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RDR turning from a task to an opportunity

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Roderic Rennison, Director, The Ideas Lab

Roderic Rennison, Director, The Ideas Lab

Given that this time of year is usually one for reflection, I took the time to re-read Lisa’s diary since Adviser Evolution first launched. RDR has moved in her mindset from a task to an opportunity.

Lisa makes the point that early progress was dictated by exams but they have now moved into the phase of looking forward instead of reaching back. The latter is a state of mind that holds many back.

It has been said before that to fail to plan is to plan to fail but that’s never been more true than with a deadline such as the RDR is in place. Our recommendation is to work back from the end of 2012 rather than work forward, only to be depressed by a timeline ending sometime after RDR takes effect. I realise that some people are visualising the 7th cavalry coming round the corner just before the end of 2012, with RDR being put to the sword, but I feel that is unlikely, given the stage we are at.

As we see it, there are three distinct groups in the market - the first is preferring to maximise revenue between now and the end of 2012, the second is the younger members of their staff (I hesitate to use the word team) and the last group is those making the transition with all possible speed, seeing the opportunities and negotiating around any barriers.

Equally important for BA Fleming is that any changes have been made with consultation from both the team and their clients. All too often, changes are determined - or, worse, implemented - without consulting those who are meant to operate or benefit from them. Some firms have gone even further and formed client focus groups where they meet on a regular basis and this forum allows the firm to “float” ideas for new services or refinements to existing ones.

As Lisa has correctly identified, the communication methods used to attract and retain clients are absolutely crucial. Although refreshing
a corporate logo is frequently seen as small beer, when it is done by major companies in difficult times like now, it can be just what a firm needs to signal a new start.

’I realise that some people are visualising the 7th cavalry coming round the corner just before the end of 2012, with RDR being put to the sword, but I feel that is unlikely, given the stage we are at’

Similarly, when moving from commission to fees (I mean real fees, not fee offset - more of that later) firms need to take the opportunity
to reposition themselves, which enables the introduction of new or refreshed services to existing clients.

I mention fee offset as I consider many firms have been calling themselves fee-based while receiving commission that is in some cases more than required to cover the notional fees “charged”. This means that the clients are likely to realise the true level of fees and a difficult conversation may follow in 2013. I am glad to see that Lisa’s firm has not made that error.

It is also been good to see that Lisa and her team are not trying to do it all themselves and are using external resources as required. This
is very important, especially where a new design or logo is needed. This use of external resource will continue to increase and in many firms will allow for a very slim structure, where admin, paraplanning, technical resources and investment are provided by external firms.

In conclusion, the progress made has been substantial but more is still to be done and that should serve as a warning for those yet to engage.

Advisers need to take the time out now and consider just what has to be done and allocate and monitor those tasks. The key skill here is project management. If you don’t have it, import it.

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