If you run a Financial Planning, Wealth Management, or Financial Advisory business and you are looking to improve, then you might be considering a Financial Services Consultant.
But what for?
- Faster business growth
- More income
- Marketing support
- A move into genuine Financial Planning
- Succession planning
- Preparation for sale
- Process improvement
- Team issues
- Improved selling skills
Often, it’s a cross-over or blend of a few of these issues. But, before you start approaching consultants at random, trying to define where your biggest challenges might lie is a great first step.
Running a Financial Planning business is like a three legged stool.
The first leg is Knowledge. Do you know your onions, technically speaking? Let’s be honest, it can take you 10 or 15 years of hard work to become really knowledgeable as an adviser.
The second leg is Interpersonal Skills. Can you skilfully question, listen to, and engage with clients? This skillset can take you a long time to acquire too, just like knowledge.
The third leg is Business Skills. Whilst knowledge and interpersonal skills are central to the offering, the biggest hurdle for many great advisers is becoming a skilled business person.
If you know your stuff and can communicate brilliantly with your clients, you are going to be successful and generate a lot of new business and new client relationships.
That type of success brings you a whole new range of business-related challenges:
- Strategic challenges: Where are you headed? What matters most to you personally? What’s your higher purpose in building this business?
- Management challenges: How do you attract, retain and develop a great team?
- Technology challenges: What types of technology will improve your productivity and improve the client experience? And, just as importantly, what won’t?
- Financial challenges: How do you grow profitably and sustainably? How do you fund growth when you are successful?
- Leadership and personal effectiveness challenges: How should you behave as a leader in your business? How can you increase your personal productivity as the demands on your time grow?
A two-legged stool isn’t very stable, so, if you want a great business, it’s vital that you develop good business management skills.
A tiny percentage of business owners seem to naturally possess these skills from birth. Most have to learn them on the job.
After diagnosing what you feel are your major issues, there is still the issue of ‘fit’. Do you connect with the person you are looking to hire as your consultant?
The thing you are looking for here is respect. Do you respect the person you are looking to engage with? You may like them as well, or like their approach or personal style, but those things are not essential.
What is essential, is that you respect their expertise and input. Without that, the relationship is dead.
Like every other service on the planet, there is bound to be a Financial Services Consultant that fits your budget. But, before you set that budget, I want you to calculate the value you hope to receive.
Rather than a single price you can afford or are willing to invest, you’re more likely to have a range in mind. What might encourage you to find someone at the higher end of that range?
Remember the old adage, “Buy cheap and buy twice.” I’ve done it myself. We all have. So triple-check that you are not short-changing yourself by looking at the cheapest option.
Where will your value from a consultant materialise?
I typically see it come from three obvious areas:
- Increased personal income
- Increased capital value
When your business really starts to perform, forget the money. It’s the thrill of everything finally working as you knew it could that generates a deep sense of personal fulfillment.
What’s that worth to you?
Earning a bit more take-home pay never hurts.
As a simple valuation metric you can use three times recurring revenue as a guide. That’s not exactly how Financial Services businesses are valued, but it will do as a rule of thumb.
If your recurring revenue could increase by £100,000, that’s £300,000 of extra capital value at sale time.
When you evaluate some consulting support, remember, if it goes well you’ll probably get payback in all three of these areas. So the wins could be big.
However, if the engagement with your consultant is not going well, it should be easy for you to stop paying for the service; no lock-ins.
A Simple Process
So, here’s how to choose the best Financial Services consulting firm for you:
- Get clear on the current challenges you face
- Get clear on the outcomes you’re hoping to generate
- Ask other professional colleagues who they have used or would recommend
- Check out a few websites
- Drop the consultant an email to set up a call
- Hold the initial telephone call with the consultant
- Ask for some former clients to speak to as referees
- Make a decision to trial the consultant (is it possible to do an initial one-off day of work together?)
- Make a hiring decision
- Continue; or fire them and try again
Let me know how you go.