If Albert Einstein had a look at your business, would he conclude that you’re insane? Rod Bertino wonders

We are all well aware of Albert Einstein’s classic statement regarding the definition of insanity; but it has become increasingly clear to us that many advisers could well fall within its ambit. In a financial services landscape that has undoubtedly changed irrevocably, a frighteningly small number of advisers seem to have taken definite steps to change the way their practice does business. And when we delved a little deeper into the reasons why so many have not changed in any meaningful way, the most common response was: “I don’t really know what I should change.”

One of the unique benefits Business Health can bring, as a result of working in a number of different countries, is that we can observe how leading practices around the world are adapting to current market conditions. What are they doing differently from this time last year? We thought you might be interested in their “top tips”. While we are definitely not suggesting these are the only “right” answers or that they will work miracles for every practice, if you are doing the same things, the same way and expecting a different result…then you’re kidding yourself.


1. While people costs are normally a practice’s biggest expense, don’t be immediately tempted to reduce staff numbers – good people are always hard to find. A few options which might be more palatable for all:
• Would a four-day working week or nine-day fortnight work for you? Effectively this translates to a 20 per cent or 10 per cent reduction to your salary cost, but ensures all your good people are retained and your full client service offer remains intact.
• If you have a staff bonus or incentive program, could it be modified to provide non-cash rewards (such as additional days off, study leave or simple peer recognition) instead?

2. Look to renegotiate your current financial arrangements (bank loans, overdrafts et cetera). Are lower interest rates/ better terms now available with your current bank? What are their competitors offering? The same approach can be applied to:
• Office, car and equipment leases; and
• Outsourced service providers, such as IT and compliance support.

3. Hold more appointments in your office and consider using various new technologies (webinar, webex, video conferencing et cetera ) as a replacement for some face-to-face meetings. Not only will this save you time and money in travel, but it will also give you more time in the office for perhaps more productive activities.

4. Do you fully utilise your office space? Indeed, do you really need it all? Maybe a portion of it could be sublet to a colleague. On the other hand, maybe you could consider moving in with a like-minded business
associate. Any of these actions will allow you to aggregate and share overhead expenses.

5. Challenge your staff to come up with suggestions to reduce expenses – there’s a fair chance they’ll know
better than you where money can be saved without adversely affecting your service offer!

1. Our personal favourite – take every opportunity to ask for referrals. For example:
• Include it as a standing item on your client meeting agenda.
• Add a simple statement at the end of your e-mails or newsletters. Something along the lines that your business depends on receiving quality referrals from its clients.
• Even after everything that has happened lately, our CATScan client satisfaction survey results still show that 86 per cent of Australian clients are willing to refer their adviser to friends, family or associates.

2. Increase the frequency of client contact – especially to your “A” class clients. Proactive, “how’s things?” calls (without any strings attached) will be greatly appreciated by your clients.

3. Offer to review the financial plans of your key referral sources or the adult children of your “A” clients (if they are not already your clients) at no cost. If they like your work and/or they are dissatisfied with their current adviser, they might be prepared to transfer to you.

4. Look to increase your client facing time. According to our HealthCheck data warehouse, Australian advisers are seeing on average less than one client per day! Call us simplistic, but if increasing your revenue is a key priority, you’ll need to be in front of clients. Review meetings, client appreciation events and seminars will all help you to do this. To free yourself up so that you have time, consider delegating some of those important (but perhaps not revenue-generating) tasks to other people.

5. Consider expanding your solution set to include services which may not be within your current offer but perhaps could be – services such as life insurance, mortgages, estate planning and general insurance. And if you’re not suitably qualified in these areas, look to set up a referral arrangement with someone who is experienced.

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