Smaller firms need to make a bigger impact
By BRETT DAVIDSON
If you were going to refer a friend or relative to another financial planning firm (not yours), who would you send them to?
I'm guessing you're not going to refer them to a big, branded player. It's much more likely to be another independently owned firm.
Because we know that many of the best financial planning firms in the country are still independently owned and managed. Financial planning is the killer service in the marketplace.
So why do the bigger branded players still control the lion’s share of the advice marketplace? It makes no sense and it’s time we called out the issue.
Financial planners love helping people. It’s what drives all of us.
So why are we so intent on keeping ourselves small and hidden?
And it’s not just prospective clients who can’t find you. I get calls regularly from advisers already in the profession who are stuck in an old school sales culture, who can’t find a financial planning firm to work with… and they’re industry insiders.
Trust me, you're the world's best kept secret (and that's not a good thing).
What's going on?
We’ve seen that robo advice isn’t likely to be the killer disruption. Personalised advice still has a ton of value and that’s not changing anytime soon.
However, to make an impact, independent advisers running a financial planning business model need to reach more people.
I realise that when you start out in any business, survival is goal number one; you do what you have to do.
Goal number two is to create an income and a lifestyle that supports your personal requirements, but after that’s achieved there’s so much more that’s possible.
Serving 100 clients is not going to change the world I’m afraid. It’s valuable and we’re all doing our best to make a difference, I’m not deriding that. However, if you can serve 100 clients well, why can’t you serve 200? And if you can serve 200, why can’t you serve 500. And if you can serve 500 why not 1000?
Can you see that as you reach each new milestone it becomes ‘believable’ that you could reach the next one? When you started with no clients whatsoever, serving 100 clients sounded crazy.
What's getting in the way?
The question to ask is “How can I scale up my existing offering, whilst retaining my personal, high quality service?”
When you start to answer that question it can feel a little intimidating and our limiting beliefs start to surface (I’ll cover those shortly).
The truth is that, as you grow in a business, you’re always doing things you’ve never done before. You don’t have to have the answers to grow and scale, you simply need to ask yourself the right questions.
The solutions can be found. You probably didn’t know exactly how things would work out when you were a start-up, but you got there in the end. And the reality is, many great financial planners have gone before you and so learning from their efforts and errors is the easiest (not easy) way to grow and help more people.
In my opinion the challenge for our profession is about vision. Do you have, or could you create, a greater vision for the good that you could do out in the world?
What would happen if independently owned firms scaled and dominated the marketplace? How much better off would society be?
Go niche or go home
To scale, you need to go niche.
Who do you serve?
Who do you love to serve?
Focus on becoming the best financial planning firm in your target market.
Won't this destroy your lifestyle?
There are a bunch of limiting beliefs that most adviser-owners hold about growing their business.
This is the first one: "If I grow my business, I'll have no life."
The thinking goes, “If it hurts this much generating [insert your current level of annual revenue here] generating 2x, 3x or 10x our current revenue will hurt 2x, 3x, or 10x more and I’ll die."
If that's your belief, then of course it makes no sense to want to scale and help more people.
But what if it's not true?
Let’s be honest, running a business takes work at any level. Staying small is hard too. What if more revenue, more staff, more professional management, better technology and more budget for everything meant you could deliver a killer world class service?
What if all of those things allowed you to focus on your own strengths while other skilled and capable people focused on theirs (in areas you find frustrating or difficult). Now your work can become fresh and new and exciting again.
I covered this first limiting belief in a recent blog, You Can Be Ambitious Without Destroying Your Lifestyle (here’s how). You can grow and scale within whatever boundaries you set for yourself.
And here's the second limiting belief: "If you 'scale' good advice, you'll lose the quality."
Scale up and don't lose the quality as you grow. Keep it amazing.
If that’s your goal (and it’s a good one) it might take longer. It might be more difficult. But it might also be more rewarding because it keeps you true to your own business and personal values. As I said earlier, great financial planners are not typically motivated by money – they just want to do things right.
Make it your life’s work. Build a 100 year business. Establish successors who buy into the mission and let it continue after you call it a day.
And by the way, if you are building this type of business, you might just find you don’t want to retire in the conventional sense at 60 or 65 years of age. When you’re on a mission to change the world life is a whole lot more exciting.
With the right team in place you can still have time for an amazing life outside of work. The mix of work and play is always up to you.
It's time to change the dynamics of our profession.
In the next part, I will continue with my exploration of how you can start stealing the best ideas and transforming your business.
BRETT DAVIDSON helps financial planners take the headache out of running a business, so that they can get back to doing what they love — looking after their clients.
This article was first published on Brett’s blog and is republished here with his permission.
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