Terry Bell: Business Health

Business planning and execution of business strategy has taken a backseat for many advisers distracted by findings and recommendations coming out of the Hayne royal commission, according to business consultancy Business Health.

Preliminary findings from the consultancy’s latest analysis suggests a lot of advisers may have been side-tracked or, more likely for many, overwhelmed by the events of the last 12 months, Terry Bell, a partner with Business Health, noted.

Based on an analysis of its recent ‘HealthCheck’ results – the full findings to be compiled in coming weeks – Bell said there had been a decline in the number of practices carrying out essential business planning activities.

Among these activities, Bell noted he’d seen a decline in practices operating with business and strategic plans, businesses with an articulated value proposition, practices using an external business coach and practices contacting their ‘A’ class clients with frequency of more than two years.

Licensees, product and platform providers could step up to help practices balance bring back some balance to their businesses, Bell reckons.

“It’s not only the adviser’s focus that has shifted away from business management. We have observed that the focus of many business or practice development managers [within product providers, platforms and licensees] have been re-directed towards compliance oversight, leaving practice management somewhat neglected,” Bell noted in a recent communication to Business Health clients.

Frequent, specific communication to advisers and practice managers reinforcing the need for a balanced focus is key, he said.

Bell added that “words without actions are just words” and he said these messages need to be backed up with proof of commitment.

“Consider the content/agenda of your next conference, workshop or PD day for example. Has the right balance been struck?,” he said.

Further, Bell noted that key performance indicators for practice and business development managers should ideally be aligned to both their employer as well as their adviser’s business goals.

“How about KPIs around adviser satisfaction? Practice profitability or establishing documented business plans for example?,” he said.

Smith is the editor of Professional Planner’s print and digital platforms. He is an experienced financial journalist, editor and multimedia producer who has held senior editorial positions both in mainstream press and trade media.
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