All the regulatory change has many advisers seriously thinking about how to position for the future, and how to lift performance in a time of squeezed practice margins. Many are stuck in their existing paradigm of doing business though, and struggle to accept things like remuneration models changing rapidly, long term shifts in consumer buying behaviour, and so forth. As a result the thinking tends to be limited to trying to figure out ways to get incremental improvements. A lot of effort is spent trying to figure out how to save a few percent in costs, or lift sales by a modest amount, and so on. This type of approach isn’t planning for a performance lift…it is only planning for ways to adjustm the margins of the business.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to keep things moving along as they have been and trying to improve the business margin. Same efforts…same inputs….the certainty of a systematic approach that produces consistent results…but with slightly improved profitability. That’s a good thing, and is certainly a “steady as she goes” approach to running the practice.
But is it fulfilling professionally?
Does it guarantee business sustainability?
Does it really lift your game and lead to breakthrough business results?
To really lift performance – and I am talking quantum leap here, not a good incremental increase – you need to pin down your purpose. It is that place where what you love doing intersects with what your are fabulous at, and which the market needs and will happily pay for.
HAPPILY pay for.
The market will happily pay for it because what you do creates immensely valuable differences in their world….you are fixing problems that baffle them perhaps. Or you are creating emotional security and peace of mind. Maybe you are delivering innovative thinking that excites them and encourages them and challenges your clients to live a very different life to what they thought possible.
People will pay handsomely for the emotional outcomes….the feelings that can be achieved from the results of great professional planning and advice. That is what they value. They don’t tend to significantly value products, or managed funds, or a new tax break. Obviously those things have a value, but it is transitory. It is forgotten about in no time.
Real value in clients minds lies in the life changes that a professional created for them. The products and tactics used were simply tools, or steps along the way. They don’t matter in the end.
For many practitioners focussing on the tools and the tactics is easy, and there are nearly always new efficiencies and business opportunities in these areas that can lead to healthier margins for the practice year-on-year. They don’t lead to quantum leaps in business performance, or in satisfaction levels for the aspirational professional.
Finding your purpose and focussing on that does lead to quantum leaps in performance and satisfaction levels.
It took me a long time to learn that, and arguably I only figured it out about 10 years ago. But geez the last 10 years have been different to all others in my career beforehand. I work pretty much every day of the year (for at least a few hours!) these days…because I want to. I enjoy what I do and who I work with. I don’t always charge people…I give away a lot of time and information for free. But when I charge for work then people pay….and mostly ask me to come back and do more work and then they pay me again. And I don’t have contracts that people sign….I pretty much work on a handshake or a head nod and tell people “if you aren’t happy, don’t pay“.
But people do pay.
2 simple reasons that are purpose-driven:
Because they need it, and I’m great at it.
Because what we really achieve together is a different life for them.
How is that so different to what any professional adviser aims to do with, and for, clients?
It seems to me that is exactly what professional advisers aim to achieve for all clients: to get them a different life. The life they crave, but don’t know how to achieve by themselves.
All of the angst in industry about whether consumers will pay fees or not arises because advisers are often trying to sell the wrong thing. Consumers won’t pay fees for products generally. They will pay fees for a better life. More certainty. Peace of Mind. That sort of stuff…
All of the angst in the industry about whether we are a profession or not arises because we too many people are selling the wrong stuff. Professions don’t sell products. Professions provide solutions that change lives.
Figuring out how to solve all of the angst in the industry does not, and will not, lead to greater business performance for most practices. Real value lies in figuring out your purpose and valuing it accordingly, and then telling your story to the market.
That’s a game changer because it leads to a quantum leap forward….and may well solve that whole “consumer paying appropriate and profitable fees” issue.