Take Control of Your Business

These two articles reflect on what it takes to successfully operate an advice business against a backdrop of an ever-changing business and regulatory environment marred by the shadow of covid-19’s effect on the industry and concerned consumers…

 

Managing the 5Rs of Business

Melbourne adviser and Principal of Australian Wealth Solutions, Sam Zervides, outlines what he considers to be the five Rs in business and how successfully managing these critical factors will be the key to future success.

 

Far too many accountants and financial planners have entered the new decade failing to recognise and appreciate that the future of their advisory businesses is dependent on how well they manage and navigate the Five Rs:

  • Risk
  • Renewal
  • Regulation
  • Relationships
  • Reputation

For those that failed to master them effectively, the ramifications have been devastating.

Not enough advisory businesses took the time in past years to scan the horizon and acknowledge not only the looming storm clouds – but emerging trends and opportunities that could enhance and improve their businesses i.e. the Five Rs.

Firstly, managing the Five Rs is not a task that can be delegated to the EA or underutilised clerk. It demands the principal’s leadership, coordination and management as no one understands and appreciates a business better than its owner.

Risk

Accounting and financial planning advisory businesses operate under a cloud of internal and external challenges that include increasing costs, downward pressure on margins, attracting and retaining staff, constant legislation/regulatory changes and heightened client expectations.
Those businesses that stood still and failed to adapt found themselves swimming against a tsunami of challenges that drowned their operations.

Renewal

Among the carnage, there were also those that chose to renew and reinvent themselves and their businesses. These businesses seized the opportunity to explore new markets, harness alliances and implement operational efficiencies, pricing / service models relevant to the needs of the modern-day client.

Regulation

Constant regulatory changes and resultant compliance demands have become a key function and cornerstone for businesses. The overwhelming need to get it right are enormous, with the variety and complexity of regulations, directives, and laws shaping an advisory business’s everyday internal and external operations.

Because compliance violations can quickly lead to penalties, reputational damage, or even media coverage, there is a lot at stake.
With regulations only becoming more numerous and tighter, advice businesses need to plan longer-term strategies in order to deal with regulatory agendas.

Relationships

The best practitioners have treated and leveraged all their relationships as strategic assets.

The building blocks of any successful business relationship are the same as a personal relationship: respect, commitment, and trust. Once established, the relationship transcends into clients being ambassadors for the business measured in referrals, testimonials and profits.

Reputation

Business reputation is more important than ever. Although positive reputations are created over time from many interpersonal actions, negative reputations can result from a single action with catastrophic consequences.

The best advice businesses understand the link between building a great reputation and the client experience. Every touch point reaffirms and reassures the client that the practice values them as a client and is dedicated to their financial well-being and attainment of their wealth creation goals.

Recently, the power of Australian Wealth Solution’s (AWS) reputation was demonstrated to me by the addition of Robert Taylor to our team.
It came about as the result of a combination of industry contacts referring Robert to AWS when his university lecturer Peter Moran sought an employment opportunity for his student. Without hesitation, AWS was regarded as the employer of choice for the new industry entrant.

As advice businesses grapple with the new decade and beyond, it’s clear a more strategic approach that embraces the Five Rs is needed. By doing so, it demonstrates the creation of value for clients; acts as beacon to attract highly talented, motivated employees; and positions the business for long-term growth and financial success.

Sam Zervides is Principal – Australian Wealth Solutions and Victorian President – Institute of
Issued by Australian Wealth Solutions.

 

Reassure Clients by Dealing with the Now and Preparing for the Future

Industry PR and marketing expert, Joe Perri, reflects on the critical importance for advisers and advice businesses to steadfastly maintain their focus on the fundamentals associated with serving their clients’ needs and placating their fears amid the medical and economic turmoil presently engulfing the world…

 

Although many professional advisory businesses are facing a tsunami of unprecedented challenges as a result of the economic impact of the coronavirus, it’s imperative not to lose sight of the fundamentals that begin with reassuring clients.

As usual in situations such as this, accountants, financial planners and legal firms find themselves dealing with a deluge of anxious clients when share markets plummet, businesses are forced to close and employment is lost as the economy falters in response to the virus and government action.

Panic and fear are natural human reactions in these situations and the first anxious calls are invariably to advice practitioners seeking solace, reassurance and an understanding of current events. In good times clients need their professional service providers to guide and assist them to achieve their desired financial, business, retirement, wealth creation or lifestyle goals. But it’s in troubled times, such as the present, that clients become fearful and need reassurance – which is why the relationship so important.

The personal touch

As the seriousness and gravity of the health and economic impact of the coronavirus began to be realized, many organisations reverted to bulk emails as a means of communicating operational, administrative and general information quickly to clients.

As effective as this modern-day medium is in situations such as this, nothing beats the impact of a phone call and reassuring chat in times of unprecedented concern.

Technology is, and will always be, well placed to communicate a ‘hygiene’ message quickly to a broad audience, but it cannot convey empathy and care of the trusted adviser’s voice or key contact within the business.

In normal times, and for a multitude of reasons, many advice and service professionals gradually lose sight of the noble reasons that guided them into an advisory business in the first place. Impersonal email broadcasts and non-descript newsletters become the ‘go-to’ communication mediums for the months in between the annual reviews.

A crisis such as a severe economic downturn, natural disaster or the current coronavirus serves as an important reminder that clients are at the centre, focus and purpose of all activities – and the communication process has an important and crucial role to play.

First make sure your own house is in order

But before articulating any messages to clients, stakeholders or suppliers in the current environment, the first priority is to secure the financial health and operational framework of the adviser’s own business and ensure it is functioning effectively in the ‘new norm’.

In responding to the health and administrative challenges of the coronavirus, the insightful advice practices have fast tracked new operational models that facilitate off-site workplaces and adoption / application of new best-of-breed technologies and cloud-based strategies.

Although a burden initially, the benefit of these Initiatives will be ongoing well after the effects of the coronavirus have passed.

With respect to client communication during this period, the message and content must position the adviser as a beacon of calm in this troubled sea – communicating and interpreting in a compliant manner the latest government announcement regarding taxation or stimulus packages to which they may be entitled.

Most importantly, only communicate when there is something to say – quality trumps quantity.

Take the time to walk in your clients’ footsteps

Furthermore, each client sees the world and situation from a perspective that matters to them as individuals. So, when crafting any narrative or message to clients, the advisory business owner needs to step outside of themselves and see things through the eyes of the recipient.
Although inundated with tasks and intense pressures at present, the importance of client communication demands time be set aside for this function.

Finally, there’s no doubt that the financial impact of the coronavirus will result in many businesses reopening in financial distress once the green light to do so is given. Tragically others won’t be able to reopen at all.

However, history has repeatedly demonstrated that there are businesses that thrive and grow in uncertain and troubled times. For them, the end of the coronavirus crisis will be a new beginning for their enterprises.

Good, effective communication in these challenging periods is invariably rewarded with strengthened relationships and heightened business reputations and brands elevated by the word of mouth endorsement and promotion of appreciative clients.

Issued by Joe Perri & Associates.

 

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