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How are you planning your financial advice business for greater success in 2021? 2020 has been a tough year for us all so Michelle Hoskin, Standards International, brings her sound, practical take on a few of the key ingredients to consider as part of your strategic planning process.

I think it’s safe to say that at some point over the last ten months or so, as we try to adapt our lives to the Covid-19 pandemic, one or more of us have, at times, felt like we have literally been hit by a bus. Despite my positive disposition, there have been many times when I have been well and truly in that camp – much to my personal disappointment.

But – despite how I am and still feel personally – I still have to show up every day as the leader of my business and on a wider scale as a ‘beacon’ for our profession.

I’m with you when I say this, but I know that when we set up a business, we get excited by the good stuff. Excited about the freedom of time, the freedom to make our own decisions, to do things our way and once and for all set our own standards and meet them!

We don’t ever expect to have to lead and run a business through a pandemic and we certainly don’t ever expect to have to repair and relaunch one afterwards.

But this is the stark reality which we face right now – and it’s something that every business leader should be thinking about.

With 2020 being an absolute write-off for so many reasons, I think we all have big expectations for 2021.

For the masses, 2020 was about stabilising, steadying the ship and keeping things going. However, for some of the most deserving in the profession, many have seen huge growth from leveraging an already amazing business, team and client family.

2021 however is going to be a whole different ball game.

So what’s the plan? What are all of our businesses going to need in 2021? Here are some of the key ingredients in a recipe which I believe is needed for business success next year and beyond.

1. A love for it

You love it, you hire a team who love it and you take on clients who love it. But what is IT? IT is your business, IT is their jobs, IT is what they do, IT is how they do it, IT is who they do it for and IT is financial services as a whole. Working in this profession is like a calling: you can’t do half measures. You have to be all in. In fact, you have to be so far in that you couldn’t imagine doing anything else. The result is that when you all LOVE IT, the business will ooze success and we know that an all-round successful business is a happy business. And that is a great place to be.

2. A rule of no compromise!… ever!

If something is not right, try to fix it. If something is not fixable, remove it. It may seem harsh and will, for sure, be painful and at times a lengthy process, but I promise you it will be worth it. It is amazing how things have a habit of all coming good in the end. If you make too many allowances and overcompensate for people and things that are not working, it brings a detrimental level of unhappiness to the team and all those who come into contact with it.

3. Total and pure honesty

People often say that I have a rose-tinted view of our sector (like that’s a bad thing?!). Well, that may be the case, but I have no intention of changing my view any time soon. Why? Because, while I may see our profession in a unique way( I am honest – I say what I see) I hold no punches and I tell it like it is. If I see something wrong, I will speak out; if I think something could be done better, I make the suggestion; if I think standards are slipping, I’ll raise them; and if I don’t like how people are being treated, I will stand my ground. This – I believe – is a level of honesty that we could do with much more of in our profession. As a business leader, I am 100% open and honest with my team. We have no secrets; we know our troubles and we celebrate our successes. We ALL know the numbers – the incoming and the outgoing – and that’s not all. You may want to sit down for this bit… we have internally published our personal salaries and earnings. STOP PRESS!! And why wouldn’t we? If one of our company values is honesty then how can we ever fully commit to that if we have secrets – regardless of what those secrets are? When you have no secrets, people feel a sense of belonging and inclusion. This is a feeling we all crave, and which ultimately leads to creating a great place to work.

4. The strategy of seeking to understand before you seek to be understood.

Understand your people. By this, I don’t mean how many sugars they take in their tea, I mean really understand them. Understand what makes them tick, why they work, what makes them jump out of bed in the morning, what they dream of, who they love and why, and not forgetting what makes them sad and what makes them happy. As professional advisers and planners, you seem to be more than happy to spend the time to understand your clients at this level but feel that it is ‘inappropriate’ to understand your teams in the same way. When people feel understood, they feel valued, they feel cared for and guess what… they feel a part of something that matters – because they know they matter.

A successful 2021 isn’t going to just happen. We are all a little bit bruised and battered after our experiences this year and we all need a little bit of something special for next year.

So I’ll leave you with a closing note: a happy team makes happy clients who make a happy and successful business. It doesn’t work the other way around. I wish you all a happy – and successful – New Year!

About Michelle Hoskin

Michelle Hoskin (aka Little Miss WOWW!TM) is well known for her endless enthusiasm and energy, infectious personality and unique outlook on what she describes as a “magical profession”. With over 20 years’ experience working alongside some of the world’s most successful financial services organisations, Michelle is an internationally recognised author, speaker, coach and leading expert in the design and implementation of international framework-based best practice standards. Michelle is pioneering a drive towards increased professionalism and operational excellence through her continued work at Standards International – the UK’s premier certification body for British and international financial services standards – of which she is the founder. She also most recently led a sector committee whose objective was to develop and launch an exciting new international standard for professional paraplanners. Relentless in her pursuit of a global movement of change within financial services, Michelle is fully committed to supporting financial professionals worldwide to achieve things they only dreamed were possible, and to working with them so that they become the best possible version of themselves.

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