Organic growth is a challenge!  There is no doubt that, for a variety of reasons, brand new customers are hard to come by.  We hear this from all our clients.  Not that the industry is dead.  It’s just that new business is challenging and there are “no free kicks out there”.  Interestingly, in a recent poll of superannuation fund members, 70% of people aged between 35 and 55 do not think they would have benefitted from professional financial advice.  So if you are finding the going tough, you are not alone.  Existing clients tend to be generally happy, but attracting new clients is not without its challenges.

In this blog we share some insights on organic growth.  The insights are sourced from a recent survey conducted by the Advice Leaders Forum, an industry-wide organisation that T&C helped initiate, alongside a team of committed individuals from like-minded businesses.  The full survey results are available to you by joining the Advice Leaders Forum (see the link, Advice Leaders Forum, at the end of this blog).  The survey was largely centred on the professional financial planning end of the value chain but many of the findings are of interest to all participants in the value chain.  A special webinar featuring the survey results is also available by clicking on the Webinar link at the end of this blog.

We highlight a few of the survey results that pave the way for thinking about growth initiatives.  Everyone is searching for organic growth and no-one wants to be the person who announces a party at their house, only to find that no-one shows up!

Here are some sample insights on organic growth initiatives from the survey (in the context of throwing a party for both new and existing clients!):

Planning Your Party – Organic growth plans

• 60% of the respondents said that they had a strong, documented strategic plan for growth

• However, a large proportion of the audience felt that the “talent pool” within their organisation threatened the effective implementation of the strategic plan (for example, around half of the respondents recognised a need to deliver sales capability training to staff)

• This highlights the need for wealth management businesses to step up to their performance management issues and address role clarity, accountabilities, training and skill levels, as well as alignment of KPIs and remuneration structures.  It’s a clarion call for more effective management in this area in order to build sustainable, growing businesses

The Party Theme – The Client Value Proposition (CVP)

• 52% of respondents felt they had a strong CVP

• However, 78% expressed the need, as part of their marketing priorities, to further develop and articulate a strong CVP

• On a positive note, this recognises the fact that CVPs are dynamic and need to be constantly updated and kept relevant.  On the other hand it reflects the fact that many businesses will need to address their CVP to meet the needs of “new” clients who have not yet embraced the professional advice model and query the relevance to them of the current suite of professional advice offers

• Rounding out the advice offer was seen as a priority – for example 58% are looking to add SMSF capability, 53% specialist risk and 43% specialist estate planning capability

• But we query if advisers are too focussed on the traditional suite of offers to clients and, on that note, it was alarming that accounting capability and the integration of accounting and financial planning (particularly in the growing area of SMSFs) didn’t receive the prominence T&C expected

Sending Out The Invites – Social media

• Social media loomed large on respondents agendas, with 90% keen to establish a personal brand and around 75% looking to connect to social media to achieve this goal

• However, effective implementation of a cohesive digital marketing plan was seen as a challenge.  Experienced help in this emerging area may be the order of the day

The Invite List – Client referrals

• There is a clear case for “back-to-basics”.  This was especially evident in the area of client referrals.  While analysing ways to attract “new” friends, it’s important not to ignore old friends who provide on-going business and who, if asked, may bring some of their friends along to the party!

Party Activities on the Night – Processes and operations

• There was a recognition of a need to improve business processes and to have good quality data in order to grow (interestingly, respondents said that the most important focus outside of marketing was documenting processes and investigating the outsourcing of low value activities)

• However, the challenge will be to fund the investment (in time and money) to deliver this properly.  Again, expert input may be a worthwhile consideration

Overall the Advice Leaders Forum Survey paints a picture of advisers moving on from FoFA and looking to grow their businesses.  Changes need to be made, however, in order to resonate with new clients, potentially around a dynamic and refined CVP.  More thought and attention needs to be given to this area.

It’s all very well and good to send out the party invites to a new set of friends, but T&C asks the question whether advisers need to look at what’s being dished up in terms of beverages and finger food before counting on these people to show up.  The fund member poll mentioned earlier in this blog, and the tsunami of negative media coverage, all evidence a need to critically assess the advice offer to clients, particularly to the “advice-uninitiated”.  The same rings true for all parts of the value chain.  No-one wants to throw a party where no-one turns up.

For more information on the Advice Leaders Forum and the survey results, click on the links below.

Advice Leaders Forum link:  http://www.adviceleadersforum.com/

Webinar link:  http://www.adviceleadersforum.com/blog/business-insights-survey-findings-revealed-webinar-recording