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Sue Whitbread: Reviewing your business is its own reward

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Does your business need a spring clean?

With day to day client work proving more than enough to keep most advisers fully occupied, taking time out of a busy schedule to undertake a thorough review of the processes and procedures that lie behind the business is often not given the attention it deserves.

However, it is this work which is such an important business driver for future success. Through it, you can identify things that are working well for you, and things that are not working so well.

For starters, firms will be expected to carry out audits by PI insurers who will regularly ask when the last compliance audit was conducted on the firm, whether that is internal or external. The regulator will also ask the question when it conducts reviews on firms.

Compliance is not just about covering your back. A positive compliance culture will create the innovation and developments at the sharp end that will help your firm to exceed your clients’ expectations. In this new regulatory world, that is not something to be overlooked.

Effective management consultancy is about taking the time to explore how you can do what you do more efficiently, more effectively, more profitably and in a way that clients will love.

This can however be expensive. Up until 3 May, adviser firms have a golden opportunity to undertake a management consultancy job on themselves courtesy of the IFP.

The David Norton “Building Excellence” award is open to all adviser firms and not just those of IFP members. It seeks to identify good financial planning firms which are on the journey to becoming great ones.

Launched in the memory of former IFP President David Norton, it’s based on mentoring as David was a strong believer in mentoring others. Unselfishly, he spent a significant part of his career inspiring and teaching others how to build excellent financial planning businesses many of which are still thriving today.

The application process for the award is built on those tenets, examining the key business processes in detail, it’ll really make you think about what you do and why and how you do it.

The prizes for the winning firm consist of an outstanding package of mentoring from experts Brett Davidson of FP Advance, Elizabeth Holt of Holt PR, Abbie Tanner of A Business Innovation and Tracey Underwood of Pace Solutions ltd.

This is the sixth year that we’ve run this award and the feedback from firms who have entered it in the past has been overwhelmingly positive. It’s all about the application process, which asks for key management information as well as well thought out business plans to be submitted to a panel of experienced judges.

It is not a simple matter but like most things that challenge you, there are tangible benefits to be had from doing so.

So, if you think it’s time that your business got a bit of a spring clean but don’t want to face the costs of bringing in an external consultant, just invest the time to compile your entry for this prestigious award. Visit www.financialplanning.org.uk for details and the online application form.

Sue Whitbread is communications director at the Institute of Financial Planning

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