Leda Financial Group’s Michael Ward shares five top tips he has learned as a practice owner when it comes to operating a successful and efficient business when you’re a self-employed adviser…

There are a range of aspects involved in running a successful financial advice practice and they span across matters that clients can see, as well as the things that lie beneath the surface.

With the COVID-19 pandemic impacting the importance that Australians place on being financially secure, it’s essential that advisers competently demonstrate their value and give their clients a promising and positive experience. This begins with running an efficient and effective front and back office, particularly in the current environment. Here are five tips that I would offer to self-employed advisers, helping them to run an efficient advice business.

Tip 1: Embracing technology will drive client experience

It’s no secret that the digital age has opened up opportunities across the financial services industry and also bolstered our ability as advisers to serve our clients. Rapidly changing technology is affecting what clients expect from advisers, but we need to remember that technology is our friend.

A TAL1 study found 37% of potential clients will check an adviser’s website, and a further 25% will do a broader google search before getting in contact. This goes to show technology has the power to strengthen client relationships and is an enabler to deliver meaningful advice. Websites allow for more interaction with people, and this makes it easier for advisers to achieve continual engagement and foster long-term relationships, leading to business growth.

Embracing various technology options such as phone calls, emails, and video conferencing allows for proactive client engagement, and this helps us to connect and communicate better. In addition, new technologies can help to drive increased efficiencies across functions in the back office, admin, monitoring, and reporting.

Tip 2: Embrace the work / life balance

Now is the time to take advantage of the flexibility that comes with being the boss. Self-employed advisers should work the hours they want and fit their work around their personal interests and responsibilities.

But while self-employed advisers have greater autonomy and flexibility than their employees, it’s not uncommon to lack the structure and support of bigger businesses. We know that we’re more productive when given the flexibility to achieve work and personal commitments as it enables us to maintain our wellbeing.

Establishing routines is one way to avoid feeling stressed and it will ultimately help business owners work to the best of their abilities, thrive in their careers, and lead their team towards success.

Tip 3: Communicate clearly and regularly

Clients are our biggest assets and effective client communication can drive business growth. Exhibiting excellent communications skills will enable you to develop a thorough understanding of clients’ financial, emotional, mental, and physical situation. This is crucial to being able to express empathy. Failing to pay attention to all aspects of a client’s financial wellness can leave them susceptible to going elsewhere for financial advice, and it can challenge your ability to meet your best interests obligation.

It’s incredibly important for you to regularly reach out to both existing and potential clients to share information or even just to touch base. This is an invaluable way to build rapport. I’ve found that telling stories and past experiences is a good way to educate and inform clients.

To deliver the best quality advice to your clients and enjoy long-lasting relationships, it’s essential you conduct your processes and communications in a way that engenders trust and understanding.

Tip 4: Collaboration is key

Working closely and tapping into the expertise of other advisers in the industry can help you gain knowledge and provide a framework for business growth. Advisers who understand that successful collaboration in the workplace isn’t just good for employees, it’s beneficial for clients and the bottom line, are the ones who will continue to grow and thrive.

Collaboration also involves staying up to date with the latest industry news and education requirements. The TAL Risk Academy is a good way to broaden your skill base and uplift personal and professional knowledge.

When advisers collaborate beyond their team, they are given the opportunity to learn new things from others and this contributes to both professional and personal development.

Tip 5: Remember outsourcing isn’t a sign of weakness

For me personally, I find outsourcing critical for three reasons. Firstly, it increases business efficiency as sharing the workload helps business leaders to free up their teams to focus on revenue -generating work. Secondly, with your team focusing on what they were hired to do rather than admin tasks, you can expect a shift in employee satisfaction which helps people perform their roles to the best of their ability. Lastly, hiring an offshore team member to provide additional support can help to control costs.

As self-employed advisers, we need to consider the role for outsourcing in enabling us to work ‘on’ our business. It can be the right solution in many instances to increase business efficiencies as outside professionals can complement internal team skills to deliver promising solutions for clients.

As financial advisers, we have a crucial role in providing quality advice to Australians. By improving your efficiencies in the advice process, you can remain well-equipped to continue serving your clients’ needs.

1 Quantitative research conducted by Zing! Insights on behalf of TAL – March 2018

Michael Ward is Managing Director & Principal Adviser Leda Financial Advice Ltd….

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