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The 2009 SA Best Practice award

01 October 2009 Esm? Davies, Celestis

At the time of going to print, the winner of the 2009 SA Best Practice of the Year competition had not been made public. What we do know is that it is one of more than 130 practices who took the time to benchmark themselves against the best in the country.

These 130 practices will have gained much from the experience and are likely to have even more confidence to meet the challenges that lie ahead.

And this is exactly the intention of this competition, now in its third year. It was established as an industry event, facilitated by Celestis, FAnews and Business Health Australia, who have run a similar competition in that country for the past five years. The purpose of the competition is to focus attention on the importance of the business and the team involved in delivering service to the client – from a simple change of address through to a complex estate plan. While we would never downplay the role of the advisor, it is the business as a whole that provides the long-term stability and security that our clients seek.

Shift in focus

For many years we have been aware of the standards of excellence and professionalism that exists in the financial advisory industry. What we have taken note of is the shift in focus amongst practices from sales to business (practice) management. The results are clearly evident – an increase in profitability and in the value of the businesses themselves. The change has positive implications for practices (owners, advisors and staff), product providers and clients. Better business is better for all.

New entrants

Until now, the competition has been open to independent financial advisors which, by definition, has excluded financial advisors in the employee of the large corporate brokerages, banks and franchises, for example. Taking a closer look at the participants, we can see that there is mix of risk and investment advisors with a few healthcare specialists and an increasing number of short-term practices. A short-term practice was one of the finalists in 2008. Any exclusion has been as a result of the difficulty in comparing independents with others, but the intention in the future is to look at alternatives including the possible incorporation of categories into the competition. Should you have any ideas on the subject, please feel free to contact Celestis or FAnews.

Industry-wide support

The competition has been and will remain product neutral and product providers and other financial institutions are invited to become involved by way of support and sponsorship. This year has been one in which budgets have been particularly curtailed and a special vote of thanks is due to our sponsors Glacier, Prudential, Coronation, Old Mutual, Liberty, Masthead and the FIA for their contributions. They, together with Asisa, the FPI and Compli-Serve SA (Pty Ltd) endorse the principles of the competition. The judges for this year's competition came from the FIA (Justus van Pletzen), the FPI (Godfrey Nti), Asisa (Peter Dempsey) and Compli-Serve (Richard Rattue).

Gaining from the experience

Finally, thank you to all those who participated in this year's competition. We will feed the learnings we gain from the competition back into the market so that we can all gain from the experience.

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