2023 looks set to be a tremendous year of opportunity in advice, so we’ve gathered the top seven elements that every advice firm should have in their planning for 2023, when they’re back on deck and ready to think about maximizing their success.
Every firm will have different priorities based on what’s happening in their own business, but every firm should have revenue and expense targets set so they can make conscious business decisions. These seven elements should be on everyone’s list to at least consider for 2023.
- Capacity planning
In a tight labour market where advisers are a scarce commodity, think creatively about how you can make long-term adjustments to your business model to lift the number of clients each adviser can serve. This can include altering your client engagement framework, adding outsourcing and/or adjusting the roles of existing support staff, leveraging technology, among other things. If you’ll need more advisers in the next three-to-five years to meet your business goals, start thinking now about how you’ll source them. Bring on a grad and leverage their talents as an associate while training them up?
- Fixing inefficiencies in your engine room
We’d advise against putting up with bottlenecks while awaiting the Quality of Advice Review results with bated breath. Whilst we’ll hopefully see some areas that you can cut back in your advice delivery chain, it will be well into 2023 before any amendments are signed off by parliament, and in the meantime, there are bound to be elements of your processes that you can refine. If your turnaround times have blown out and there’s no business systemisation in place, you’ll want to get your processes and procedures clearly documented and have an ethos of “one business, one way” in how things are done. You might be surprised how many ‘quick wins’ you can achieve by tweaking and improving habits when documenting your processes, and you’ll then have a much faster way of implementing further change when it happens. Consider how much time you can get back if you can find a way to shave even 15 minutes off your review process. That will save you at least half a week for every adviser on your team!
- Operational structure
While refining your procedures, it’s also a great time to ensure that you have the right structure to support the business now and to facilitate the growth you seek. We’ve seen numerous businesses that have been hamstrung by running operational silos which make it difficult to optimize resources and move work around the business based on capacity and capability.
- Client experience
Amidst a plethora of new client opportunities, how do you refine the way you engage your clients so you can convert your enquiries into clients for life? This should also flow onto how you deliver your ongoing services including how they’re priced. Given the fact that most of your first years’ ongoing or annual service agreements are up for renewal, you’ll want to track your numbers and be sure that you’re delivering a fantastic client experience that they’ll happily renew.
- Compliance checkup
Make sure that your files are in order and the right behaviours are embedded throughout the business. A lead indicator that every business should consider in the very least, is what you have on your breach register. The breach reporting regime has been in force for well over a year now, so if there’s nothing noted at all, that should be a red flag, unless you have an absolutely bulletproof way of vetting every file before advice is delivered to clients. While compliance should be a muscle flexed throughout the year and not just at annual planning time, a checkup can at least inform your training and development plans for the year.
- People and culture
A conscious focus on ensuring your business is a great place to work so you don’t lose valued people, and you can all enjoy life while helping your clients improve theirs.
- Economies of scale
How will you improve yours? If you’re struggling under the weight of compliance, process, client activity and you don’t have someone with the headspace to reimagine it all, that could be an indicator that it’s too hard to do it on your own. Many adviser firms are seeking ways to leverage scale, and this could include growing organically quickly, merging with another firm, selling to a larger firm, bringing in external equity and investing in acquiring more clients (especially if an adviser comes with them!). We’ve seen lots of merger and consolidation activity in the market and expect this to continue. All the options to obtain economies of scale require significant planning to achieve, and none should be completed on a whim.
Ready, set, go
You may find that you don’t need to adjust your plans in all of these areas, but in the very least, discuss them with your team and consider if your current activities are sufficient to build the sustainable future you seek.