John Ritchie sifts strategic insight from the conference circuit
As we approach the half way point of the year, I'm sure many of you will be trying to find the time to pause and reflect on what's passed and plan for the months ahead.
The demands of the day job can make it hard to keep even one eye on the bigger picture, but it is dangerous not to take a little time for some strategic thought.
Attending the odd industry event gives the chance to do just that, with the added bonus that you can borrow the best ideas from other people's strategic thinking.
To be honest, it's almost inevitable there will be times when you wonder if your time wouldn't be better spent back in the office. But conferences, I find, help me gather my thoughts and can provoke subtle but significant shifts in my strategic outlook, even if I'm not completely aware of it at the time.
At a recent conference, where the subject was advisory businesses post-RDR, a review of my scribbles from the day included these three notes.
• Seek and strive endlessly for operational efficiency in your trading model
• Look for recurring income streams ~ that is how you build value in your business
• Seek to provide an ongoing consulting service to all your clients and drop the ones who think you are a charity
These points of wisdom, gleaned from the day's presentations, can be distilled into the following short checklist for advisory firms.
1. Can I delegate in-force admin to the client or the provider or a combination of the two?
2. Does the client / project / task support both consulting fees and a modest retainer in the form of a renewal commission?
3. Does what I am doing now enable me to get the consulting meter running?
Encouragingly, the weight of research shows that the majority of existing clients recognise and understand when they are getting an advice service and are quite comfortable with a combination of consulting fees and modest recurring commissions, provided they feel they are getting value. The key is to focus on the activities that deliver value and avoid those that might feel like part of the job but actually offer no real value to the client and therefore add no value to your business.
John Ritchie is chief executive of Ellipse