With disruption comes opportunity

Advisers are facing their fair share of disruptions. Additional regulatory requirements are increasing costs to deliver advice and with businesses already stretched to their limits, education standards are requiring additional time and energy. It’s no surprise that in the past 12 months, over 18% of advisers (5000 advisers) have left the industry. And that was before the bushfires and a pandemic.

But I truly believe that with disruption comes opportunity.

Our new Practice Management programs, resources and tools – are designed to support advisers and help take advantage of opportunities disruption can bring.

To paraphrase Charles Darwin.

 

“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.”

 

The innovation and adaption we have seen already, may have been a silver lining of this pandemic.

Restaurants shifting from dine in experiences to takeaway whilst still maintaining their quality and brand. Traditional bricks and mortar brands forced into overhauling their procurement and fulfillment models in weeks, not years. Hotels offering isolation services for immunocompromised individuals and day rate stays for those struggling to work from home. Medicare and the broader health sector transitioned to telehealth and with this potentially delivering better health outcomes for regional Australia.

A personal favourite of mine is Australian business “Stagekings” – a provider of custom events and entertainment stages for events like the F1 and T-20 Cricket who have transitioned into producing thoughtfully designed, easy to assemble flat packed home office furniture direct to customers. They designed and produced for sale over 30 products and changed their business model, in less than 2 months!

We are also seeing Advisers adapt and evolve. Many now working in remote teams and adopting new technology at breakneck speeds. For some it has been the long-awaited catalyst to adopt processes such as digital signatures, cloud based CRM systems, team sharing software and online workflow tracking to name just a few.

As I have been speaking with Advisers over the past months, one thing that is clear to me is that Advisers are not just surviving, but they are thriving, and they share one key characteristic – they are keeping the client front and centre of their mission.

Right now can be an opportunity to increase client centricity into your business in a number of ways.

Engaging clients with intent and empathy

  • Providing clear and consistent communications - We may not have flexed these muscles in a while, having direct or challenging conversations with a client is an important part of the advice relationship. Successful Advisers can balance their time to truly listen, empathise and then provide perspective on what the client needs to know and what is just noise – playing the role of both the coach and confidant in times of crisis.

  • Engaging the ‘quiet worried’ – In times of crisis, many teams revert to reactive behaviours – dealing with the most urgent things first. However, proactively reaching out to the clients that aren’t asking questions can be just important. These are often the ones that don’t want to bother you or could be quietly at risk of leaving. Periodic check ins and emphasising you are there for them goes a long way.

  • Make video an asset in your client engagement – Whether it be video conferencing, video messaging or video marketing – the walls have come down and clients’ comfort around video is a significant opportunity for Adviser to consider how to permanently integrate video and digital channels into their service models.

Empowering teams to be more client centric

  • The function of remote working can allow teams to be more focused on the design of core processes and how they connect to the client experience. Let this be a turning point for your business to re-asses ‘the way we have always done things’ and to become more precise in the workflow steps, communications and quality of the delivery to clients now and into the future.

  • Collaboration software such as MS Teams or Slack has provided transparency in internal communications and collaboration, or programs such as Trello or Zenkit for workflow design, tracking and reporting on client deliverables.

Expansion opportunities

  • The Pandemic has allowed Advisers to extend and expand their client conversations to clients’ friends and family. Whether it be providing reassurance, validating information and insights or lifting the hood to let them know what Advisers can do to help them realise their goals, make time to engage in these opportunities as you could potentially uncover new clients or build referral opportunities.

  • Successful video conferencing enables Advisers to move beyond local geographies. Many will say that nothing replaces a face to face meeting, and I would largely agree. However, recent months have seen us adapt and adopt to new ways of communicating, and for many the increased convenience and ease of access has been welcome. This brings a significant opportunity for you to think differently about the client base you want to design for your business in the future. With the use of Zoom, Skype and Facetime now the new normal for most people, we can connect with clients in all locations across Australia or even internationally. With the right tools and approach – we believe virtual engagement with clients can be successful from initial consultations all the way to long term relationships for the right audience no matter where they are located.

The first half of 2020 has presented some unique challenges and forced us to adapt many aspects of our lives.

For you and your team – you may have adapted some minor or major elements of your business over recent months. But beware the risk of becoming too internally focused on what has changed for you – instead put the client at front and centre of your business. If you are adapting your processes or offering, invest the time to look at it from the perspective of your client and how they experience it. Is it memorable, is it easy, is it valued?

For your clients – these challenges may mean they require additional support and will value increased engagement. It may also be a catalyst for clients to consider their priorities, re-valuate their goals and may even desire to make additional changes in their lives and guidance on how to make this happen for them.

Through this period of change and beyond, we are committed to supporting Advisers and their clients. Russell Investments has a long history of Practice Management, with over 20 years globally, working with Advisers across Australia, US, Canada, UK and Europe. While different markets host different dynamics and challenges, there are many consistencies. We are passionate about helping advisers increase client engagement and intimacy and achieving outcomes that ultimately lead to clients achieving their life goals and financial security.

But we don’t stop there. Our Practice Management programs also focus on how a client oriented business model can also satisfy the needs of operational efficiency, compliance obligations and business management requirements. Achieving this balance is critical to sustainable growth and increasing your business value.

To support you at this time, we are launching our new Practice Management programs, resources and tools – each designed to support advisers adapt and make positive change in their business.

While Advisers may have been or continue to face unique challenges, we believe that those open to adapt and evolve may discover new and innovative ways of delivering value to their clients. We are excited to work with Advisers through our new Practice Management Programs and help harness the opportunities for growth. Let’s make the second half of 2020 about optimising and evolving our businesses to be better positioned for the future.

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