The summer holidays are a quieter period for many intermediaries and therefore provide an opportunity to reflect on progress and decide on the priorities for the months ahead.
So what are the key areas you might want to think about considering the current regulatory and business landscape?
1. Your to do list
It is easy to keep putting off certain tasks through lack of time or inclination. If you have items you have had on your list for months, make the effort to remove them if they are not important or prioritise and then act on them if they are.
2. Adviser effectiveness
Having reviewed progress against the objectives set, are all the advisers in your firm performing as planned? If not, what help do they need? Are there any that, when objective measures are applied, will be unlikely to succeed? If so, it may be time to have that difficult conversation, which is all too easy to put off.
3. IT software
IT software (and sometimes the hardware too) remains an issue for many intermediary firms. For some it is the challenge of using it to improve processes and the delivery of management information because of its seeming complexity; for others it is the concern it is no longer fit for purpose. The amount of time and upheaval involved in reviewing suppliers, let alone migration, is daunting and so this issue sometimes festers on the “too difficult” pile.
It is worth listing what you need versus what you are currently getting from your software supplier and then engaging with them. Having done so, it may be that training or an upgrade will address the gap between the current and required performance. If an appraisal of what else is out there is needed, then the effort and cost will ream dividends if, in the process, it makes your business more effective and compliant. Both help build long-term value.
Most intermediaries have re-visited their proposition and, in particular, their centralised investment proposition at least once since the advent of the RDR. If you are offering a choice of propositions to your clients, are there any gaps in light of experience? In particular, how are you dealing with your dormant/inactive clients and is now the time to re-visit how technology and the emergence of robo-advice might provide a possible solution?
Meanwhile, can you demonstrate your advisers and support staff are able to deliver the requisite solutions to your clients following the introduction of the new pension freedoms? Do they need further training?
5. Investment committee
Following on from proposition and the changing market conditions, have you reviewed how effectively your investment committee is functioning? If you do not have periodic external review of the committee’s activities, you should consider whether this is an area to address.
In turn, how is the investment committee managing the oversight of the platforms, discretionary investment managers and other suppliers you are using to support your proposition?
The FCA is focusing on how intermediaries select and then manage their supplier relationships, so now is a good time to review both processes and the continued suitability of suppliers.
Time spent planning for these and any other areas outstanding will help ensure that your business is in better shape for the remainder of the year (and that you enjoy your holiday when the time comes) without being distracted by thoughts of what needs to be done.
Roderic Rennison is director of The Ideas Lab