It’s fair to say that 2018 may have been one of the most challenging and unsettling periods in advice in the past 30 years. Sure, advisers are accustomed to change, in fact it’s often said that the constant tinkering in superannuation and other legislation has contributed to the very existence of financial planning. The difficulty lies in changes being mooted that will impact the vast majority of advisers without clarity and detail, so the fear of the unknown makes it more difficult to accept change and move forward. When all of this is played out against a backdrop of the very public royal commission revealing systemic and alarming stories of misconduct, it’s hardly surprising that many advisers are happy to put 2018 behind them.
“It was the best of times…”
As I speak with advisers from different businesses all over the country, I’m hearing excited optimism from some, who cite the statistics from value of advice research and have no shortage of new client enquiries from people looking for impartial advice from excellent advisers who will help them make better decisions about their money and stand them in great stead for a bright future. They look forward to adding some study to their knowledge base and working in a profession where they can do what they love, where demand will likely outstrip supply for great advisers.
“It was the worst of times …”
And yet from others, I’m hearing anxiety and uncertainty that is manifesting as stress, ill health, anger, and disillusionment. A significant number of advisers are feeling ‘stuck’, not knowing what their future holds, what their business will look like in the next five years, and whether in fact they’ll still have a business of any value – and this is affecting those who have built businesses over 30 years, to those still in start-up phase.
If you’re in the ‘worst of times’ camp – or feeling even a little bit stuck, I have outlined here, some very pragmatic, clear steps that you can take to get ‘unstuck’; to regain some control, clarity and hope for the future. I’ve also got some very cool things up my sleeve that you can pop your hand up to be the first to hear about by clicking here.
We are going through a paradigm shift, and it feels tough right now. What is needed for you to move forward is to adopt a CEO – or an entrepreneur’s mindset. The adviser’s mindset alone will not serve you right now – tap into the emotional intelligence and the passion for your clients that makes you a great adviser but think like a CEO in order to make the right decisions from here.
Step One – Start with acknowledging a few things.
When faced with such difficult market conditions, the first thing to acknowledge is an undeniable truth – you cannot control all of the decisions that will be made that will impact your business. As a business owner, you’ve always known this – and yet when changes occur that are so significant that they might stop you from doing what you’ve always done, it’s difficult to maintain perspective.
So in order to reduce that disillusionment and to once again feel empowered, there is one thing to accept. You cannot change FASEA, the Royal Commission findings, the impact on valuations, tighter compliance requirements… BUT, you can change how you view and deal with these things – the lens through which you see them and the decisions you make to address them. The truth is, you always have a choice – and I guarantee that choosing to acknowledge these facts and moving forward in some way feels a lot better than choosing the victim mindset and staying in the ‘lamenting and waiting’ phase.
You can make your own decisions, and that’s how you get your power back. It starts with you taking some action. Any action, no matter how small, will feel better than spinning your wheels and agitating over the negative aspects of what’s going on around you.
“Accept what is, let go of what was, and have faith in what will be”
Step Two – Take care of yourself
At risk of stating the obvious, you are not defined by your business, so don’t allow your business to consume you. From a personal perspective do whatever you can for your own mental health – take care of yourself physically (exercise, good nutrition) and mentally – spend quality time with those you love and schedule in time to do things that bring you joy. Intentionally making time for things and people that make you happy will work wonders to help keep things in perspective.
If you’re finding you’re struggling to adapt to see the current environment as anything other than a personal attack and you can’t find that new lens, reach out to a therapist, someone who is trained to help people with their thoughts and emotional health. If things are really difficult for you, and you’re feeling overwhelmed, you can get confidential support 24 hours a day from Lifeline, or if you’re an AFA member, AFA Care. You are most definitely not alone.
