Angus and Shadi Kirk enrolled in our first ever Uncover Your Business Potential (UYBP) course three years ago and are just about to graduate in June 2017. They are lovely people, family focused (with four – yes four, young children) and full of ambition.
This article is all about their business journey.
Here are a few headline statistics. In the last three years:
- Client numbers were deliberately reduced by more than 1400 (after completing an acquisition)
- Top line revenue is up 59%
- Assets Under Management are up 95%
- Annual recurring revenue is up 78%
- Net profit is well over 25% p.a.
- Average client business size has increased from an average AUM per client of £16,312 to £340,400
As I’ve written about in my previous Moving Forward series, there are six core areas that businesses must have in good shape if they want to succeed. In fact, if you could be 80% good in each of these areas you’d have a fantastic business too.
The six areas (with links to my previous articles on each) are:
Let’s look at what Bridge Investments do well in each of these areas:
Angus and Shadi set the cultural tone at Bridge as you’d expect. They are both full of energy and believe strongly in client service. Having come out of the old Edward Jones culture there were lots of things they wanted to change. However, there were also some real pearls of wisdom they’d learned from some of the good eggs at Edward Jones.
Here are a couple:
- Always do what’s right for the client
- Focus on high-quality investments and don’t follow fads
Their core values are:
- Trust: we believe that trust has to be earned and is the basis of all relationships
- Honesty: we value open two-way communication and are always transparent
- Accountable: we will create a supportive working environment where everyone takes responsibility for their actions
- Diligent: we follow a process to ensure that all our clients are given suitable advice
- Fun: we believe if our team is happy, we will have happy clients
PeopleAs with all the case studies we’ve featured at FP Advance, building a great team is one of the top priorities at Bridge. They’ve got some long-term stalwarts who’ve been there through each phase of business growth, and this year they are looking to add to the team to lay themselves a strong foundation for further growth.
When you are growing there can be trials and tribulations, and that’s been true at Bridge. However, Angus and Shadi are clear on what they are trying to do as a business and so assembling the right team has become more deliberate in the last year or two.
Shadi made a decision to take on the manager role within the business, allowing Angus to double down on his advisory focus. This role specificity at the top is a big decision, but an important one if a business really wants to grow, and Bridge do.
Angus is a high-performing adviser and rainmaker. He manages almost £500,000 of annual revenues as the sole adviser, supported by his team, of course. This is in line with the performance numbers I see across the industry:
- Average production for one adviser is £100,000 – £200,000 p.a.
- Good production is more like £300,000 – £400,000 p.a.
- Excellent (but achievable) production is £500,000 – £600,000 p.a.
Shadi has some very clear ideas on where the business should be heading from a marketing point of view, and her work is making a huge difference to the way the firm is positioned and perceived. This is helping improve the size of new clients coming through the door.
Without their strategic division of labour I don’t believe any of this would have been possible.
The major process focus at Bridge has been in simplification.
I recall doing a day on the UYBP course at the end of Year One that was all about simplifying the review meeting process. Angus and Shadi latched onto this one and really took the knife to their existing process.
They’ve reduced the information that client’s receive at their review meetings quite dramatically. They kept it simple and focused on what clients really want: to know that everything is going to be alright.
The investment process is also under review with simplification being one of the key objectives.
All great firms go through this epiphany, recognising that delivering great financial planning advice to clients doesn’t have to be over-engineered and complicated. When you have a client focus rather than just a compliance focus, life gets a whole lot simpler and the risks disappear from your business.
Good business management is about being strategic; thinking about what you’re trying to create and then executing that vision.
Like all our clients they’ve been well schooled in the business-planning process and weekly Level 10 meeting process from Traction, by Gino Wickman. These business management processes allowed them to get much clearer on where they wanted to go.
When Bridge first joined UYBP they’d recently purchased a client bank to grow their revenue and assets under management (AUM). However, this had increased client numbers to around 1500, which was way too high for a business of their size.
After some strategic reflection and discussion, Angus and Shadi decided to proactively address that situation. They worked through the process of deciding who they really wanted to serve, and then took steps to re-focus client numbers to a more appropriate level.
Over the ensuing 12 months client numbers were deliberately reduced down to 250.
More recently they’ve been reduced even further to around 150 key clients.
They can now focus on improving client quality, and continuing to move the business up market.
Bridge keep their eye on their three key ratios:
- Profitability ratios
- Productivity ratios
- Client Selection ratios
These are the three key levers you can pull within your business to change performance.
The profitability numbers at Bridge are some of the best I’ve ever seen. Net profit has been consistently above 25% p.a., even while making some of the adjustments and changes to strategy, staffing and client numbers.
Productivity is also improving and it’s showing up in the ratios. In the last three years:
- Revenue per planner is up from £153,780 p.a. to £490,768; an increase of 219%
- Revenue per staff is up from £76,890 p.a. to £122,692; an increase of 59%
- Net profit per staff member is up 83%
These are all signs that, not only are they doing more business, but they are getting more out of the resources they currently have in place. Staff headcount has not risen during the period. That will change over the next year or two, but further productivity gains will also be unleashed as a result and that will keep the business performing.
The third lever, client selection, is also moving upwards; quite dramatically. The quality of the clients coming through the door is significantly higher than it was 3 years ago.
Average client size has increased from £16,312 to £340,400 (the low initial number is a reflection of the large client base they purchased). The upward trend is common in businesses that are prepared to make the tough decisions on who they work best with, and it’s been proactively moved on by Shadi’s work on improving the marketing focus at Bridge.
As noted above, client quality has increased. That came from their conscious choice to reduce numbers of clients and from the clarity that Angus and Shadi were able to find on ‘who they wanted to serve’.
Lead flow has not been a problem at Bridge, and with every step forward they just seem to get better and better at attracting on-target leads.
Summary of Success
I’ve got very high hopes for this business over the next three to five years. Watch this space.
Feedback from Bridge Investments
“We are a totally different business to what we were three years ago. I could write paragraphs about what we have learned and implemented, but put simply, we deal with less people who have more money, and our revenue and profits have grown significantly.
At the outset, three years on the UYBP course seemed a long time. It’s not! We have analysed many aspects of the business, and Brett has brought in specialists on some subjects. Working in a group environment is great, as not only have we all seen each other progress through the same journey, it’s amazing how many of us face the same challenges.”