
Bhupinder Anand of Anand Associates gave me food for thought with this statement: “Practices can be cheap, fast and good, but not all three at the same time”.
I got to thinking that we are fast and good, and that this fits well with our fee-for-service model, which has helped us go from strength to strength in the last few years, catering well to our desired client group of wealth accumulators aged 30 years and over.
Our clients are paying for and investing in quality advice and we don’t make apologies for that. The fees paid reflect our investment in education, and our superior systems.
Finally, one of the most enjoyable aspects of the conference program was the MDRT Speak Sessions. These were an opportunity to hear from advisers internationally about the best aspects of their businesses. They were only short talks, between three and 15 minutes, and there were some powerful speakers.
Ultimately it was an incredible opportunity to hear from some of the best in the world, and I would certainly recommend the 2017 conference to any adviser who has the opportunity to attend.
Mark Rando is the managing director of Rando and Associates.
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