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Phil Wickenden: It’s the difficult work that is worth doing

A marketing-driven organisation is run by the marketing department. It revolves around what marketers do. A market-driven organisation is driven by what the market wants, regardless of what the marketing department feels like doing. Now, of course, there are organisations driven by sales, shareholder relations, operations and finance too, and you can usually tell which is which fairly quickly.

But for each, the option remains to be market-driven. In fact, you may need to be sooner rather than later. With margins squeezed like never before, every resource either counts or counts against you and what your business is trying to achieve.

It sounds obvious, but there are very few genuinely market-oriented firms in the industry. It is actually quite hard to do. Having a market orientation means the focus is always on the customer, competition, co-operation between business functions and responses to changes in the environment. As well as a whole host of other stuff.

To use an example from our recent research, it is clear the needs of the advice industry are not wholly being met by the level of support on offer.

Consistent throughout our research was the importance of problem resolution, underpinned with better technical expertise. Yet this remains one of the most inconsistently delivered facets of support. While no one is saying service is not important, there is a common lack of appreciation of why. Anything that is not bolted firmly to a big fat “why” is usually unsustainable.

Given advice firms are more reliant on delivering a higher level of service to a smaller group of wealthier clients, advisers can ill-afford costly delays or errors at a time when there is greater scrutiny over value.

The premium on the peace of mind that comes from knowing any issues that arise can be understood, interpreted and addressed, with minimal disruption to business, is significant. Knowing what each interaction means for the adviser and their client is not straightforward and requires genuine engagement.

But in today’s world, it is the difficult work that is worth doing. It is worth doing because difficult work allows you to stand out, create value and become someone really worth doing business with.

Phil Wickenden is managing director at Cicero Research

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