Preparing your business for success

Business Development financial advisers

By Barry Strapps, Business Consultant - SA / WA at Centrepoint Alliance

With COVID-19 affecting the way most Australian businesses operate, it is important to have clear visibility and goals in place to be able to adjust business plans quickly and reposition for the future.

The planning industry has experienced major disruption in the last few years due to legislative changes, but few would’ve expected the impact of this global pandemic. It’s always important for business owners to look to the future and plan for potential bumps in the road. Firms that have clear visibility are best positioned to weather the storm and coach their clients through to the other side.

The latest Future Ready VIII report from Business Health shows that 34% of advisory firms have a current Operational Plan (12 months) and only 29% have a documented Strategic plan (3-5 years). While this may seem concerning, the upside potential for a firm without documented plans is exciting. Surveys consistently show that firms with documented business plans build successful sustainable businesses using an approach of strategic assessment, planning and execution. And it’s never too late to start.

As we enter into a new post COVID phase, now is the perfect time for firms to assess their position and decide what they want their business to look like operationally in 12 months and strategically over the next 3-5 years.

Using your smarts
Centrepoint Alliance’s Business Consultants are resourced to assist firms in developing achievable goals for their business. We work with our firms using the SMART goals approach. Specific, Measurable, Action, Relevant and Time bound. You spend so much time working in your business assisting clients, however it is paramount to also spend time working on your business.

We always begin the process by assisting the business owner to list two or three business goals they’re looking to achieve in the next 12 months. Then we overlay with the SMART goals approach. We ensure accountability for each goal and how it can be achieved and by when.

Thinking about goals in this way allows business owners to roadmap their ideal future. If you can show courage to accept where you are today even though it may not be your ideal, you will be able to more easily plan for how to reduce the gap between your current and your desired position.

What is your cost to serve?
Understanding the profitability of your business is critical to enable the structure of your firm to withstand times of disruption, increasing cost and industry uncertainty.

Centrepoint’s Business Profitability Model (BPM) assists firms to understand the cost and profitability drivers of their business. It also provides functionality to design and price client service packages to increase business efficiency and improve client engagement.

Pricing of client advice and services can be a challenging exercise, however the BPM provides modelling functionality which overlays your tiered client service offering to ensure you’re running your business profitably while your clients are getting value from their investment.

Divide and conquer
I briefly mentioned segmented or tiered clients – the Future Ready VIII report revealed that 27% of firms have not identified their best clients or do not offer differentiated service.

If you understand the clients that you should be investing more time in, or which clients you should be nurturing, you will run your business more efficiently. Centrepoint’s Business Consultants assist firms with a process to efficiently segment their clients – a process that should be reviewed regularly with their staff every 12 months.

Here are the steps to segmenting clients for greater efficiency and improved profitability:

  1. Define and quantify each client’s value to the firm
  2. Determine your firm’s client service segments
  3. Test your model with sample clients
  4. Link to your Client Relationship Management (CRM)
  5. Create a process to review ensuring clients remain correctly segmented

Interestingly, 67% firms do not communicate with their best clients 10+ times per year. When you break that down, that means they’re speaking to top tier clients less than once a month.

In times of financial uncertainty, your clients want to feel reassured that their financial plans are still working for them, and you’re still providing the value they need as their financial advisor. Genuine communication that is useful and relevant is more important than ever in the current times of uncertainty.

Stability and confidence
If you’ve taken time to assess your current position, set some goals and potentially make some changes, you’ll feel more confident in not only operating effectively over the coming months, but building a sturdy platform for years of future success. This will give you the clarity to uncover new opportunities, better service your clients and run an effective, profitable business.