Who’s advising the advisers?

As is always the case, successful business owners will embrace the challenges of 2019 and look to take advantage of the opportunities they present. They will remain positive and proactive, and in doing so, they will invariably enlist the expertise and support of external professionals – people who know the business, the market and whose opinion they respect and listen to.

Assuming that a carefully thought-out plan will be required to navigate the changing environment, consider:

  • % of practices with a documented 12-month operational/business plan, 38% (Australia); 26% (USA)
  • % of practices with a documented 3-5 year strategic plan, 35% (Australia); 20% (USA)

While in past years, it might have been possible to ‘agree, but not do’ – I’m not too sure if this luxury will be open to us in 2019. The advice industry begins 2019 with a number of big-ticket factors in play and it’s clear that most of us are entering a year of major change and disruption.

So, here are our Top 10 Tips to help you prepare for 2019…

  • Draw a line under 2018 and determine how your business is placed for the year ahead. Objective and independent assessment is required across a range of business drivers – client satisfaction, staff and financial metrics for example. Benchmarking will prove useful.
  • Answer those hard, ‘big picture’ questions. For example, why are you doing what you’re doing? How long do you intend to remain actively involved in the business? Do you think your current staff are capable of running the business if you weren’t around? How well-placed is your licensee/broker dealer to support you? Will your current fee structure stand up to scrutiny in today’s new world? As difficult as these types of questions might be to answer, answered they must be!
  • Document a plan for your business. Clearly defined goals, actions, timeframes and accountability are required. And then (wait for it…) implement your agreed actions and strategies. As simple and intuitive as this sounds, in our experience, the number one reason why plans fail is – poor execution. Regularly track your progress and never be afraid to make changes if necessary.
  • Empower someone to hold you accountable (a business adviser/coach).
  • Keep abreast of industry trends and changes – regulatory, competitor, demographic, technology, new products and services. They’ll all be in play in 2019. Talk to people who know this ‘stuff’.
  • What’s keeping your clients awake at night? Does your practice truly address their concerns?
  • Check in regularly with your clients and referral partners – how satisfied are they with you and your practice? For clients, independent, anonymous and benchmarkable surveys are best.
  • Don’t take your staff for granted. How settled and happy are they? Again, independent, anonymous and benchmarkable surveys are best.
  • Protect the ongoing continuity of your business – are your insurances in place and up to date? Are your key people covered? How about your succession plan?
  • Never stop communicating. Clearly expressed, meaningful and frequent communication will be expected by clients, referral partners, business partners and centres of influence alike – all of whom have an interest in what their adviser is thinking and doing.

This is a lot of ‘stuff’ that will require time and energy, and it won’t be easy, but employing a trusted business adviser/coach will certainly help you to navigate the challenges ahead. While the challenges of running an advice business may loom as a threat (doing nothing is not an option), I believe there is also great opportunity – it’s worth the effort, as certainly the demand for professional financial planning is growing.

So as 2019 begins to unfold, we urge all business owners to find someone to help. Here’s who Australian advisers/business owners looked to for support in 2017/18:

  • PDM/BDM/Relationship Manager, 73%
  • CPA/accountant, 36%
  • Personal acquaintance/respected peer, 33%
  • Business coach (paid), 22%
  • Advisory board (paid or unpaid), 8%

Our very best wishes to you for a successful 2019!

For your consideration.

Terry Bell

Business Health Pty Ltd

All statistics in this article have been derived from the latest analysis of the Business Health 2017/2018 data warehouse.