Plutosoft co-founder Vincent Holland explains how to build a review process that allows you to achieve true scale and efficiency
Have you ever asked yourself what success means for your financial planning firm?
Is it achieving outstanding financial performance, building a great network of clients or delivering a service that exceeds expectations? Perhaps it’s a combination of different things.
At this time of change, it’s an important question to ask. Never has the industry been so fractured yet ripe for opportunity.
Every financial planner’s pain
The biggest problem most financial planners are facing right now is capacity bottlenecks. Financial planners are reporting that they are struggling to keep up with the surging number of new client enquiries coming through their doors. These are high-quality enquiries who would make excellent long-term clients. Exactly the type of business you would want to win but is being turned away.
Sounds like a good problem to have. More demand than you can manage, and certainly better than the alternative of having no demand for your services.
But a good problem is still a problem, and it needs to be solved. A great enquiry is a missed opportunity unless you have the capacity to convert it.
So, how do firms free up capacity to win new business and achieve true scale and profitability?
The review processes
This may sound counterintuitive, but the key to winning more new clients is to improve the service you provide to your existing clients. Most established firms spend most of their time servicing existing clients. By making small, incremental, improvements to your review process, you can unlock more capacity to win new clients.
A well-structured, efficient review process is the key to building a scalable firm to turbocharge organic growth and potentially take advantage of M&A opportunities.
There are 3 things every firm can do right now to improve their review process.
Get your stop-watch ready
Measure exactly how long it takes to service a client on average. What isn’t measured cannot be improved. Break your process into discrete steps, beginning with pre-meeting preparation, presenting, and implementing the review advice.
In a poll we conducted at the recent XY Adviser PD Day, most firms spent 5-8 hours on average reviewing a client and some spend more. Let’s say you service 200 existing clients and spend 8 hours reviewing each client. By reducing that time by half, you will free up 800 hours per annum that can be redirected to winning new clients. That should translate to converting 32 new clients per year (assuming 25 hours to convert each new client).
That is a truly staggering amount. As those new clients become existing clients, they too can be serviced efficiently, and the growth cycle repeats itself. You now have the scale to expand and become more profitable.
Technology is your friend
To reduce the time to service, without compromising the quality of the service, great firms use technology more effectively. Good technology can automate just about every non-core part of the review process. We found that firms who use an online client portal – getting their clients to prepare for and book their review meeting online – can save up to 2.5 hours per client, a remarkable saving.
Another pain point for planners is the time it takes to produce the review documentation. As ASIC has previously made clear, you must provide an advice document for your clients every year in which an ongoing fee is being charged.
The right technology can help to automate the production of the Record or Statement of Advice, the relevant Fee Disclosure Statement and other compliance documents.
Bring modelling into your review meetings
You should spend your review meetings focussing on your client’s bigger picture. One of the best things I did in my own advice practice was to bring interactive cash flow modelling into my client meetings.
Interactive charts with powerful visuals give clients better insight into their decision-making and to better understand the trade-offs. Should we salary sacrifice or pay off the mortgage? Send our children to private or public schools? Retire earlier or later?
These are the questions that matter most to clients and technology can help facilitate these more meaningful conversations.
Spend time to save time
Good processes and structure don’t just happen. They take time to develop and nurture. Great leaders set aside time to work on their processes and use an effective workflow management system to manage this.
This is a difficult, but important discipline to develop, particularly when you are caught up in the day-to-day hassle of running a business. But the effort spent will reap the rewards in the longer term.
Mergers and Acquisitions
Firms that have a well-structured, efficient review process, should not only achieve record organic growth but also position themselves well for future M&A opportunities. Successful M&A transactions only happen when the right foundation – which starts with great processes – has been laid.
With the large institutions leaving the sector, there is a big opportunity for successful, boutique firms to rise and fill this void, and I think that’s a good thing for the sector.
Find out more about Plutosoft by visiting our website and booking a demo.
Plutosoft is a comprehensive financial planning software and practice management program. Built to solve the industry’s greatest challenges, Plutosoft helps financial planning firms produce high-quality advice documents in a fraction of the time.