Most financial planning business owners start out as experts in their field of financial planning. They are financial coaches to their clients first and foremost and have built serious businesses over time, putting their clients and staff first. Many of our clients who sought us out have built sizable client books with great client advocacy, their businesses have almost run themselves off the back of hard work and great staff.
In our current environment, getting referred to new clients has never been easier. The demand to see trusted financial advisers is high, but many advisers are struggling to service their volume of new clients. They have to prioritise their existing client obligations – and when coupled with increased regulation and paperwork, their waiting list for new clients grows, and so too their stress levels. Working 60 hour + weeks is no longer the exception, rather the rule. This is not news for those in this profession, nor is it news that compliance, paperwork, staff and general ‘busyness’ is at an all time high. This means the love of actually getting in front of clients and helping them has become stressful and importantly there is very little time for personal mental and physical well being. Too many advisers are stuck in the quandary of not having enough time to re-engineer their business to create time and peace back in their lives.
When financial planning principals come to us, they very often already know their challenges. They’ve been thinking for a while that they’d love to have someone in their corner, someone they can throw ideas around with and who will help them prioritise what to work on in those precious moments that they do get to work on and not in the business. Sometimes these challenges have reached boiling point and it’s triggered them to finally reach out. Other times they’ve reached a point where they want to capitalise on the opportunities that are in the market…it may be that they need to fix the engine room of their advice production, or improve their client onboarding process, tighten up their pricing or fix ongoing staffing challenges etc. Usually though, it’s not limited to one element, there’s a range of different things that have been bubbling away and they have finally reached a point of saying enough! Enough working 60 hour weeks, enough being reactive, enough stressing about compliance. They’ve decided it’s time to get an expert in to help prioritise what they’ll be working on in the business to get it ‘match fit’! Ready to leverage the opportunities that the next 5 years will bring……and maybe in that they’re also planning on selling, or planning on expanding. But how do they do it, how do they get their house in order for their next opportunity?
So when they do reach out, where do we start? As the saying goes…we start with the end in mind!
At Elixir we start with a thorough discovery process, akin to when an adviser starts working with a new client, we go through a fact finding exercise to understand what’s happening in their business, and how they arrived at their current state. Our many years of experience with hundreds of business owners means we’ve seen all types of businesses, all shapes and sizes, all unique in their own way, with one common theme; they want to improve their business for the benefit of their clients, their staff and their own personal wellbeing.
We start by understanding the vision of the business owner, both personal and business. Surprisingly, often this question of ‘what are you trying to build’ stumps advisers. Either they haven’t revisited that vision for a long time, or it’s just got lost in their drive to run a compliant business. Sometimes the vision is extracted at the discovery meeting, other times this becomes the first agenda item on a strategy day to help them get real clarity on what they’re trying to create in their life through their business.
We then work our way around the Elixir Business Success Wheel. We have determined that there are 16 elements of an advice business that will impact its success and we use this as a framework through which to analyse the business. So it could well be that they want to firm up the value that they’re providing to their clients to ensure that they continue to renew their annual service agreements. But in order to do that, they’ve actually got to take a step back. Be clear on the types of clients they are choosing to work with, then perhaps improve the technology used to deliver meaningful value in a profitable way, and that it is inextricably linked through to their pricing model and the way that they deliver their annual reviews to their clients. Ultimately, we help extract and define which of these elements require some work, and then build out the agenda for the strategy sessions. Time and again, our clients tell us that the very process of self-reflection and critical analysis of their business is tremendously helpful to them, even before we start into solution mode.There is a huge amount of power that comes from analysing the sheer size of problem – and we encourage anyone with a business challenge, whether they engage a coach or not – to start by really defining the issue at hand. Einstein is famously quoted as saying “If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on the solution, I would spend the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask… for once I know the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.”
Once we’ve completed the analysis, we run Strategy Sessions with the key business stakeholders, where we have their undivided attention to confront each of those agenda items and we map out a plan for what strategies they’ll take to achieve the outcomes they seek. It also includes the bigger context of mapping out their strategic plan for the next three to five years, and then their tactical business plan for the next 12 months, determining what projects will be completed by whom, within the business, to improve the elements that came up in the analysis. All with the ultimate aim of creating the business that they defined in their vision.
When we’ve first engaged a client, we’ve rarely put them straight on to an ongoing service agreement, because we really don’t know whether we can a) add value and b) what interventions or how much support they need. We’ll generally charge for the analysis and strategy work and then through those strategy days, together decide what the plan of attack is going to be, how the business plan will be implemented and what additional assistance they will require. Usually, that leads on to an ongoing coaching arrangement, where we regularly revisit the progress on the plans, keeping them accountable with the tactical decision making, helping them troubleshoot not only the projects as they work through them, but of course, additional items that come up throughout the year, as well as keeping one eye on the horizon of what they’re actually building.
Sometimes, our clients implement ideas that they’ve had floating around for years, that they’ve never got around to implementing either because they’ve been busy, or they didn’t know how. Throughout the journey, it could be assessing acquisition opportunities, it could be discussing succession, it could be staffing, it could be growth strategies, whatever comes up. Sometimes they get a whole new lease on life with ideas that they never would have been privy to, had it not been for our support.
Ultimately, every single one of our clients enjoys better outcomes from their business which interestingly, isn’t always limited to profit. It usually includes a mix of deeper client relationships, better client retention, better compliance, happier staff, happier business and life partners because the principals aren’t working excessive hours with as much stress as they came to us with.
Finally, on an annual basis we meet for a Refocus Day. It’s here we reflect on the year gone by, celebrate the wins and achievements and assess how much closer they are to their ultimate outcomes. We revisit the Business Success Wheel, reset goals and plan on what the next year and beyond looks like.
All this work is reflected and proudly confirmed by our net promoter score of 89. Just as we often help our clients survey their clients on a regular basis, we do this annually, using NPS, which is essentially asking how likely our clients are to recommend us to their peers, NPS rating is on a scale, not a percentage. Any NPS score above 0 is “good”. It means that the business’s customers are more loyal than not. Anything above 20 is considered “favourable”. Bain & Co, the source of the NPS system, suggests that above 50 is excellent, and above 80 is world class.
Our whole purpose at Elixir is to elevate the profession of advice by enabling and inspiring better financial advice businesses that achieve greater success for their clients and themselves.
Our client avatar at Elixir Consulting is generally Financial Planning businesses with between $1-$10 million turnover. There are some firms that either can’t afford or choose not to have a coach in their corner, but could still use some help and support. We have the Evolve Alliance portal available to those firms who still want to follow our philosophies and have access to our resources, but want to do it themselves. A good place to start is to understand the health of the 16 elements in your free business analysis.
Financial planning businesses are too important to leave to chance, getting help is beyond just ‘I’ve got a compliance person making sure my advice is compliant’. Reach out to someone who is experienced, qualified and understands your unique profession and the opportunities and limitations that lie within it. Someone you trust who will provide a non-judgemental sounding board to brainstorm ideas and provide the guidance and framework to broaden your business awareness. Of course every business is different, which is why you won’t get a cookie cutter approach at Elixir, our services are designed to help create outcomes linked to your business, to your vision.
Are you ready to evolve your advisory business but not quite sure of which step to take first? Book an obligation free appointment with an Elixir Consultant here, so we can find out more about your business and see how we can help