Recruiting the next generation
Recruiting the next generation
While some advice practices are operating at their highest levels, most could afford to streamline, tighten up and reinvent.
What does it mean for a practice to be at the top of its game? Rubik Financial believes it has an answer.
The technology provider partnered with practice management group Business Health to produce the Future Ready VI Report (Future Ready), which measures the advice industry against benchmarks for 'healthy' practices.
For the 2014 edition, the authors drew on data from 328 firms that have used the Business HealthCheck service since December 2012. In addition, the report uses results of Business Health's CATScan client satisfaction survey to provide insight into client attitudes.
Whether your practice is a bit out of shape or in peak condition, using the Future Ready benchmarks can help you identify areas for improvement.
Although a high number of practices are operating smoothly, some are left vulnerable to future crises.
In certain areas, practices have shown improvement but could use a tune-up.
Client reviews are a chance to prove your value to the client year after year.
But just 77 per cent of practices conduct comprehensive reviews, covering all relevant issues.
Even then, clients may not be walking away satisfied. CATscan results suggest reviews are the "worst performing area of their adviser's service," according to the report.
Business planning is also an area that could use attention. All up, 42 per cent of principals have a documented three- to five-year plan in place.
A further 42 per cent have a business plan in the principal's head or partially recorded.
These practices could see a bump in profits if they put that plan on paper - the profit per principal for practices with partially recorded plans was $225,292, versus $305,478 for those with documented and implemented strategies.
In terms of people management, principals could do more to support their staff.
Around 58 per cent of practices provide individual performance objectives for the next 12 months, and 59 per cent have given their staff a review in the past half year.
This leaves a significant number of employees with no formal feedback or goals to work towards.
Clean bill of health
On a positive note, the advice industry has significantly improved in some aspects.
Practices have wholeheartedly embraced the digital age, with over two-thirds providing staff with remote access to their work materials and 9 out of 10 making all business data readily accessible on a network.
Advisers are also feeling good about the quality of their work, despite a changing regulatory landscape.
Over 90 per cent of practices report feeling confident their advice was provided on a reasonable basis and 88 per cent were confident they had the right disclosures.
The report found the industry was improving, with 62 per cent of practices classified as "fit" compared to 24 per cent in 2012.
But, businesses with good fundamentals may still face challenges.
While the report's benchmarks are not a cure-all, working towards improvements could immunise your practice.
The need for the next generation
People close to retirement naturally worry more about their finances than those starting out, meaning advice clients tend to skew older. However, the Future Ready research suggests this trend is careening out of control.
The CATscan survey identified 44 per cent of advisers clients are already retired and 53 per cent are aged over 60. As these clients age, advisers may see their client books shrinking.
"Clearly new clients are needed now by most Australian practices to compensate for the potential impact of this client transition," the report states.
Yet practices are unlikely to attract new business with their current marketing efforts, Future Ready warns.
Principals report spending on average less than 1.5 per cent of total revenue on marketing.
In all, 20 per cent of practices don't have a website and 46 per cent have no social media presence.
Many practices are taking a blind approach to their promotion efforts, with two-thirds having no clearly defined and documented marketing plan for the next 12 months.
Advisers are also struggling to give clients what they want - mainly personalised, relevant attention.
Just 43 per cent contact their A-level clients more than 10 times a year while around 16 per cent of practices make contact less than five times a year.
Many practices are also failing to seek out opinions from their clients, with just 30 per cent taking a structured approach to client feedback.
Yet seeking feedback can have a correlation with practice profit.
In practices that have no process in place, the average profit per principal was $181,468; where feedback was actively sought, profit per principal jumped to $382,968 - a difference of 111 per cent.
If advisers fail to account for these two crucial elements, they may find their business flat lining in coming years.
Stefanie Garber is a journalist at Sterling Publishing.
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