This week our guest article comes from someone I know well and work closely with, Dominika Sieradzka. Dominika is a practice management consultant, and we often work with the same clients; me on strategy and structure issues, and Domi on sorting out the back office (team and processes).
This article gets right to the heart of why you might not be as efficient as you’d like to be.
Over to you Dominika:
Dispelling efficiency myths
If you are reading this post and you are an owner of an advisory practice then some of the common myths mentioned below may resonate with you. However, if you are reading this post and you work with an owner/adviser of an advisory practice, most of these myths will seem familiar.
Myth 1: Delegation of tasks is impossible; I must maintain control over everything at all times
Relinquishing control is one of the biggest challenges for most business owners. However, if you’re trying to get ahead, it’s also one of the best things you’ll ever do.
In order to run an efficient business there has to be a clear division of roles and responsibilities. In your capacity as business owner it is important that you provide a clear vision for the business, but the execution of it should be left to your Chief Operational Officer or Practice Manager (and if you haven’t got one, get one!). This person will also oversee all of the HR issues and team management that you enjoy so much (not).
Similarly, in your capacity as an adviser you are responsible for optimising your client-facing time, prospecting, and provision of strategic guidelines to your technical team. Booking your own appointments and sending confirmation emails should not be on your to–do list. Your client-servicing team is much better suited to dealing with these tasks. You wouldn’t expect a top lawyer to be dealing with their own diary management, so why should a different rule apply to you as a financial adviser?
Myth 2: My support team knows exactly what my vision for the business is despite me never having communicated it to anyone
Clarity of thought and communication are key to running a successful business. In any organisation it begins by asking ‘Why?’.
- Why are we doing this?
- Why am I sacrificing myself for this project?
- What is the higher purpose?
- What’s worth doing even if I fail?
Have you created inspiring answers to these questions? Have you formalised what you want your business to look like in five years’ time? Have you created a plan of action that will get you from A to B?
If you have put time and effort into doing all of this already it will pay off, but don’t forget to communicate with your team and to share your vision. Most of the people you work with haven’t got a crystal ball and can’t read your thoughts. Share your vision to motivate and inspire your team.
Myth 3: Processes are for the back office
If scalability, consistency and timely delivery of client servicing are important to you, then business processes have to form the foundation of all business activities. Clarity on ‘what?’, ‘who?’, ‘how?’ and ‘when?’ is vital.
When mapping out your business processes it is always a good idea to look at it through the lens of your client’s journey. This will help with creation of a client-centric business solution that encompasses both the front and back office procedures. Remember that lack of processes in the front office, or procedures not being followed, will have an adverse effect on your back office and vice versa; the two are interlinked.
If you feel that your support team is inefficient, turnaround times are long, and small errors keep occuring, then your business processes probably need to be improved.
Myth 4: I can easily deal with hundreds of clients
If you are running a transactional practice this might be the case. However if your business is based on long-term relationships and excellent ongoing client servicing, an optimal number of clients per adviser is approximately 100.
If as a single adviser you have 300 names on your books and you are wondering why your administration team is struggling with workload, the answer is too many clients. Even the most basic tasks typically take more than five minutes per client. If you start multiplying that by 300 the numbers just don’t add up for you or your team.
Myth 5: It is important to personalise all communication with clients; clients hate standardised correspondence
This one could be the root of all evil in a lot of businesses I’ve worked with.
Your clients would much rather receive error free information that is relevant to them and received in a timely manner, than wait for a follow up that arrives several weeks later in order for you to personally customise it and demonstrate that you remember the names of all their extended family members. Standardisation of at least some sections of letters and documents creates efficiency, decreases potential for error, and creates consistency of client experience.
Don’t waste loads of time here and drive your team to distraction. Work smart and spend time on things that truly matter, such as face-to-face time with clients and strategic thinking.
If one of your aims is to achieve business efficiency you really need to embrace processes and abandon the top five business efficiency myths discussed in this post. If you found reading about any of them particularly uncomfortable, prioritise the point that resonated with you the most and do something about it. That’s the one that’s likely to make the biggest difference to your business.
Brett adds: I really like these insights from Dominika and I’m pretty sure they’re a little bit confronting for many owner-advisers. However, if you can face up to these issues, listen to what your team are telling you (and might well have been telling you for a while now), then you can fix them and move forward.
Good luck with it and let me know how you go.
“Don’t waste loads of time on these top 5 efficiency myths and drive your team to distraction” Dominika Sieradzka
More about Dominika Sieradzka
Dominika Sieradzka is a UK-based business and operational consultant. She works with small to medium size IFA and Wealth Management firms on formalisation and optimisation of all business activities.
Dominika helps businesses gain clarity on five very simple questions; ‘what?’, ‘why?’, ‘who?’, ‘how?’, and ‘when?’. She joined the Financial Services industry over 13 years ago and has successfully helped many companies.
Apart from a degree in Business she also holds a PhD in Psychology and has published several papers on genetics of psychotic experiences. Her versatile interests help her maintain a fresh perspective and to draw on knowledge from seemingly unrelated areas, which is how some of her best ideas have come about.
Find Dominika on LinkedIn: Dominika Sieradzka