“Secure your own oxygen mask before helping others”
-Every flight that ever leaves the ground-
Step Three – Ask yourself the big questions
Before you start assessing your options in great detail – go back to the root core of why you do what you do; step away from the noise and drill right back to your VISION for your business and your career. I don’t mean to think about what were your plans…your plans may have been ‘cut back to part-time at age x’….but your vision may have been to ‘build a business that changes the lives of 500 families’, or ‘build a business that delivers outstanding client service, where I can take 6 months off with no impact to our clients or our profits’, perhaps it was simply ‘build an asset worth $x’. You may even find that you’ve already achieved your vision but your plans are changing, or that you’re not there yet, and your passion to reach it has waned.
- What am I trying to build? (or have I already built what I set out to?)
- Why do I do what I do?
- Am I still passionate and energised about doing what I do – enough so to achieve my vision?
Get to the root core of these fundamental questions, and you will find it easier to take the next step…
Step Four: Staying or going?
The ultimate question… and one that, when answered, will lift a weight off your shoulders. Both options are equally valid and viable, depending on your current situation. Decide on your answer, and now you have some direction – you’re taking your power back and moving forward – on your own terms. Granted, within the parameters of the changed environment, but on your own terms nonetheless.
This is where your paths split…
If your choice is to go, consider whether you’re better to make arrangements to capitalise on the current value of your business as it stands now, or if you’d like to do some ‘renovations’ before putting it on the market. Sometimes it’s hard to let go, especially if it’s not at the exact time you’d planned, but sometimes it’s the best move, and having the courage and the honest self-assessment to see that will help you both financially and mentally. Don’t waste time and energy comparing what you would have sold it for two years ago. It is what it is.
If your choice is to sell now, get the ball rolling by speaking with your licensee and/or a business broker you trust. While taking their advice on what to do next, start thinking about what’s next for you personally, be that retirement or a new phase of your career, and throw yourself into planning and implementing this next stage in your life.
If you decide to renovate first before selling, your next step is the same as that if you decide to stay.
Step Five: Analyse your business in its current state
Think strategically about all the issues facing your business at the moment to get really clear on what your business looks like now, in light of these challenges, and identify the priority areas on which you need to work. If you’re wanting to ‘tidy it up’ before selling it, you have no time to waste. If you need to do some study over the coming years, and you’re already struggling to find any spare time – it’s critical that you get your business running more effectively so that you can find more time while generating the profits you need.
Yes, it is actually that simple. Unless you have continually improved your business every year, to take advantage of changes in technology and implemented ‘best practice’ ideas from around the world, I guarantee you that you will be able to find more time, but it requires doing things differently.
Once you’re clear on what areas of your business require some work, you can start determining the strategies you can implement to improve these areas.
Step Six: Write, then action your Business Plan
It’s no secret that advisers are typically bad at documenting an effective business plan, and yet there is undeniable proof that those who do achieve greater profits and business success, and there’s never been a time that this has been more important. Sure, having no business plan has worked for many businesses, when they’ve been able to just continue writing business and servicing their clients the way they have always done. But this way of building a business just won’t cut it in the future.
You need to be efficient, to design and enhance your client experience, to deliver a better value proposition than just ‘risk and super’, to build processes that tick all your compliance boxes, to have an effective pricing model… the list goes on. None of those things ‘just happen’, you now need to run your business by design, and it’s important to decide on what actions will be most successful in your business, and get on with it.
If you’re not entirely clear on how to write your business plan – one specific for an advice business – we’ve got some great resources to help. In a nutshell, I’m not talking about a lengthy tome that ends up gathering dust…. I’m talking about getting tactical with what you can achieve within the next 12 months and capturing that on a single page, and being clever about the strategies you choose to employ.
Once your vision is clear, you’ve identified what you need to work on to achieve that vision, get tactical about what you will implement in the coming year to maintain and grow the value of your business. Reflect back on this every month, tweak it as you need to, and check in to see what you achieved at the end of the year – then redesign the plan for the following year.
“Change is hard at the beginning, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end.”
While I can’t promise that 2019 is going to be a lot easier, I can promise that we will be upping our support to help you reinvent your business to thrive in the new landscape of advice. We’ll be launching two exciting new programs AND delivering a number of free training webinars to help you do what I’ve been talking about in this article.
If you’d like to go on our priority list to make sure that you hear about the release dates before anyone else, click here to let us know.