A new year, a new decade. Most advisers are pretty much flat out, looking after your clients and building a better and more durable business. Growing your business remains front and centre for most of you, so here are five high-level areas that can help you achieve your growth goals. While some of the thoughts are not new, hopefully this piece will act as a reminder of areas that you just should never ignore.
1. Attract more customers
This is of course the most obvious way to grow, but often the most difficult as it is influenced by many moving parts; your own activity levels, the quality of your advice proposition and the number of referrals you get from satisfied customers, the consistency and quality of your ongoing client engagement processes, your networking and other client acquisition methods and all of your marketing activities. Having a loyal band of potential introducers (accountants etc.) is a crucial client acquisition element for many successful advisers.
Getting more customers is usually the sum of many activities. If I was pushed and had to pick one that we all can be guilty of not doing enough of? That would be to get out of your office and meet more people. Spending more face-to-face time with prospects and potential clients almost always results in greater numbers of new customers.
2. Review your proposition
Getting more customers is great. However this also creates new challenges in terms of minding these customers into the future. What if you could earn more ongoing income without increasing your customer numbers?
This is where your proposition comes in. There is huge benefit in regularly and critically evaluating your advice proposition. Is it strong enough? Are there more valuable services that you could offer, which would allow you charge more? Or are you delivering the right services to your customers, but they are simply not aware of them as a result of poor communication by you? If you can improve your proposition and your clients’ knowledge and engagement with it, can you charge more and comfortably justify doing so?
I suggest you take some time out to review your proposition and how you are communicating it. You may be pleasantly surprised when you actually visualise the depth of services that you offer and the value that you are adding.
3. Attract more assets
Financial advisers often tell me of the frustrating situation in which they are only managing a portion of a client’s assets. I just don’t really get this one to be honest… Yes I can understand that a client may think they are better off having a few advisers and not having all of their eggs in one basket. However, isn’t it the adviser’s job to manage the diversification challenge on behalf of the client?
This situation sometimes arises as a result of an adviser being happy to simply get a new client on board, even when they are only getting a portion of the client’s overall assets. But how can you advise the client properly when you are only partially informed? Surely this situation will result in a completely misaligned portfolio? And if you carry out future cashflow planning, this is rendered pretty meaningless if you don’t have full visibility. Even if you don’t manage the assets, you need full information about them.
Work on your script with clients where you know or suspect you are only advising on a portion of their assets. Your client needs to be crystal clear about the disadvantages of you not having full visibility of all assets.
4. Cross-selling opportunities are important for you and your clients
Sometimes it’s easier for an adviser to position himself or herself as an investment specialist or a retirement practitioner. But then sometimes as a result, the adviser can be reluctant to step outside of his or her specialist knowledge zone and advise in other important areas such as protection etc.
Yes of course you need to be confident in your capability to provide excellent advice in these other areas, but this is not really a stretch for many advisers. And it does not undermine your positioning as an expert in your main area of specialisation. Clients should expect and will be grateful that you are watching their back in these other critically important areas too.
5. Increase your rates
When did you last actually review your advice rates? I see enormous disparity between rates charged (particularly ongoing trail) by different advisers, often when there is little or no difference in their propositions.
Sometimes it’s a case of one adviser having set their rates ten years ago when the country was on it’s knees and not having revised these rates since then, while the other adviser set their rates in recent years when the economy was on a steady growth path. So is it time for you to look again at those rates you are charging – are you selling yourself short for the value that you’re delivering? This starts back though with your proposition – is this good enough to justify higher levels of trail?
These are just a few ways in which you can look to increase your income in 2020. The next step is to do some more detailed planning around each of them. The very best of luck.