When it comes to the term “advisory business operations,” there are probably a thousand ideas racing through financial advisors’ minds. Does this include the front office and client-facing activities? Does it cover the back office, trading and portfolio management tasks? What about the finance or human resources functions in your office?
In short, advisory business operations comprise all actions taken to keep your company functioning and earning revenue. Business operations for an advisory firm can cover labor, equipment and company infrastructure needed for leaders and teams to effectively carry out firms’ daily tasks.
Elevating your business operations and remaining client-centric can help solidify your place in the market. New financial advisory firms are appearing in an already crowded marketplace every day. The importance of effective business operations can help you maximize efficiency, streamline communications and serve clients well. Without effective operations, inefficient workflows and poor communication will become a part of your business practices, something correlated with higher occurrences of business failure. Your clients and teams will not sing your praises, either! Now that you’re familiar with what operations covers, here are eight easy ways to level up how you run your business:
- Organize your day.
- Revisit your business plan.
- Clearly define business goals and objectives.
- Reach out to existing clients.
- Reevaluate your pricing/service model.
- List the areas you want to improve.
- Improve your marketing efforts.
- Measure performance.
Organize Your Day
This is a big one. Financial advisors have competing priorities every day. Working with clients and delivering services tend to take priority over working on your business. Take time to keep tabs on what you’re doing day in, day out. Organize working blocks of time so you can get strategic work done. Capture time-sensitive and high-priority items in the morning – checking emails, trades or money movement requests – with lower-priority items such as networking, marketing and office administration later on. Prepare a list of recurring tasks and projects that need your attention; set goals; and above all, honor your calendar blocks!
Revisit Your Business Plan
You probably put a lot of time into this document, so don’t file it away, never to be seen again. Your business plan is a living representation of your business goals, reasons they’re attainable and best-fit strategies for reaching them. Checking in to see how you’re doing is a great strategic move. Take a look at your SWOT analysis, or strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, and revise it as market conditions change to keep you on track. This document can help you plan for and prepare the next moves in your business.
Clearly Define Business Goals and Objectives
Business goals, when realistically set, will help you measure your success, align your expectations and chart what path you should take to grow. Defining your direction of what you’re aiming for will help you improve your advisory firm’s operations. For example, without a clear growth strategy, your business development and/or marketing can be a lot of work for little reward. Throwing spaghetti at the wall hoping something sticks may create more of a mess than a marketing masterpiece.
Reach Out to Existing Clients
Your existing clients are a treasure trove of insights and new business opportunities. Engage them throughout the year through social media, newsletters and client events – in person or virtual – to help you stay top of mind. Build your marketing system as an extension of your service operations. Figure out what aspects you can automate to both personalize and expedite proactive engagement with your clients. Taking their needs into consideration, you can quickly elevate your brand and service model that speaks “high touch, high value.”
Reevaluate Your Pricing/Service Model
Many advisory firms fall into similar pricing models: assets under management, hourly, fee for service, subscription or hybrid. Think about how your services can be improved to meet the needs of your ideal clients. For example, if you plan to serve millennial business owners who may not have accumulated significant assets, a monthly subscription model may be one direction to consider. Analyze your service and pricing based on your business financial goals, but also in relationship to the clients you intend to serve. Know that people want the best, so structure your service model to meet the need, deliver value at each point and charge appropriately for the value you’re providing.
List the Areas You Want to Improve
No one firm has it all together. Most businesses are in a constant state of improvement, some more than others. As you evaluate your operations, list the areas you want to improve and the benefits you’ll see because of the improvements. Reach out to your team and host brainstorming sessions to come up with solutions to problems that are compromising your work. Minor glitches or areas that aren’t as streamlined can cause more harm than you think. As a business owner, you should be aware of weak spots in your operations that can affect your bottom line. For example, if your client onboarding workflows are less than stellar, commit to making changes by using the transformation you’ll get as motivation. Workflows that detail how you offer services will eliminate on-the-spot judgments, prevent a bottleneck on client actions and reduce errors. Now isn’t that something to get excited about?
Improve Your Marketing Efforts
Staying top of mind for your ideal clients takes both patience and being intentional. At its core, marketing is developing your brand, getting out into the marketplace and creating demand for your services. Many business owners can improve their marketing efforts in some low-cost ways including building high-quality content on a niche-specific blog, hosting financial webinars and refreshing their website that speaks to their ideal client.
By using customer surveys and reviews, financial statements, or employee feedback reviews, measuring performance through key performance indicators, or KPIs, is an important step to learning how you can improve your business operations. Financial statements can clarify where you’re overspending. Reviews and customer surveys can highlight the needs of your clients and frustrations of your employees.
Each day presents a new opportunity to do things differently and move your business forward. It can be tough to know where to start. Many successful business owners take time to reflect and monitor what’s going on in their companies. Elevating your operations isn’t a one-and-done event. You should put plans together to address the gaps with a firm course of action. This way, you can work toward the business success you’re seeking, and it will help you work toward a stronger future for your firm. Your goal here is to make your operations streamlined, efficient and client-centric, allowing you to hit your financial goals. At this crossroads is where you can discover a win-win.