In a tough economic climate, and a changing regulatory environment, it is critical to consider the structure of your business and your revenue streams. To help firms meet this challenge, Aifa, with the support of Skandia, has developed FF>>WD (www.aifaffwd. net), our online business academy. Designed by IFAs for IFAs, it is free to use for all Aifa members.
This business transition work will allow members to prepare their firms for the post-RDR world while at the same time building a more financially robust and effective business.
The online academy was developed in response to member demand for a service that offered practical guidance, direction and the necessary tools to help firms transition to a better business model and build value in their organisation.
The first step in any journey is to understand your starting point. Therefore, the first element of FF>>WD is a business audit module. This enables firms to run a healthcheck and Swot analysis across the business. Assessment requires an honest approach – owning up to some of the shortcomings of a business can be a painful but cathartic exercise.
From conducting a thorough business audit and assessing where your business stands FF>>WD, then directs firms to modules that help them define where it is they want to be in the future. This includes modules to help build an overall vision for the business as well as templates to help with issues such as client segmentation; important in identifying the most (and least) profitable clients. Once these factors are determined, IFA firms can use FF>>WD to hone their overall proposition to clients and determine how to price the services they provide.
This is all very well but restructuring a whole business is not without its uncertainties and risks. Therefore, it is important that firms have an
understanding as to how these changes will affect the performance of their business.
FF>>WD has a fully interactive financial model. This enables firms to take the guesswork out of their restructuring and understand the financial
implications of change; the capital requirements, impact on cashflow and staffing considerations. This level of sophistication gives firms the luxury of running what-if scenarios, changing the variables within their business to assess their impact. Changes to the business model will hit cash flow levels but this model will help you assess the impact and keep you in business.
With so many different areas Chris Cummings Director general Aifa of the business to assess and possibly change, Aifa recognises that coordination of the project is paramount. This requirement is compounded when you consider that firms will be transitioning over months and years.
Aifa has provided further help with this issue. First, the FF>>WD Wizard tool is an intuitive traffic light system that monitors a firm’s progress,
highlights the tasks completed and those areas that need to be addressed. Second, a project management module which helps allocate tasks, manages risk and gives guidance on key performance indicators.
The service has seen some initial interest, with around 600 adviser firms already making use of the free service. Dennis Hall of Yellowtail has said the Academy works “for anyone who has never considered engaging a business coach but needs a detailed framework to get them in shape for life after the RDR.”
Despite the fact that Yellowtail is one of those firms largely prepared for life after the RDR, he still uses the academy tools as a way of checking that they remain on track. We have ambitious plans to develop the academy and ensure it meets the changing needs of firms. This
year, we will increase the overall functionality of the financial modeller tool and allow users to see how they compare with their peers.
IFA firms are looking to build more robust businesses in the future. FF>>WD can help them get there. I urge all Aifa members to sign up now
and see how we can help you build value in your firm, allowing you to thrive as the profession goes through a period of change.