Cyborgs, Subscriptions and Other Observations From 2019 | FP Advance

Cyborgs, Subscriptions and Other Observations From 2019

BY brett

Futuristic image with text 2019

2019 is almost over. What the hell happened? 

Here are my top 5 themes from the year just gone:

1. Hiring Was Tough

I’ve never known a labour market so tight in my whole career (29 years). It didn’t matter who I spoke to, where they were located, or what position they were hiring for, it was incredibly tough to find suitable candidates.

If that was your experience too, don’t stress; you were not alone.

If that wasn’t your experience and you snagged someone amazing for your team, count yourself very lucky.

Interestingly, in the latter part of the year, the one position that was providing more candidates and CVs than it’s done for 5 years was paraplanning. So maybe all of those training pathways are starting to pay off. Fingers crossed.

2. The Rise Of The Practice Manager

I’m sure Practice Managers have always been key to growing and scaling a business, but this year I feel the role gained more acceptance from Financial Planning business owners.

Almost everyone I’m working with was looking for one, or promoting someone from within their team into the role, and that’s a good thing. I wrote about this in my blog, The One Key Person You Need In Your Business, and as I mentioned, a lot of firms are recognising the need for a Practice Manager much earlier in their development curve.

Dominika Sieradzka from RIE Solutions has created the Master Practitioners Club (MPC), specifically for Practice Managers to connect, learn and develop. Many of the current members and I met at their first MPC conference in November. It’s an amazing community. 

I’d recommend the Master Practitioners Club as a tool for any business owner that wants their Practice Manager to develop, or for any Practice Manager who is looking for a supportive environment in which to grow their skills. Check it out if you haven’t already.

3. The Membership/Subscription Model

For the last 12 months, I’ve been talking about the membership or subscription business model. There’s hardly an area of our lives where subscription services haven’t encroached. In today’s world, ‘access’ is often preferable (and more affordable) than ‘ownership’.

Add up the number of subscriptions you have in your own life:

  • Software licences at work
  • Access to information or learning (I subscribe to a poker coaching site)
  • Mobile phone services
  • Cloud storage
  • Netflix
  • Amazon Prime
  • Spotify or Apple Music

In the US, there’s a range of subscription services providing access to financial advice. Check out Fiscal Fitness Clubs of America and Wrenne Financial Planning.

I’m certain we’ll see a lot more of this in UK Financial Planning, especially as the NextGen Planners membership keep exploring what works for them and their younger clients. 

I believe it’s becoming imperative for long-standing Financial Planning firms who have traditionally served the approaching (or in) retirement market, to start running some business experiments with younger clients. The next generation of clients is looking to access what we do in new ways. Maybe a subscription service would work well here?
Practicing what we preach, in January 2019, FP Advance launched Uncover Your Business Potential Online; the online membership community for Financial Planning business owners, and it’s going great. It provides a structured and cost-effective way to access the golden nuggets you need to run a world-class planning business.

4. Robo Advice Becomes Cyborg Advice

In my January 2019 blog, Financial Times They Are A-Changin’: Rise of the Robos I alluded to cyborg advice; a mixture of Robo and human interaction. 

Two very interesting firms in the US market, which I would describe as technology-driven businesses, have advisers well and truly involved in their model; Facet Wealth and United Income (not to be confused with United Capital, recently sold to Goldman Sachs) see human advisers as central to their success. I’m taking that as a very cheery sign for all of us humans. 

Facet Wealth founder Anders Jones was on a panel at Bob Veres’ Insiders Forum conference in Nashville and described a vision for financial planning where tech exists to make advisers much more productive. In his view, adviser productivity hasn’t improved in 30 years. Watch this space.

5. Business Management Skills Are Driving Growth

Financial Planning businesses that possess, or are developing, stronger management skills are the ones growing much faster than the rest. 

Having the Financial Planning epiphany is great. We’ve all had it and realised that the customer-focused approach is the most fun to create and deliver. It’s a great “get- rich-slow” business model and there’s nothing wrong with that.

However, once you decide to create or build a Financial Planning business, you’ve got to improve your leadership, execution, and team-building skills. That’s the key to going large, or just having more fun at work, even if you’ve got no desire to go large.

It’s Time For A Rest

I hope 2019 has been good to you. 

And if it hasn’t, I hope you’ve learned a lot that you can re-invest in 2020.

Have a great holiday season and a magical New Year.


The next generation of clients are looking to access what we do in new ways.


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ABOUT BRETT DAVIDSON

When you work with FP Advance you work with me, Brett Davidson, directly. My motto is ‘advise better, live better’ and I practice what I preach. I’m straight talking and get to the heart of an issue quickly. There’s no beating about the bush, just a focus on helping things improve. Ask my clients – what I teach works.