Are you sick of reading about how great everyone says running a Financial Planning business is?
In a recent survey we conducted here at FP Advance we asked a bunch of advisers the question; “How fulfilled are you at this stage in your business?” and we got them to give us a satisfaction score out of 100.
The average score was 74. The lowest was 12, and there were plenty of 100s.
However, when I scanned the data there were a lot in the 30-60 range. Too many for my liking. Some of the comments attached to the scores made it all sound like a bit of a grind.
So how do you beat the grind?
Most advisers I know started their own business after leaving a previous firm they couldn’t stand, to do things right. That is, to do things right by the client.
Giving advice is what most owner-advisers love to do. It’s managing the ‘everything else’ that causes them the stress and takes the fun out of what can be a hugely fulfilling profession.
The Passion Killers
The two biggest passion killers for adviser owners are:
1. Team not working
When your team doesn’t work, everything bounces back to you. That can see you having to be involved in jobs that are absolutely not your skillset, such as administration work. However, it can also see you involved in work that although you could do it, you don’t really love. For example:
- Report writing
- Data collection and fact finding
- Building cash flow models
- Researching product solutions
- Creating processes
- Managing the team
2. Weak processes
In the great Financial Planning businesses they know exactly what they do at each step in the process.
You’ll often hear that you should map your process step by step, and you should. But it sounds as boring as hell doesn’t it? And it is.
The best firms think about it differently. They start with creating an engaging client experience at every step of the journey, and map a simple process to support each step. The focus here is on making the client experience fun and great, for you as well as the client. Creating a great client journey feels a lot more exciting than just mapping a boring old process.
The real issue
While it’s true that an imperfect team and weak processes are the passion killers, they are not the real issue.
The root cause is often a lack of business management skills at owner level.
I don’t know about you, but when I joined the Australian financial services industry in January 1991 every single bit of training I ever received was around selling skills and technical qualifications. I see exactly the same focus on those areas right now.
Business management skills are assumed, and often lacking.
If, for any reason, your business has become a grind, in simple terms you’ve got two options:
1. Go and get a job within an existing Financial Planning firm where they have a solid foundation in place; great support team, great processes, and strong business management.
2. Learn some business management skills that let you resolve your major issues (people and process).
While option 1. sounds like a genuine option, most adviser-owners I know are strongly motivated by the control and freedom that running a business their way provides them.
Taking a job with someone else comes with its own set of tradeoffs and compromises.
With option 2. if you can master some management skills you can get the right support team around you and then create some strong processes. Now you are free to be the energetic, skilled, creative individual that you were meant to be. That’s when the job gets fun again, and the possibilities open up for you. But to get to that place you have to work through this phase of your business development.
What got you here might not get you where you want to end up.
It’s all about your vision
What keeps you going as you work through the grind of assembling your great team? It’s not easy and you might have to kiss a few frogs along the way.
It all comes back to your vision for yourself and your business. Why are you doing this? What’s your goal bigger than money?
Somewhere in that vision for yourself is likely to be meaningful and fulfilling work; and it doesn’t get much better than Financial Planning for that.
Get honest with yourself
The first step is to get honest about where you are at, and I mean brutally honest.
What’s working and what’s not? Write it down. You’ll quickly highlight the issues that need your attention.
For example, you might jot down:
- When I’m in front of clients I’m good. How do I do more of that?
- I spend too much time getting involved in follow through and administration – why?
- I can’t just hand off stuff to my team – the team are not skilled enough and can’t do the jobs I need done to the correct standard
- I don’t have time to train people
- I need some new team members otherwise it will never change
- I’m terrible at recruiting
From that quick honesty session you might realise that your first hire needs to be a great practice manager. That way you can free yourself up from managing the day to day stuff, like recruitment, team, process, admin etc.
Alternatively, you might decide that you have to outsource, so that you can keep your employees to a minimum. That might come with some compromises. Are those compromises acceptable to you? If so, run with it. If not go back to the practice manager option.
You can see how quickly you can identify the real issue when you get honest with yourself. Don’t sugar coat it, but be honest about your existing strengths too. We’ve all got good points and bad points sitting in our businesses, regardless of our level of development.
Get things done
Once you know what’s got to be done and why you are doing it, then there’s nothing to do but get on with it. If it takes 12 months to get your manager in place and up to speed, so be it. One year of treading water might set you up for a decade of spectacular growth.
Failing to address the real issue, or living in denial of why you’re a bit stuck, could keep you in the same uncomfortable place for years. That’s no way to go through life.
It’s time to beat the grind.
Let me know how you go.