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Helping Advice Businesses With Lessons Learnt

David King, Managing Director from VUE Consulting interviews Kim Payne around some of the lessons she has learnt over the last 10 years with the structuring, focus and management of advisers practices.

This month we talk “Practice Management” with Kim Payne, Managing Director and Principal Consultant at Experience Wealth Consulting.

(Please note: Experience Wealth Consulting is now trading as 9Rok Consulting.)

VUE: Kim, you have helped Financial Advisers in particular over the last 10 years with the structuring, focus and management of their practices. No doubt lessons from that industry will also help any Professional Services adviser. So let’s spend a little time on the issue of Practice Management. Do you see any difference in “mind set” or “attitude” between the average Adviser and the successful Adviser, or is it just a skill issue? If “attitude” has something to do with success as an Adviser, what attitudes do you see different in the successful Adviser?

KP: From my experience I would definitely suggest the key difference is due to attitude. Successful advisers have a different mindset to average advisers. For example, successful advisers focus on the following:

Profit over revenue
‘Right’ clients rather than ‘more’ clients
‘Investment’ mentality rather than ‘cost’ mentality
Team vs individual

Times of adversity such as the GFC or the pending Future of Financial Advice reforms are seen to represent opportunities to the successful adviser where as the average adviser see them as threats to their business or doom and gloom. Successful advisers have a ‘can do’ attitude. They acknowledge their limitations and engage the help of others to fill these gaps. It is similar to successful professional sports people who always have coaches to help them perform the best they can. I think the ‘skill’ here is having the right attitude to be a successful adviser.

VUE: A lot of Advisers and their practices seem to “peak” or “plateau” with just 1-2 Advisers (and a couple of support staff). Actually, this is a common issue for many self employed Advisers – how do they leverage up the business from 1-2 people to 8-10 people. Any tips or feedback from those Practices which have successfully scaled up their business?

KP: The best tip is having a growth plan in place that outlines exactly where the business wants to be at each stage of their growth and having an action plan in place to help them get there. These businesses also engage the services of external specialists to tap into the expertise and industry experience they may not have themselves and to receive objective and unbiased advice. This support helps them remain accountable to doing the things they committed to doing both during and after the engagement. Too many businesses experience grow without a plan in place or by default and it is these businesses that usually find the growth is not sustainable.

VUE: Advisers and Business Owners are busy! So much to do. If an Adviser could free up a little time each week – better time management or some additional resourcing – how should the average Adviser spend that extra time? What areas do you think most Advisers overlook or under-focus?

KP: One of the areas is spending time effectively marketing to attract more ideal prospects to their business. This is not advertising or brand management, it is around having a clearly defined marketing strategy in place that outlines the specific activity that needs to be done in each of their target markets to attract more ideal clients to their business. A marketing budget also needs to be part of this plan to make it truly effective. This ties back to the first question where I mentioned successful advisers have a ‘right’ client rather than a ‘more’ client mentality. The other areas adviser could spend more time is pro-actively managing their performance against their targets. Where they are not tracking towards their targets, they need to explore and implement appropriate strategies to help them get back on track. This performance management discipline is critical to building a successful business.

VUE: What’s your take on Social Media in Financial or Professional Services?

KP: I am mixed about social media in Financial or Professional Services as I have not personally experienced some of the benefits that it provides in the personal space. I do believe it is going to play an even more important role than it has to date in the future and in particular as younger clients start to engage more professional services. For businesses with generation Y clients I can see there are some greater benefits right now, for the others, the jury is out for me.

VUE: Finally, as a small business owner, what’s your #1 business development tip? What have you found has been the most effective way to grow your own business?

KP: The most effective way I have grown my business to date is through building my profile with speaking engagements and networking in the right places with the ideal type of prospective clients in attendance. This has helped promote my business and display how my expertise can help many different businesses depending on their needs on a mass scale. I also engaged the services of a marketing specialist who has helped me become more effective with my marketing activity and helped me focus on attracting more of the type of clients that add value to my business. These clients have also provided me with great referrals and repeat business.

VUE: Time for your “stadium pitch”. You are standing before 30,000 people and have 30 seconds to get them to call Experience Wealth Consulting and book an initial discussion with you. You step up and say…

KP: Experience Wealth Consulting (now 9Rok Consulting) is focused on helping you (advice businesses and licensees) achieve what is important to you. Through identifying the priority needs of your business, our approach is to develop simple, practical and commercial solutions to address these needs. In order to make any change sustainable, our ‘hands on’ approach is designed to help you successfully manage and implement any recommendations and keep you accountable to do the things you sign up to. Our clients are more confident, better differentiated from their competitors, challenged to keep moving their business forward and more accountable for their own actions. As a result, they are more assured of their decisions and enjoy their business.

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