Of the many questions we are asked by financial advisers, these are on the “most repeated” list:
How can I ensure that all of my clients enjoy a consistent level of service from my firm?
How do I get my clients to refer new clients to me? How do I maximize the value of my practice when it comes time to sell?
How can I go on holidays and be comfortable in the knowledge that my clients will be serviced well in my absence?
How do I ensure that induction of new staff happens smoothly?
Nearly every post on this blog provides information that will help answer one or more of these questions, and in some way, part of the answer to all of these questions is one word – Process, Process, Process!
You need to ensure that your practice operates at peak levels of efficiency and every task or procedure in the business is performed the same way every time, allowing for new staff to be introduced without interrupting service levels to clients, and that what you say you can deliver to your clients is, in fact, delivered – on time, every time.
Unfortunately, the creation of a procedures manual is not high on the list of things that advisers want to, have time to, or are good at, creating.
The key to building a quality, profitable business is to ensure that every contact your client has with your firm is a great one. The only way to ensure this happens is to systemise the processes for every client interaction.
A key to remember when creating your systems and processes is to run your practice like a business. Whilst this may sound obvious to some, many practices are still reliant upon individual advisers to create the relationships with clients.
Whilst it is true that a client will do business with the firm because of their comfort and trust with the individual they deal with, the service models adopted by the business should involve interaction with other staff and the fact that advice and service is delivered by the firm (not the individual) should be clearly verbalised and demonstrated to the client. They should have the clear impression that their services are provided by a team of experts – their relationship is with the practice, not the adviser.
Not only does this remove the key reliance on individuals (handy when staff or directors move on) but it also results in clients feeling comfortable to have their queries answered (where possible) by other staff if their adviser is busy. If these queries can be handled by a staff member on a lower hourly rate, all the better for the practice.
Need another reason? Research has shown that when it comes time to sell your business, those businesses that are a “turn key” operation with proven processes that are documented and automated can demand a premium price.
Once you have documented your processes, the next step on the path to best practice is to utilise a workflow management system that will allow you to set and track tasks within the business. At any given time, a practice with one financial adviser would be managing around 60–80 tasks for their clients.
The best way to effectively ensure these tasks are done by the right staff in the right priority, without any falling through the cracks, is to use a technology system that manages these tasks. There are a number of different systems available to advisers today – but the key to making any of them work is the same – you need to break down every task in your business and document how its is to be performed. Do it once – and then the process is “switched on” for every client as it is needed.