By Cameron Cogle, Head of Advice (South), Centrepoint Alliance
COVID-19 has changed a number of things for businesses. The most common thing I hear from advisers is how easily and quickly their people adapted to working remotely. There’s a clear desire for this way of working to become the ‘new way’ – with most advisers looking at flexible arrangements and a hybrid version of the office environment.
It’s not surprising. Most advisers tell me this new arrangement hasn’t cost them any clients – in fact, it’s made them more efficient. Zoom meetings now start and finish on time and they don’t have the lengthy commutes that come with face-to-face client meetings. Being forced to use new and existing technology and systems has made them more productive. Some have even found the time to look at new tech like virtual assistants to further improve efficiencies within the business.
With less people working from the office, cost savings are no doubt on the cards as well. More and more advisers will start consolidating office spaces and reviewing resource allocation, and I think this will likely become the new norm.
While the way we work will definitely change for the long term, the most common challenge remains as always: how do I maintain a business that’s sustainable? How do I work smarter and grow?
In a post COVID-19 world, this is what I’m telling advisers.
New clients still need in-person meetings
As some advisers have seen, new business can suffer when we move 100% of our meetings online. Building trust with new prospects or clients is difficult to do virtually. Advisers will need to dedicate time to developing new relationships in person, so they can continue a lasting and successful connection online, moving forward.
Working from home isn’t for everyone
Some people find it challenging to focus on work outside of the office. They might decide they don’t want to work remotely. But if they opt for flexible working, they’ll need to be disciplined and develop a routine for their days at home. Otherwise productivity will suffer.
Get on the front foot
After the challenging times we’ve been through in the sector, there are four key areas of business I suggest advisers look at right now.
1. Strategy: A clear strategy will drive your business focus and articulate to clients the value you bring to their lives. Begin by getting clear on what you want to achieve for the next three to five years. Then reflect, assess and design a strategy that may encompass a review of pricing, resource allocation, growth strategy and/or succession planning. Client strategy is critical to your success; know your clients, target market and how you can help them.
2. Processes: Your processes will help create an efficient operation where costs are lower, quicker delivery of services, more customised to the needs of your clients. More importantly, your processes are a big contribution to achieving the strategy and customer satisfaction. Ask yourself, do you have clear process in place? Is the business utilising the right systems and tools? Should you utilise outsourcing or insourcing?
3. Compliance: Do your processes incorporate consistent compliance checks and balances to help drive greater adherence to a rapidly changing legislative requirements? You need to integrate compliance requirements into your processes to deliver consistent results with adherence to Best Interest Duty and FASEA Code of Ethics.
4. People: Your people are your most valuable assets in your business. When was the last comprehensive review of their capabilities, ambitions and interests? These conversations are important for an employer to identify where training and upskilling is needed to drive a compliant and efficient business. Your people are the ones who will identify and simplify your processes if given the opportunity.
All four elements are interconnected. Before you execute your strategy, you need to make sure your processes and systems are spot on. Your people need to be trained and skilled not only for compliance, but also to execute your strategy and use your tools and systems.
If you get all four right, you can be sure that you’re running a healthy, sustainable business. A business that someone will pay a premium for when you’re ready to retire.
I’m a firm believer that no one wins from sitting still. Now is the time to start moving ahead – because if you come out of this exactly where you were before the pandemic, you’re missing an opportunity.