What happened to 2006? It really does seem that time goes faster the older we get. But enough of last year. What are you going to do in 2007 that is going to improve on the year just gone?
It is easy to complain about being attacked by the media and the regulators, alongside the eccentrics at the Treasury, but what would that achieve, apart from making our blood boil?
With any changes, problems and frustrations that come our way, we unconsciously choose one of three responses to such circumstances. We can either choose to get angry at the situation, we can just accept the situation for what it is and brush it aside or we can look for the opportunity in the situation.
The problem with getting angry or annoyed is that it does not move us forward. It takes our attention off the positive things around us, with no effect on the person or organisation causing the grievance. But getting angry is a choice that many advisers take – just look at the letters page.
Another batch of advisers do not let these things get to them but simply ignore them, hoping that they will go away. But change is constant and this attitude results in stagnation and depression. Successful advisers, however, look for the opportunity in the situation as every circumstance carries an opportunity, if only we are prepared to put the effort into seeking it.
So, with the changes last year, what are the opportunities for 2007? From talking with fellow advisers, many are still trying to seize the opportunities for rebranding that arose as a result of depolarisation and the TCF initiative.
In the 21st Century, it is increasingly clear that to be successful in any profession, you need to be different. This means repackaging our proposition to offer clients an experience that they will be prepared to pay for. Whether payment is by fees or ultimately commission is irrelevant, the emphasis is on experience. Clients will remunerate their adviser for a great experience but are otherwise always reluctant to simply buy products because they can often acquire the same products cheaper and more conveniently elsewhere. This is a very simple idea, yet few IFAs understand this.
Depolarisation and TCF have accelerated the focus on what we offer our clients. Use the New Year to give thought to what this means for you and how your business will look by January 2008.
An initial step towards rebranding would be to create a mission statement that encapsulates what you do and who you do it for. This can be used by clients and/or as an internal tool to guide your team. Use language that sets you apart from your competitors and create a procedure for your business that defines each step as seemingly unique to you.
Another thing that I would like to change in 2007 is a realistic measure of what is new business. Based upon anecdotal evidence, it seems to me that, for many advisers, most new business is churning, sorry rebroking, of existing business, for example, moving money out of with-profits bonds.
Of course, this may be valid advice but it seems that IFAs have forgotten how to sell.
How do product providers justify saying that they are growing when they are only measuring new money in and not existing money out?
Among the advisers I talk to, we seem to be one of the few firms to be actively seeking and bringing in new monies. Our branding now results in us having more leads than we can handle. And this onto another opportunity – to recruit new advisers who share our holistic financial planning philosophy rather than those who have lost all their drive and ambition. It is a tough challenge.
Unless you are already 100 per cent happy with what your business stands for, what are you going to do to make 2007 the year of change?
Bhupinder Anand is managing director at Anand Associates.