We can be a fairly negative bunch, tending to focus on the threats rather than the opportunities.
But we really do have an increasing number of reasons to be cheerful and I feel the time is right to capitalise on these. As our experience shows, it just takes some focused, integrated thinking.
In an industry that is liable to base its views on previous experience or past performance, there may appear to be little change. There are, however, some significant developments.
Most businesses have addressed the issues arising from depolarisation. It has simply produced some more options for advisory businesses. A-Day, self-invested personal pensions, wraps and and platforms also create opportunities. At the very least, they should enable advisory businesses to revisit their clients’ financial plans.
Then there is Treating Customers Fairly, which is an obsession of mine, if only because our industry has not done itself many favours in developing long-term relationships with clients.
The network landscape has changed dramatically in the past two years, with most reinventing themselves as service providers offering unbundled, menu-type packages which allow advisers to pay for what they need.
In terms of technology, while we have all bemoaned the pace of change over the last few years, many advisers have unfortunately missed the fact that if they focus on what actually works, they can truly transform their business.
These all present opportunities in isolation but with some integrated thinking it is possible to develop new business plans in which marketing and technology work hand in hand to deliver improved client propositions with reduced running costs. For example, you can now:
Select a back-office system which uses data effectively. Ultimately, electronic data will drive the value of your business, an increasingly vital aspect for those who do not want to work for ever.
Receive bulk data downloads from an increasing number of providers and fund managers that automatically populate your back-office system.
This data can automate a review of existing portfolios, leading to up-to-date client records with a clear servicing expectation.
Produce high-quality branded marketing literature at low cost in a number of formats, so you can send hard copy and electronic communications to clients to support that servicing or new business campaign.
Produce an interactive website which posts clients’ valuations automatically and gives them the option to update their fact-find.
Reduce paperflow dramatically. Electronic document storage and the ability to send documents electronically work well and the costs have plummeted.
Electronic commission and valuations take a bit of time to set up but these services now create the opportunity to support a new business model.
Is this relevant to your business? It is now possible for any advisory firm to have a business strategy which uses marketing and technology to ensure that the value of advice and aggregation of holdings on behalf of clients are recognised and valued separately from products and policy administration.
Joined-up thinking can create value in the business. Just consider all the fuss about the misnomer that is wrap. I believe this has been created by the battle as to where the value of financial services business lies.
Integrated thinking can create appropriately shared values to the benefit of all parties but, most important, your own business and your clients’ financial health.