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Michelle Hoskin: Focus on quality over qualifications

We must keep focus on quality over qualifications and on excitement over exhaustion

Quality is the profession’s Holy Grail, so why is it only now taking centre stage? I have been banging the drum for professionalism and quality standards since the moment I became a financial services coach and consultant over 20 years ago. But no one was ready to listen.

At that time, the industry looked very different. Then, around a decade ago, the regulators began to wake up and things started to change. As I outlined in my last article, a global wave of change headed straight for our shores:

  • Regulators and professional bodies commenced reviews, audits and sector surveys;
  • New policies were introduced to raise professional standards, with qualifications, designations and industry achievements becoming an obsession;
  • Commissions were cut, and even banned in some countries;
  • Administration became overwhelmingly restrictive, time-consuming and, in so many cases, totally unnecessary;
  • Employers and people in general were no longer motivated by money;
  • Consumers became smarter and more demanding. They became pickier about what they wanted, creating a deeper reliance on their relationship with advisers.

Because sales skills were no longer going to be enough to get advisers through, things had to change. And despite the battering the industry received, so many of them still fought back.

Michelle Hoskin: Time to take back control of our profession

Unfortunately, however, adapting to the new world was not easy.

“Why do we need more structures and procedures? We are not big corporates,” advisers would ask. “Why do we need more people in the team when I can take care of the admin… at the weekend?”; “I am the adviser – I have all the technical knowledge we need.”

Thankfully, the penny eventually dropped, and businesses emerged focused on best practice, quality, sustainability and teamwork. Quite simply, getting the job done to the best of their abilities.

So, what now? How do we keep that momentum going? How do we keep the focus on quality over qualifications, on teamwork over loneliness, on excitement over exhaustion? We need to think differently.

At the point you exchange services for money, you are in business. This is not a hobby; this is not a job you do for free. This is the fuel that feeds your team and your family, and lights the fire in your belly.

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This is who you are. Stop simply focusing on today. Lift up the lid on your business, sit down with your team, get a blank piece of paper and talk. What does awesome look like for everyone and in every part of your firm? Think about:

  • Your clients;
  • Your service;
  • Your culture;
  • Your team;
  • Your financials;
  • Your communication;
  • Your environment;
  • Your processes and procedures;
  • Your technology.

Only when you have burst through the walls of your everyday thinking can you start to build a business you know deep down you are capable of building.

But before you do this, there is something very important you need to ask yourself.

Do you have what it takes? Do you have the passion and the drive to lead a team to the next generation of your firm? Because if you are going to start down this road, you had better make it to the destination.

Michelle Hoskin is founder and director of Standards International

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