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Practice Management

Reinventing Your Business

Anyone who has built a booming business will likely tell you that at some time or another, they had to reinvent that business.

Ask any colleague who has built a booming business and he or she will tell you that at some time or another, maybe more than once, they’ve had to reinvent their business. If you probe further, you’ll find that they made that decision for one or more of the following reasons:

  • They hit a plateau in production and felt it was important to do something different in order to move to the next level,
  • They’d come to believe there was a better or more efficient way they could serve their clients. This was especially true when advisors began offering financial planning and when advisor moved from a transactional to fee based business, or
  • After working in the business for a while they found they had built an expertise and reputation as the “go to” advisor to solve a specific client need, or they’d discovered that working with a certain type of client was more fulfilling that working with others.

These days there’s another reason, more immediate, externally generated reason to consider reinvention – the business has changed dramatically and it may be the first time in your career that you will need to change your approach.

At one time, financial advisors controlled all things investment. To access individual company research reports, trade stocks, and buy mutual funds, an investor had to work with an advisor. Any person who wanted to invest worked with an advisor. Then things changed. First, investors gained access to company research, soon, online capabilities took away the advisor’s most valuable advantage, giving everyone the ability to buy and sell stocks, bonds and mutual funds. Now it’s possible for your clients to get all of their financial planning and investment management needs met without your involvement.

As investors begin to realize that many of the services they pay you for have become commodities, they ask you to reduce the fees you charge them. When that happens your revenue will decline, forcing you to increase your client base, increase your AUM, or find other ways to generate revenue.

Before that happens, reinvent your practice, change the way you position your business, revisit the type of client you serve, and rethink the services you provide. If you’ve done business the same way for a number of years, the thought of changing may seem daunting. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be an enormous undertaking, if you breakdown the process in the following way:

  • First, develop a vision of the way you want your practice to look in 3-5 years by answering questions like these: What do you think the biggest changes will be in your business in the next 3-5 years? Who is your market? Do you see yourself focusing on a specific niche? What do you want your practice/team to be known for? What functions will be needed and what responsibilities will each of your team members have? Related to the functions you’ll need, how many financial advisors and support staff will you need? Will your new practice require team members to have any specific expertise and/or industry designations? How many clients will you have? What do those clients have in common? How much money do you have under management? What services will you offer to diversify and broaden your sources of revenue? How much money are you making each year? Where is your office located, is it easily accessible?
  • Second, create a gap analysis by comparing your vision of your future business to your current business. The differences between your vision and today’s reality represent the changes you have to make in order to achieve your goal.
  • Third, create a matrix that lists the gaps (your “to do” list). Then, prioritize the gaps by identifying which ones have to be completed as “now” (within a month), “soon” (within 3-6 months), and “later” (within a year). Your goal is to fill the gaps between your vision and the current reality as quickly as possible.
  • Finally, assign the “to dos” to members of your team and have regular meetings to discuss the progress that’s being made to close each of the gaps.

If you’re like most advisors, you’ll probably find that without even knowing it, you’ve been moving in the direction of building the business you envision, as though subconsciously you’ve known something needed to change. Trust your instincts, you’ve been right, something needs to change.

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