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Part 2: Creating a win-win strategy for a sustainable practice

06 March 2017Myra Knoesen

Continuing on from part 1 of ‘Creating a win-win strategy for a sustainable practice’ we left of where Daniel Russell, Managing Director at Verbatim Asset Management, a UK base company that offers a complete supply chain management service helping advisers to power profitable and compliant business models, said owners should ask themselves three fundamental questions which are; what business am I in? Why am I in this business? And, what do I want to achieve with this business?

So without further ado, let us look at the three fundamental questions that Russell highlights.

Determining your expertise

Russell mentioned that it is essential to determine what business you are in. He advises you to ask yourself if you are in a financial advice business. “Are you a wealth manager? Are you a financial planner etc?” 

“There have been countless firms across many sectors that have lost sight of the requirements of their customers. For example, the American railroads company who thought they were in the railroad business, but were actually in the business of transporting people and goods - a misconception which led to them eventually losing out to the airlines),” said Russell. 

He continued by mentioning that there are also examples of businesses that used their resources and capabilities to shift their delivery in line with their customers in order to thrive (such as IBM, focusing on technical services and consulting and selling off its PC and laptop manufacturing).

“If you are charging fees yet are still in the business of intermediating products, I believe you have a serious problem. However, charging fees for valuable financial planning that is not reliant upon the intermediation of any one type of product is a way of aligning yourself directly with a growing consumer need,” he said.

Looking at a bigger picture

The next question Russell deems important is to ask yourself why you are in the business. He mentioned that some people build a career around their hobby, but you often do not find many people whose hobby is dealing with other people's finances. 

Firstly, there is the issue of finding clients and gaining trust from clients, then there is the issue of investing the clients’ money in sustainable and profitable vehicles thus, assuming this a hobby most people find unattractive.

Therefore Russell emphasises that you need to ask yourself what you are doing this for. “Is it to pay the bills? Is it to grow an empire, or to take on the challenge of seeing what you can achieve?” He said.

He further stated that understanding the motivation for running an advisory business is key, because then you can focus on the third question which is “what do you want to achieve with this business?”

Russell asked, “Do you want to grow, expand and bring in more people? Do you want to sell up and sail off, literally on your new boat, after a few years? You cannot build a focused business strategy unless you really know what you want to achieve.” 

A long-term goal

“Write down the targets. It could be a date for retirement, an ongoing income you want to achieve or a capital lump sum you wish to receive. Succinctly stating the goal is the first step to making it happen,” he stated. 

Of course, Russell said that you then need to break down the plan of how you are going to achieve these goals. “Regardless of whether you want to acquire other firms, sell up or grow organically, there is one thing in common across all these goals - none of them will be achieved without a plan,” he said.

 

All of these potential strategies require a few key building blocks in order to succeed and Russell said they are: a clear, unambiguous client proposition, a focus on the consumer and a clear robust supply chain.

Sealing the deal

With these things in place, Russell noted you are in position to generate sticky client fees; fees that are paid because clients value the service, regardless of who is delivering it.

“This allows you to expand your business or sell your business with much greater ease So, it is worth taking time out from the noise, from the day to day grind and to step back and work out the method you will use among all this madness to achieve what you want to achieve,” concluded Russell.

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