We are at a point in history where the changing needs and desires of consumers, the evolution of technology and increasing intervention from government are converging on the advice profession to force significant change. While an adviser may have been able to ignore (or simply miss) the changing needs of potential clients, and remained naive to the impact of changes in technology, the new adviser education standards and changes in the Life Insurance Framework will significantly impact most business owners. They now have to act – if they don’t they may no longer be licensed, or may simply go out of business when their cashflow takes a significant hit.
“Oh great”, I hear you say – “yet another article trying to scare me about robo-advice, insurance commissions, my relevance in a changing world etc”. Well don’t worry – I know you get enough of that elsewhere. No, I want to give you some thoughts on how to get through it. I have the great pleasure of attending many conferences, and whenever possible I like to attend sessions delivered by other speakers, and spend time chatting with advisers between sessions. I have recognised a trend in the themes and agendas over this past and upcoming year. I’m seeing a focus on ideas for advice firms of tomorrow, handling change, embracing the future, fighting through adversity and challenge, and getting your mindset right.
Which is just as well, given the level of anxiety and concern that we’re seeing in business owners and advisers right now. There are many who are grabbing this opportunity with both hands and getting excited by what the future holds, but sadly, a great deal who are really challenged by what the future of advice holds, and whether they have a place in it. I’d like to spend some time with this article to reflect on an aspect that’s often underrated. There are most certainly some technical and structural changes required by most advice businesses to achieve a sustainable future, and without a doubt, the most important, the one element that will have the greatest return, have the biggest impact on the success of the transition; will be the mindset of the business owner and the advisers delivering the services.
Who are you listening to?
See, the problem with staying in your own headspace and only hanging out with like-minded people is that you don’t get to see a different picture. Think about the people you spend time with – do any of them challenge you on the way you think, or do they all do things similarly and join you with lamenting that these changes will be the end of the independent adviser? Is it time you broaden your circle of influence and allow yourself to be influenced by new thinking?
I love this picture. I can imagine the owner of that barrow thinking that he was innovating his business by putting on another worker to help push the barrow. He may have increased the speed in which the barrow moved by 35% and felt that was a great decision. He may have even looked at the round wheel and dismissed it with the view that his current process wasn’t broken, that the round wheel was less stable than the square, and that all the other blokes pushing barrows nearby are using the square wheel etc. With hindsight and a larger frame of reference we can see that if only he lifted his head a bit further than just above his barrow, he might have seen that there was indeed a better way. That by adding a brake and whatever other engineering genius was required, that round wheel would in fact have achieved speeds that he thought impossible – with a fraction of the manpower cost and strain. Rather than simply focusing on the outcome he wanted – make it easier to push the barrow faster, if he were open to thinking perhaps there was a better way to achieve his outcome altogether, he might have been able to grasp what was right in front of him all along.
From the years of experience working with business owners, and from running a business myself in a particularly difficult market, I know how confronting it can be.
Running a business is challenging. Wanting to evolve that business and keep achieving great results can be overwhelming. As your mind expands to new ways of thinking it also realises how much you don’t know – what if you make this decision today only to find you’re still three steps behind? Your head starts to swirl with all of the possibilities and the unknowns, and before you know it, you’re feeling anxious, nervous, even angry – and while your heart and head are in those places, it’s very difficult to envoke rational thought to work out your plan of what to do, and even harder to then start implementing the ‘stuff’ you need to do to improve your business.
A better way to get your head right.
If you just do what you’re forced to do, you might just start pushing harder on a square wheel. Rather than just think about how to fit in extra studies, or how to manage with lower commissions, take a step further back and really consider what these changes mean. Consider what else you’re doing in your business that may be refined. Discover more about what innovations are available to you, what others are doing in their business, and how you might embrace some of these ideas in your own business.
- That might mean attending an independent conference with speakers and delegates outside your usual circle of influence.
- It might mean taking a day away from the office to get some clear headspace to consider what’s not working for you right now.
- Perhaps even taking some of your own advice – sitting with your partner (in life, not just business) and reflecting on what’s REALLY important to you both, and considering if your current habits and modus operandi really serve you
The key is to focus on what you can control, to make measured decisions and actually action them, and sooner or later you’ll find yourself in an effortless state of continual improvement.
It’s worth noting here, that a funny thing happens to a lot of our clients (and others we speak to)…when they make big decisions about changing a fundamental aspect of their business – say, the portfolio management strategy they use, or their pricing model, etc. “What will my clients think when I make this change – am I saying that I’ve been doing it badly/wrong up until now?” It’s a very natural thought to have, and when they process the thought, they realise that their clients actually expect it of them. They pay their adviser because they are on top of their game – they know more about the evolving financial landscape and how to manage their finances than they themselves do. While they’re busy running their household or their business, living their life and focusing on what they’re good at, they expect that the people they outsource their financial security to, will be aware of advancements, innovations, etc. They have an expectation that they won’t jump at the latest fad, but they will take a measured approach to innovation, and where a better wheel comes along, they will use it.
Be smart about it….do it efficiently – odds are you’re going to still need to see clients and keep working in your business while you do the renovation. And also recognise that it’s important to take the time you need to get your head committed to the process. Once you’ve made the decision that you’re ready to move forward, waste no time in seeking out the right counsel and following the best process to analyse what you’re currently doing in order to do it better. Reach out to someone you can trust who can bring you a different lens to view your business through, and perhaps ideas and experiences you’re not otherwise privy to.
You might be pleasantly surprised by how powerful it is to come back to your true purpose – what’s really important to you. To get your head in the right place – spending time reading, listening to and following suggestions from those who may have a different reality to you. The irony is we often feel too busy to take the time to do this, and yet the effect it will have on your mindset and sense of wellbeing, let alone your bottom line is far better than finding an extra eight hours in the week!
If you’d like to chat to one our awesome team, we’re always happy to help, just shoot us an email to [email protected].
If you’re an adviser in Perth you have a brilliant opportunity right now to get a host of new ideas at the IFA Business Strategy Day on the 12th of May. Click here for more details.
And if you’ve already collected ideas, but it’s now time to knuckle down and determine your plan of action, using our Juice Console might help you get the most return on your investment in time.
With over 15 years’ experience in financial services, with roles spanning banking, funds management, advice and licensee services, Sue has built her career and her business on helping financial advisers, accountants and risk specialists to improve the way that they run their businesses and deliver advice.