Jayson Forrest is the managing editor of Money & Life Magazine.
With 'New Horizons' as the theme of the 2019 Congress, six practitioners share the three things they are doing to prepare their businesses for the changes and challenges ahead, while also revealing what they expect to get from attending the Congress?
Michael Abrahamsson CFP® Director and Financial Planner, Flinders Wealth
Licensee: Flinders Wealth
As any business owner will testify, it takes time – and a certain maturity – to identify the ‘perfect’ client.
At Flinders Wealth, we have been able to create more value for our clients through a streamlined focus to connect with people we know we can help. In addition to increasing our value proposition, we have found it to drive efficiency in the business. We are prepared to say ‘no’ and refer clients outside our scope to other financial planners.
Understanding the ‘perfect’ client better qualifies a professional advice practice to review and improve its technology stack, while widening peripheral vision in the tireless pursuit of new and enhanced solutions. It enables an opportunity to upgrade advice documents and build out capabilities around cash-flow, budgeting and portfolio analysis.
We have been able to drill down and further invest in training, education and professional development; balancing learning activities to advance soft, technical, compliance and business skills.
The Flinders Wealth team is excited to attend the 2019 FPA Professionals Congress in Melbourne. We are looking forward to engaging with thought-provoking speakers and learning new ideas to implement in our practice. Importantly, it provides us with a great opportunity to keep an open dialogue with colleagues, build new networks and share our experiences with other planners.
Running a professional advice practice comes with many challenges, but we find Congress, and the support network it attracts, to be especially enjoyable and lucrative.
At Verse, we’re really focused on what we can control.
The broader changes across the industry have had little impact on where our team’s time and energy are directed. We’re focused on building a world-class client experience and helping clients live their best life. We believe that our future success and survival will be so closely correlated to the quality of the client experience, that we’re obsessive over it.
As part of working towards building a world-class client experience, we are:
Increasing our investment in technology to digitise more elements of the client experience, in particular, through their smartphone.
Leveraging technology automation and integration to make the delivery of the advice and experience more efficient and scalable.
Continually improving the quality of our advice and coaching, so we can add more value to the lives of clients.
Focusing on our highest margin services and clients, so we can create the resources to invest further in the client experience.
To facilitate the above, we run a 90-day framework called OKR, which stands for Objectives and Key Results. It’s a companywide approach to goal setting, prioritising and decision-making, made famous by Google.
This helps us become far more strategic about the direction of the business and evolution of the client experience. The process decentralises innovation and means that you can get your whole team working on combating the changes and challenges you may face in the future.
The top three priorities for my practice are : growth, pricing, and process.
As I’m growing my business and team, I am interested to hear from the speakers and my colleagues at Congress, while also contributing thought leadership myself, about the value and language of advice.
It’s crucial to the success of the profession that we create a dialogue that rebuilds trust with prospects and clients, enticing more Australians to seek advice. I want to know more about how to embed culture, ethics and my desired values into the practice, and how to promote and reward positive behaviours, both for the benefit of clients and to improve business outcomes.
When it comes to pricing our services, what do we need to do differently in order to deliver quality, compliant advice that is both profitable and sustainable for the business? Is it as simple as putting the price up, demonstrating more value, creating better quality assets, or being laser focused on attracting the ideal client?
At Congress, I’d be interested to hear what the experts say and discover what other practices are doing.
I also want to avoid the pitfalls of a start-up, as I move towards a lifestyle-centered business, by minimizing wasted time, missed opportunities, and the struggle and grind that can go on for years.
So, I’m building processes that are more future-focused and purpose-driven, that support the creation of value for clients and the practice, while helping me to become ‘time rich’, so I don’t burn out.
I expect to hear from the experts at Congress about how to nurture the mind and body so that I can preserve my energy and direct my time towards the vital aspects of running my practice.
As the industry adapts to the new world, there are three things that we’re doing to address the changes and challenges:
Taking advantage of technology: We’re looking at how we use digital technology to increase the accessibility of advice for clients and improve the efficiency of the production of advice. I believe technology also has a role to play in making the delivery of advice safer through supervision and monitoring, as opposed to auditing. Data also plays a critical role in running our business more efficiently and providing reporting that allows us to track and progress key activities and metrics.
Being fiduciary led: We’re focusing on fiduciary led engagement, which enables us to take clients on a journey by applying our professional judgement and skill. Our solutions need to enable appropriate advice outcomes.
Partnering: As the industry changes and institutions that have subsidised advice for a long time move out, those of us who remain each have a part to play to achieve a win-win for clients. Our focus is on partnering with like-minded firms that are culture-led and believe in providing quality advice to clients.
I’m looking forward to meeting and hearing from other like-minded planners at the 2019 Congress and seeing how together we can make a change to our profession for the better.
Paul Garner CFP®
Founder, Novo Wealth
Licensee: Futuro Financial Services
I’m looking to amalgamate/joint venture with other businesses in my licence group to amortise costs across more planners. I’m also looking to outsource more non-client work to free up time to spend with clients and prospects.
In addition, I am investigating further opportunities to automate and refine internal processes, to help make my practice more efficient. This includes rolling out and implementing a digital strategy to help attract more new clients to the business.
By attending the 2019 Congress, I am expecting to access to new ideas, systems, processes and inspiration to assist me with moving onto the next phase of professionalism and advancement within the financial planning profession.
I will also seek out ways that I can contribute to the advancement of our profession.
It’s a great question. It feels like we are doing many things to keep abreast of the latest changes, however, the highlights for me are:
We are starting to get a bit more strategic around the typesof clients we deal with and why. The costs that are facing the industry with increased compliance burdens, as well as the increased education requirements, are unfortunately starting to make advice inaccessible from a commercial standpoint.
We are looking closely at the education requirements and ensuring our planners have a clear plan. We are looking at potential areas of specialisation between planners to ensure we are still able to offer a comprehensive service effectively in the new environment.
In speaking to our ongoing clients, we are having open and frank discussions around the costs that the business is facing and our need to consider their fees moving Surprisingly, it’s a welcome conversation for clients, as some have expressed concern that we may not be around in the future! It’s an interesting perspective when clients would prefer to pay more to support the business.
I’m looking forward to Congress to reconnect with the great planners that I get to have engaging discussions with every year. I’d like to understand how we as a profession, plan to handle those clients at risk of being left behind.
There will be changes within the profession for planners, which we are all mostly familiar with, but the impact on low to middle-class clients concerns me. Has anyone cracked the code on how to deliver at that level? If you think you’re on to something and are attending – track me down and let me buy you a coffee!