Perception director Phil Billingham has set up a benchmarking firm, Practice Manager, to help advisers position their businesses in the market. Billingham met Maree in South Africa, where he says the practice management market is more developed than in the UK. Maree has created a database and benchmarking system which Practice Manager will adapt for the UK adviser market.
Billingham says: “It will benchmark the adviser firm against treating customers fairly and also the standards of ISO 22222. It will tell you where your firm is at the moment and look at the options and the next steps for where you want it to get to.”
The web-based tool will ask between 80 and 100 questions and produce a report of where the firm stands in relation to certain benchmarks.
Billingham thinks practice management will become buzzwords for advisers this year. He says: “Advisers have been very strong at building relationships and giving advice. The retail distribution review has forced firms to look at what they are bad at and branding, market planning and succession planning are weak areas.”
He cites Hargreaves Lansdown as a good example of how to brand an adviser firm and says some firms have been successful in their practice management but the UK generally trails behind countries such as the US.
Billingham says: “Our system will produce a dashboard which will guide advisers by giving them ideas and suggestions as to how they can close those gaps. Once we have the two points fixed of where they are and where they want to be, we can give them a map to get them from here to there. Some firms will need a lot more help than others.”
Billingham says the RDR has led to many advisers waking up and realising they will have to position themselves more carefully.
He says Perception received more enquiries about its services from advisers in the week after the RDR was launched than is normal in a whole year.
He urges advisers to make changes to their businesses now and not to hold out for the outcome of the RDR.
Billingham says: “We do what we are told to do and react to regulation rather than the other way round. If you do not start adapting to this, then you are missing a trick.”