A great financial planning business has a great team working smoothly and effectively together behind the scenes. Tracey Underwood of PACE Solutions takes a practical look at why having a sound team approach is so crucial to business success.
“You cannot train alone and expect to run a fast time. There is a formula: 100% of me is nothing compared to 1% of the whole team. And that’s teamwork. That’s what I value.” Eliud Kipchoge
Back in October I, amongst many others, witnessed Eliud Kipchoge becoming the first athlete to run a marathon in under two hours. This was later followed by Brigid Kosgei breaking the women’s marathon world record set by Paula Radcliffe way back in 2003. What fantastic achievements these both are. I am sure that both will be remembered in years to come when others attempt to beat their records. However what most of us will probably forget is that behind each individual’s success is a huge support team. Each athlete will have their pacemakers, coach, manager, psychologist, nutritionist and physiotherapist and that’s to name but a few. It is this support which allows the athlete to deliver to the fullest of their abilities safe in the knowledge that every single aspect has been considered and organized to give them the best chance of success in reaching their goal.
But what’s this got to do with financial planning? The same attributes and principles apply in just the same way to a financial advice business. To achieve excellence you will need to embrace the team approach, perhaps using administrators, personal assistants, paraplanners, accountants etc. in whatever combination works best for your individual business needs. Each person in the team plays an important part in the overall success of the business and helping it to deliver on its aims and objectives.
However, it is surprising how many firms fail to recognise and act on this concept. Instead, many advisory business owners take the decision that it is better for them to undertake the work themselves rather than passing on to another member of the team. This may be because the members of your team do not possess the necessary skills or knowledge to carry out the tasks perhaps through lack of training. If this is the case, that needs to be addressed. However, it could simply be that these are not the right people in the right job in which case, perhaps, they should be let go. Of course, it could be the business owner’s own reluctance to delegate which is at the root of it. Whatever the particular situation, you need to identify the cause and act on it.
Making the magic happen
The most successful financial planning firms that I have worked with are those which run a great team. There is a clear correlation in place here. This is no accident. The team must be absolutely clear on:
- What their roles are within the business
- The future direction of the business
- The service proposition
The starting point is to be absolutely clear which individuals and what processes are required in your business. Having clear processes allows you to decide on your specific staffing requirements.
Once you have decided on these, the next step is to design clear job specifications and make sure that those individuals fulfilling the roles are properly equipped and trained to do the jobs which you need them to do.
I realise that this may all sound somewhat obvious to you. However, I have seen, on numerous occasions, teams of people employed in a business with no clear direction or strategy to follow. These individuals are then trained by an existing member of the team who themselves will have also been poorly trained. Bad habits are therefore passed throughout the business in a downward spiral – with negative consequences for business outcomes, profitability and success.
Here are some practical considerations you can use to help you:
- At interview stage – and as part of the induction process – make sure you clearly outline what the business objectives are and what role each individual plays in helping the firm to achieve its objectives.
- Ensure that the remuneration structure you have in place properly reflects the efforts of the team. This should be linked into their job role and the objectives set out during their ongoing appraisals.
- Regularly check in on the knowledge and experience of all members of your team. If any gaps should be uncovered, make sure that you invest the time and effort to ensure that these are addressed so that the individual is fully competent to carry out the work required of them.
- Don’t just rely on individuals sitting and passing professional exams. I have interviewed staff with a long and impressive list of financial services qualifications but many of whom could not apply their knowledge in practical situations. By putting in the time to integrate them properly, your investment will pay dividends for your business over the longer term.
Going for gold
So if you want to see the best results for your business and your clients, make sure you invest fully in the development of your team. In doing so, you will not only be able to deliver the ‘gold standard’ service for clients which you’ve probably always sought out to do – but you’ll also increase your chances of retaining good staff as well as boosting your own satisfaction, success and profitability into the bargain.
About Tracey Underwood
Tracey is the owner and founder of PACE Solutions. The business provides support for financial planning firms by focusing on operational practices including; recruitment, compliance, processes, client proposition and business strategy. This is achieved not only through a consultancy process but by hands on implementation to ensure that firms achieve effective results that would otherwise not be achieved through consultation only.